It was hard to tell which element was thicker in the air Wednesday night at The Basement East in Nashville, Tennessee: red-hot buzz or sticky sweat. Temperatures easily topped 100 degrees in the shoulder-to-shoulder-packed Music City club, where Bermuda Triangle – a new, likely one-off supergroup featuring Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard and local singer-songwriters Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser – made its live debut.
“So we made some merch today,” said Howard early in the gig, a promotion for She Shreds magazine, the world’s only publication focused on female guitarists and bassists. “So if you wanted to buy some that would be really good, because this is probably going to be the last show.”
Given the Hawaiian-shirt-sporting trio’s chemistry, which was clear from the first, applause-silencing note, it would be a shame if Bermuda Triangle ends up a one-and-done band, especially since they didn’t sell out of those T-shirts they made. Later on, as the bar closed down, Howard, remaining swag in hand, made a final sales push to sell a few more shirts to a few dozen lingering smokers on the club’s patio deck.
Considering the trio has no (and very well may never have) any recorded music released, and had heretofore never played live, collective curiosity over what they’d sound like reigned over the room. What the hyper-focused crowd got at this gig may have thrown Howard fans expecting something along the lines of Alabama Shakes’ frenetic, R&B-infused Southern rock or the take-no-prisoners garage-rock grit of Howard’s other extracurricular Nashville power trio Thunderbitch, but nobody in the sweat-drenched crowd walked away from the short-but-spirited performance disappointed.
The band featured Howard switching between plucking out gorgeous, nimble-fingered nylon-string guitar solos and holding down the low end on upright bass (an instrument she said she’d never played in public before), with Mancari and Lafser trading off on banjo and acoustic guitar, accompanied by subtle beats from a drum machine on a pitch-perfect harmony-heavy set of blithe and breezy heartfelt folk tunes that filled the sweltering room with chill vibes. Watch performances from the show above and below.