Back to the glistening décor that is the Horseshoe, the Torontonians and out-of-towners eagerly waited the showcase of the Maryland based duo, Wye Oak. This show was an interesting one for me. It was the first time that I had been to a show where the bands chose to control the house music for before the acts, in between, and after in order to set the vibe and feel for their sets. It is an avenue that many should venture down but not many do. This was also my first show to review where I have been a big supporter of the band for quite some time before. I was very excited for their performance to say the least.
The first act was Canada’s own Braids. This was an impressive trio of musicians and with the ‘shoe’s mighty stage (heat) lamps in place and set to 11, the motivated group of multi-instrumentalists hit the stage. With a modest intro, appealing to the natives of our great city with talk of our coffee shops and uplifting energy, the crowd was swooned. They fell into a hauntingly quiet and beautiful daze, pulsating with every beat and every dynamic change in melody. Braids used a variety of effects and impressive variety of facial expressions to effectively get across their passion and skill that was put into their desert studio recordings. One aspect they brought to the table was a good mix of digital and acoustic percussion. Keeping aside the fact that the drummer was incredible, the use of live drums was a nice addition to their already strong arsenal of digital sound. They set the bar high for the night.
Wye Oak came out of the gate screaming. They’re on this tour in support of their new album “Shriek”, and that’s exactly what the fans did. They opened with the first track of the album, “Before”, capturing the curiosity of the crowd, and showcasing how they are able to push the limits in more than one aspect. I had heard rumors of their live show, how they push the abilities of their performance and that of their ability to produce such intricate live ballads. Between the drummer’s “Rick Allen” style of precision, and his incredible ability to bypass using arpeggiators, he jumped right to accurately playing the set of notes, encompassed in each arpeggio. After playing few new tracks, they turned up the heat and played a few classics, giving the crowd exactly what they came there for. The energy flipped. People moved. I was seeing all the rumors and stories come to life and they exceeded their reputation of an engaging performance. They continued to unveil their new material, mixing in the hits, and giving the energy a high to reach for. It was a solid performance and it was truly evident that they put a lot into their new material.