It was a strange day: moving from a concert marking the passing of an inspirational figure to a gig proper was definitely a first for me. Fortunately, the introspective and often moody music this stellar line-up provided was a fitting cap to the day. Despite it being midweek, Cameron House was packed and rightfully so.
The Stefi Beck Band
First round of kudos deserved: performing with a keyboard player you’ve been working with for two weeks and back-up vocalists you’ve been jamming with for a month and sounding perfectly polished. It’s obvious that Beck is a professional and, most importantly, enjoys playing her music. Classically trained guitarist and vocalist Stefi Beck definitely reminds one of Sheryl Crow with her bluesy voice with a hint of grit. A folk-rock sound is married to songwriting chops on par with some of the best on the local scene (Karen Kosowski; Emma-Lee), resulting in music that feels comfortable and inviting. Tales of love unfold that are familiar yet anything but tired. Keep your eyes on her.
Established on the indie scene, Waxmen come out swinging, rock out hard and leave no ears untouched. 90s teens and tweens, remember when Edge 102.1 was nice and crunchy? Pearl Jam released Ten (still their best album), The Headstones rocked out with bluesy overtones, Big Wreck had That Song we all knew… It was a good era for alternative rock. Grungey, melodic ear candy. Well, that’s what Waxmen bring to the table. Moody lyrics are accented by delicious guitar riffs Billy Gibbons would approve. At times, they rock out hard enough to evoke Metallica’s black album. “Shadow” was my favourite tune of the set. Definitely check them out and stay tuned for a review of their last album, eleven.
I don’t need to wax poetic on the talents of Future History; I’m pretty sure my recent review of their stellar album Loss:/Self made very clear what they bring to the sonic table. That said, there’s a reason they’ve garnered nominations for “Best Live Band” from the TIMAs for two years in a row.
It’s a testament to their dedication to their creation that they find a way to bring an expansive and layered album to a live setting with five sets of hands and not lose any of the artistry and passion. Drums, loops, guitars and keys come together with impressive vocals to deliver songs that strike you in the chest or alternately have you rocking out. In their live incarnation, songs rock a little harder, vocals soar a little higher, but neither studio cut nor live version is better – just different. It makes for a live show as engaging as the album.
Highlights of this set included older tune “Names For Numbers” (a first for this particular band configuration), “Good Little Robot”, “Leaves”, “Hold On/Let Go”, “Surrounded By Faces” and “In This Sleep:/Creatures”, which is probably my least favourite track on the album (I still really enjoy it, but don’t always spin in) but live, it exploded and was mesmerizing. And yes, I listed half the set and that was the most restraint I could show. This band’s a live treat and not to be missed.
Play the Part
Good Little Robot
Names For Numbers
Erasable Ink on a Lost To-Do List (Scraps of Me)
(Don’t) Let This Go
Hold On/ Let Go
Surrounded by Faces
In This Sleep:/Creatures