Concert Review: SAID THE WHALE, CHAINS OF LOVE, BOXER THE HORSE (2012-04-13 @ The Great Hall)
As the sun set on Friday April 13th, the night could only get happier and more eccentric. Adorable Vancouver indie band SAID THE WHALE were set to hit the stage at The Great Hall with PEI’s BOXER THE HORSE and fellow Vancouverites CHAINS OF LOVE; it would be a great night full of song and dance, that would leave one with a ringing in their ears and a smile on their face for days.
The first performance of the night was from Prince Edward Island’s BOXER THE HORSE, starting off the show with their lightness and energy. The song that stood out to me the most was Mary Meets The Pilot – hearing this song live makes you feel like a kid again – maybe in part because you’ll be dancing like there’s no tomorrow and smiling from ear to ear. When frontman Jeremy Gaudet spoke to the audience in between songs, the gentle smirk across his face may have been caused by the blinding lights, his extreme happiness and gratuity, or perhaps both. Though it was most likely the latter as the band came off as an approachable bunch of musicians that were truly grateful to be standing on that 122-year-old stage.
After a breathtaking opening act, CHAINS OF LOVE took to the stage with a fun, energetic, but repetitive set: the first few tunes they played included delightful 60s-inspired riffs, but once they played that a few times, it seemed as though the audience got bored and, by the looks of it, so did some of the band members. Ultimately though this didn’t seem to trouble lead vocalist and tambourine player Nathalia Pizarro, as throughout CHAINS OF LOVE’s entire time on stage she didn’t stop smiling – radiating her happiness into the audience, if only to prepare them for the headline act that was soon to follow.
Vancouver five-piece SAID THE WHALE have had a lot of attention thrust upon them over the past few years: a Juno win for Best New Artist back in 2011 kick-started their career on the world circuit, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down. Last year, the band attended SXSW with a CBC camera crew in tow to film a recently-released documentary called Winning America. This heart-warming story of the band aiming for a big break in America didn’t include TOO much mustard squirting or deserted venue shows, but it delivered an in-depth look at the trials and tribulations musicians face and how they cope with them.
On this night, SAID THE WHALE hit the stage for what is surely their longest set time yet, clocking in at around 75 minutes of indie-rock. With so much time to perform, the fans were happy to hear old favorites Camilo and BC Orienteering, and a few newly beloved tracks like We Are 1980, Loveless, The Reason, and Lines. Loveless was spectacularly executed, especially with bassist Nathan Shaw’s intricate riffs. Likewise, The Reason delivered a nostalgic 60s-inspired sound thanks to Jaycelyn Brown’s keyboard skills.
This Toronto show was right in the middle of the band’s first headlining tour, spanning from New Brunswick back home to British Columbia. They’ve improved a heck of a lot since I saw them last, opening for TOKYO POLICE CLUB back in December 2011. The whole audience radiated happiness and love towards those on stage, eagerly received by singers Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester with smiles that never went away. During the encore, drummer Spencer Schoening – who does not usually take the spotlight – sang Seasons, the closing song from their new album Little Mountain. The audience loved it, and begged for more as they finished off the show with the parting words “we’ve got so much love” from crowd favourite Goodnight Moon.
Overall, this concert blew me away, and I (surely along with all the other attendees of the sold out show) cannot wait for the next time SAID THE WHALE hits Toronto.