Friday night was the big homecoming for Vancouver's Said the Whale. Not only were they on the last leg of their eight week tour in support of their new album, Little Mountain, but they were coming home to an all ages show was just that: a range of young teens to older fans, and everyone in between at the sold out Vogue Theatre.
I missed the first band, Oh No Yoko, getting there just as Chains of Love hit the stage. The female-fronted band had a catchy 60s surf-rock and girl-pop sound, but few of their songs were distinguishable from each other. They were by no means bad, and were fairly energetic, but just seemed to be missing that one special quality that would push them over the edge. As much as I wanted to like them, they just fell a little flat; perhaps their sound would have been better suited for a more intimate venue.
Not long after, it was time for Said the Whale. Drummer Spencer Schoening coming out first, setting the mood and building anticipation before the rest of the members filed out on stage, immediately launching into "Heavy Ceiling". Their set ranged in songs from all over their career; from the huge hits, "This City's A Mess" that had the sold out venue singing and clapping along, to some deeper cuts, "Live Off Lamb" for the long-time fans. The driving power pop of Tyler Bancroft's songs like "Camilo" and "Lines" pairing perfectly with Ben Worcester's softer and more melancholic numbers like "A Cold Night Close to the End" and "The Reason".
Other highlights from the set included the infectious "Loveless" that saw keyboardist Jacelyn Brown step up for some vocals, and "Hurricane Ada", which is structured exactly like its namesake; a soft start, building in intensity before a calm "eye", and then bursting into a cacophonous ending.
They "wrapped up" the set with "Emerald Lake, AB", proudly and earnestly proclaiming "what a fine life we are living" before coming back for the obvious encore. It started with just Jacelyn on keys and Spencer taking over vocals for "Seasons" (before a quick stage dive) and then another old one -- and one of my favourites of theirs -- "My Government Heart". The song has a dark and, for lack of a better term, badass energy, with Tyler angrily spitting out the vocals, and I wish they had more songs like this in their later repertoire.
And finally, they brought the whole night to an end with the perfect closer, "Goodnight Moon", the crowd assisting the ragged-voiced Tyler on vocals and a dozen other musicians, from the opening acts and friends from other Vancouver bands, filling the stage for the joyous ending.
Clocking in at nearly two hours, it may have been a little too long, but that isn't to say I didn't enjoy every minute of it, and in the end the band gave it their all; from Ben breaking some strings to Tyler breaking his vocal chords, they had so much love for the hometown crowd, which was more than reciprocated right back at them.
Heavy Ceiling; This City's A Mess; Black Day In December; Lines; Out On The Shield; The Reason; O Alexandra; We Are 1980; Big Sky, MT; False Creek Change; The Light is You; Big Wave Goodbye; Jessie, AR; Live Off Lamb; Better For You; BC Orienteering; A Cold Night Close to the End; New Brighton; Lucky; Guilty Hypocrites; 2010; Hurricane Ada; Camillo (The Magician); The Gift of a Black Heart; Loveless; Emerald Lake, AB.
(encore) Seasons; My Government Heart; Goodnight Moon.