Concert Review: BRAVESTATION [Album Release] (2012-07-07 @ The Drake Underground)
Opening their set amid an overdub track with spoken word voiceover, Toronto’s BRAVESTATION took the stage to a stripped-down visual production adorned in plant arrangements and bright blue neon lights that arched toward the ceiling and skirted the edges of the subtly backlit room: the tribe was about to take form.
As a complete band, the four-piece are really at the top of their game since shifting from their straight-laced indie rock formation to their contemporary self-identified “tribal pop” outfit: they’re sonically on point at all times, and while their stage show isn’t energetic in a spastic or frantic sense, the constant swaying of the band members on stage easily translated to the crowd members throughout the set.
BRAVESTATION have a certain penchant for percussive songwriting – in particular here on their full-length debut Giants & Dreamers, highlighting an eclectic series of rimshots, cowbells and effects beyond the standard five-piece drum kit – so the dim house lights on the night in question were easily conducive to the bass-heavy melodies and vocal lines of frontman Devin Wilson and the frequently changing shuffle rhythms of drummer Jeremy Rossetti.
But something not readily apparent in the band’s recorded material is the way synth/effects man Andrew Heppner and guitarist Derek Wilson truly fill out the tones of each track: the songwriting for the bass and drums alone could likely carry the songs as a two-piece, but the additional layers really help to flesh things out that much more and bring that ‘tribal vibe’ into prominence through the ambience and mid-tone-heavy clean guitar riffing.
This night wasn’t the most crowded I’ve ever seen The Drake Underground, but it was easily among the most lively of turnouts in recent memory. A group of guys in particular (some possibly underage based on an earlier standoffish encounter I witnessed them have with a bartender) as they inquired before the set if I was ready to help them “throw down”. From the looks in their eyes I’m fairly certain their ambition was to turn the 150-odd people in attendance into a giant circle pit, though the resulting swaying bodies of the crowd was a fair achievement in and of itself
Second track Clocks And Spears easily evoked a series of jubilant cries from the crowd – a number of whom were clearly long-term fans of the band and it was only fitting that they be in attendance to celebrate with their beloved foursome.
Single Signs Of The Civilized is an easy standout track both recorded and live – regardless of where it’s being played – and end-of-night clincher Tides Of The Summit, though not a track I was in love with before seeing it live, is a much more nuanced piece I’ve realized now that I’ve seen it performed.
After a series of encores from the crowd, the band returned to the stage to perform last year’s single White Wolves which preceded the release of Giants & Dreamers, with frontman Devin Wilson asking the crowd if all his wolves of different colors – white, black, and beige – were in attendance.
BRAVESTATION has always been a band with a very strong presence both visually and musically – similarly before and after their shift in musical genre. The night in question was no different as the four members of the band collected on stage with a performance worth writing home about; in turn having the room coalesce into a tribe of fans – old and new – that they should be proud to call their own.
Photos by LIZ GARERI