The Rat welcomes: Pearl and the Beard

Pearl and the Beard demonstrated the emotional range of their repertoire with songs ranging from cheery to meloncholy. (Photo courtesy of Kate Stronczer)

Charming the audience with quirky tunes and the help of a kazoo, the Brooklyn-based trio, Pearl and the Beard, performed for a packed audience last Friday Oct. 8 at the Rathskeller.

Jocelyn Mackenzie, Emily Hope Price and Jeremy Styles took the stage with such energy that even seemingly apathetic listeners clapped along.

With an arsenal of instruments at their disposal, including a guitar, a cello, a snare drum, a glockenspiel and a kazoo, the group’s set was diverse and exciting. Its songs ranged from whimsical and cheery to low and haunting. Some of the best moments of the set occurred when Price and her cello took center stage. These tunes took on an almost somber feel and were a nice change of pace from the group’s perkier material.

Among the songs performed by Pearl and the Beard were crowd favorites “Oh, Death!” and “Voice in My Throat.” Both showcased strong vocals and a knack for lovely harmonies. The band also played some songs off of its newly released EP, “Black Vessel,” which it will be promoting on a tour beginning in November, along with the band Holy Ghost Tent Revival.

Their tour mates, described as being “very attractive” by Mackenzie, inspired the performance of a song about lust.

The highlight of this hormonally-charged song was Mackenzie’s kazoo playing because, after all, what’s sexier than a kazoo?

Other standouts included “Black Hole of Calcutta” and “I Heart New York,” which Styles described as “the shit that I took in the toilet of Pearl and the Beard.” Matt Singer, who opened for the band, accompanied him on this song, playing the tambourine and whistling.

The band closed with a performance of a Will Smith medley, which included covers of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Men in Black.”

The most endearing qualities of Pearl and the Beard were the humor and sincere quirkiness of the members. It seemed as though Mackenzie, Price and Styles were just as fun and eccentric as they were onstage. They took the time to compliment a girl in the audience on her cat sweater and joked that the Rat reminded them of “Saved by the Bell.”

“I don’t know why any of you aren’t sitting backwards in your chairs,” Styles said with a laugh. Pearl and the Beard is currently working on a new CD, which the members hope will be released in either February or March of 2011.

Opening for Pearl and the Beard was Matt Singer, another Brooklyn-based artist who grew up in Montclair.

Accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar, Singer provided a mellow foil to the headliner’s energy.

His humorous songs included one about an American Idol contestant and another that he insisted was inspired by “Fraggle Rock.”

Singer stopped midway through his set to tell the audience that he recently got engaged, and read aloud a good luck text from his fiancée. He is currently working on a new, unnamed record.