Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Live w/ Hey Ocean!, We Are The City, The Belle Game & Aidan Knight @ Stanley Park -- 07/10/11

It was the final night of Summer Live, a free outdoor festival at Brockton Point in Stanley Park to celebrate the 125th birthday of Vancouver (see bloggery about night two here) and they were determined to keep the great bands coming -- as well as the headache and heartbreak of overlapping schedules.

The day started a little earlier than the previous, for me anyway, as Victoria's Aidan Knight took the Trail Stage at 4pm to a nice sized crowd. He started off the set with "Friendly Fires", off his latest 7", followed by a couple of new ones -- one of which I had heard before and really like, which I dub "Jean Baptiste" (playing the guess-the-name-of-the-new-song game). A couple songs in he realised he forgot a capo, so while flugelhorn-extraordinaire Julia Wakal ran to grab it, it was Story Time with Aidan Knight. That, combined with a story he told later about "North East South West", were great examples of Knight's charmingly awkward banter. There was another new one in the set, the incredibly beautiful "Margaret Downe", and he played the song "The Sun" just as the star The Sun was coming out from behind the clouds. And after an intense ending to "Knitting Something Nice For You", the set came to a close as Aidan's shows usually do; With an extended intro to draw out the anticipation, he launched in to "Jasper", with many people singing along. As usual, a great set from Aidan, and I was relieved as the Trail Stage seemed to have better sound that the main stage, one thing that bugged me the previous day.

setlist
Friendly Fires, Jean Baptiste[?], new, Altar Boys, Margaret Downe, The Sun, Land's End, North East South West, Knitting Something Nice For You, Jasper.


Up next was The Belle Game, once again joined by Andrew Lee of The Ruffled Feathers. With their rich and textured chamber pop sound, I was interested to see how they would turn out on an outdoor stage, and they managed to sound pretty amazing, unsurprisingly. They were incredibly tight and brimming with so much energy that they were just fun to watch.
Along with their own songs, they slipped in a pretty good cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire", and they ended with what was probably my favourite of the set, "I Left This Place". But as they were called back out for an encore by the persistent cheering, they shyly came back and admitted they didn't know any more songs, and if they did do one more, it would be one they already played. The crowd did not seem to care in the slightest and they returned to [re]play their single "Sleep To Grow", which was... interesting. Definitely the first time I had seen that done. But they managed to make it fresh and it was definitely memorable.

There was a bit of a lull next, some time to relax and I caught the last bit of the VSO and the first song from Spirit of the West on the main stage before heading back for Kelowna's We Are The City. No matter how many times I see them live (pretty sure this was number 12), they never fail to blow my mind with how good they are. And last night was no exception, as they all so intense. They sounded as good as ever, and the "new" guitarist Blake has meshed with Andy & Cayne incredibly well.
The set started with a twist and Andy on vocals for "Dark/Warm Air", before Cayne took over again for "Morning Song". Each and every member had unparalleled energy; Cayne jumping around when he could, Blake breaking the strap on his guitar from rocking out so hard, and Andy needing a new kick pedal at one point. There was also the usual funny banter, including tales of Cayne & Andy attending a wedding dressed as pirates, and Andy (reluctantly) showing off his chest hair, which is not quite at Sean Connery levels of fur, to what he thought was just the front row, but he forgot about the jumbotrons.
After a few more songs, including "Time, Wasted" -- which at least one person in the crowd was actually in tears for (not me) -- and one of my favourites, "Astronomers", Cayne took over guitar duties for "1987", which led into "An Angel In White", and they ended off the set with "Get Happy". They too were being cheered for an encore, but Andy came out apologetically and said that was all they had, and thanked everyone again.
Seeing them live always just reinforces why they are one of my favourite bands.

setlist
Dark/Warm Air, Morning Song, There Are Very Tiny Beasts In The Ground, Happy New Year, Time Wasted, That's It That's All, April, Astronomers, 1987, An Angel In White, Get Happy.


Then was time for an incredibly difficult decision: Dan Mangan or Hey Ocean!. Aside from a couple songs at the Valentine's Day show, I hadn't seen Hey Ocean! in a little over a year, and had seen Dan thrice since then, so using that logic, I stuck to the Trail Stage for Ashleigh Ball, David Vertesi and Dave Beckingham, or as they're collectively know, Hey Ocean!. They were joined by a few others to round out the band, including Devon Lougheed of Beekeeper, and I had forgotten what an incredibly fun band they are to watch live. All the members full of energy, especially Devon, but especially lead singer/flautist Ashleigh Ball, who was dancing and twirling all over the stage.
They had a ton of fun with their songs, too. "Fish" came complete with the bubble makers, and there were a few covers slipped in. One full song -- "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes which ended with all the members huddled around the drum kit playing it -- and a few songs ended with a couple verses added on to the end. "Make A New Dance Up", my favourite of their new songs, ended with "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", "Jolene" went into Coldplay's "Fix You" and there was a little of "Where It's At" by Beck at the end of "Beatboxer (Who Broke My Heart)", the song that epitomized the band's sheer amount of fun; Ball's rapping, Beckingham's beatboxing, and Devon playing MC as each member exuded joy.
They ended the night with another highlight of the set, a song I didn't catch the name of, but featured a little bit of harmonized rapping at the beginning. Yeah.
And while I am a little sad I didn't get to see Dan, didn't see 10,000 people singing "Robots" or see Aidan join him on stage to sing "Jasper", I do not at all regret picking Hey Ocean!, as they put on an incredibly fun show.

In all it was a spectacular couple of days, and I really hope the city decides to do something similar (if not on as big a scale) next year. Who says birthdays have to be celebrated on fives and tens?

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