On an unseasonably warm Friday night in December, my faithful cowboy boots were scurrying towards the good ole Sneaky Dee’s for Audio Blood’s 4th anniversary party. At the door, before I could bring my name across my lips, so that I can get in as a reviewer, was none other than Stephen Neville from “The Balconies”! I almost turned to Bieber-fan-behaviour, but managed to contain myself and headed towards the stage to catch the last few tunes of Acres of Lions. Standing next to a monstrous speaker I wondered why I had ignored the “Earplugs $2″ sign and instead opted for coat-check. Oh, yes, the guy at coat-check was really cute. While I was waiting for my ears to adjust to the loud music, I surveyed the crowd: there were few people on the dance-floor, but the band’s soft-yet-catchy indie-rock songs set the mood for an intimate party. People were dancing in their seats as they were greeting each other or chatting. The comforting chord strumming paired with melancholic lyrics provided the perfect start to a Friday night celebration.
Next up were Secret Connection, from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (not to be confused with St. John, New Brunswick! Get your geography straight, people!). Although only two members of the band were present, Rajiv Thavanathan (ex-Oh No Forest Fires!) and S.P. Calahhan, with Brad Kilpatrick on drums, they surely pumped up the crowd! Rajiv had by far the most charismatic stage presence as he interacted with the crowd, raising his beer: “Who has to work tomorrow? Well, I don’t. So let’s get drunk!” The increased tempo gathered more people on the dance-floor as everybody seemed to be getting their socks rocked off, in spite of Rajiv’s out of tune guitar. Secret Connection was definitely the best-suited band to play after Acres of Lions, in order to seamlessly move the party along.
Amos the Transparent undoubtedly drew out their fans that night. The dance-floor was packed with people singing along. An 8-piece band from Ottawa, they flooded the stage with such varied instruments as cello and violins. Their sound combined folk with indie-pop, resulting in a solid musical performance. The stage presence seemed polarized, with the cellist, violinist and drummer hyped up, decreasing to the right of the stage, ending with a girl almost hiding behind the speakers as she was playing the keys. After the show, I was told by band members that the lead singer, Jonathan Chandler, was sick and thus not at his best. Later I found out they even had to cancel their Saturday night gig, which was a first for Jonathan, in his 11-year career as a singer. Although probably not their best performance, Amos the Transparent still managed to engage the audience. It seemed like every band was increasingly closer to the crowd, making it feel as though it was one big party, where the performers were actually dancing with the people on the floor. The stage didn’t seem so high up anymore, as the line between stage and fans seemed to become more blurred.
By the time Hands & Teeth came on close to 1 am, the second floor at Sneaky Dee’s was completely packed. Fans and friends were taking pictures with bands and vice versa in an ad-hoc professional photo booth. Those not lucky enough to get in front of the big camera, became paparazzi with their smartphones, all to the perfect soundtrack provided by this musically complex band.
On my way out I was delighted to receive a goodie-bag that contained 3 albums, numerous free download cards, buttons, and an Amos The Transparent gingerbread cookie, which I devoured a bit too cruelly. Leaving Audio Blood’s 4th Anniversary party that night, I felt like I was leaving the Indie-Oscars.