When B.C. bands come to Toronto, sometimes the audience reception is quite weak. Vancouver’s Said the Whale is a huge exception to this.
After winning the 2011 Juno award for “New Group of the Year”, the Toronto audience gave the Said the Whale members a homestyle-like welcome and kept the band jamming all night long.
Before the headliners, U.K. singer Sara Lowes took to the stage, armed with her keyboard and a big voice. It’s pretty hard to measure up to fellow English singer Adele (the current toast of women’s power music), but Lowes put on a strong set for her first Canadian show.
Regina-based band, Rah Rah, set up a plethora of instruments and a white robotic cat (no joke) for their set, and were the best opening group I’ve ever seen. All six members traded instruments between songs, running around from guitar to accordion, tambourine to bass while chanting vocals and drumming on the amps.
The women in the group, Vanessa Benson, Kristina Hedlund and Erin Passmore were all the performers of the night – each rocked out on her own, with long hair flying and dancing around the stage.
Ending with back and forth singing, throwing giant balloons into the audience, and shooting a confetti canon, Rah Rah proved that they are new force to be reckoned with.
Songs “Tentacles” and “Arrows” are my downloads of the week.
Said the Whale lead vocalists Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft led one of the longest sets I’ve seen from a headlining band…whispering to the band and continuing to play more and more new songs.
“This is just unreal,” said Worcester, shading his eyes from the lights and looking out at the crowd.
The band played a mix of their older pieces, opening with audience favourite, “This City’s a Mess” and “Black Day in December”. After each song, the cheering of the fans was nearly deafening in the club.
Said the Whale played a string to newer pieces from their upcoming album, much to the crowd’s delight, causing them to be silenced to soak up the new sounds and lyrics. There were some mixed reviews from some members I spoke to after, many saying they would have preferred just the older music.
However, what really cemented the night was the encore, in which Bancroft asked the audience for complete silence. Worcester pulled out a ukelele, and softly transferred into song “Cure of the Currents”, with each member joining in slowly with their instruments.
Maybe it’s because I’m also from B.C., but the references to my home province and the vulnerability of the band to take risk in their closing performance really showcased why Said the Whale is a Juno-winning band.
As the last string was plucked and the lights lifted, my eye caught the face of the girl next to me, which was streaked with tears. There are no other words. Her expression summed up how everyone felt in some way after witnessing Said the Whale.