Hot on the heels of a successful first installment of The Zone’s Band of the Month Showcase earlier this month — which included The Wild Romantics, LABS, Lovecoast, and Fallbrigade —the remaining four acts featured as part of this year’s BotM program took to the stage at Distrikt Friday night to strut their stuff. It was another eclectic night of local music, as bands with starkly different styles each brought their own distinctive flair to the proceedings.
The nice thing about an early show (7:00 pm doors, 8:00 pm showtime) is that you can soak up a whole evening of music and still be home chilling out by just after 11:00. That is, unless you’re an enterprising young concert photog like Rocktographers’ own Lindsey Blane. In that case, you’re rushing across downtown to get to Sugar just as The Pack A.D. is hitting the stage because you must TAKE ALL THE PHOTOS. Look, we don’t all have your boundless energy, Lindsey! But I digress. Let’s rewind.
Kicking things off for Showcase #2 was Band of the Month for June, Grizzly Timbers. Undoubtedly the most understated group in this foursome, Kiel, Stephen, Seamus, and Adam are purveyors of quintessential west coast folk music. They’ve described themselves simply as “friends making music,” which certainly encapsulates their aesthetic. Watching these guys mix introspective dirges with more up beat traditional folk gives you the sense of hanging with your pals at a house party – or, even better, gathering around a campfire jam. These guys are really about that island life. And we get it.
Shifting gears, the second band to the stage was August BotM Croatia. Tashiina Buswa (vocals), Steve Mitchell (synths/drum pad), Matt Dell (guitar/synths) and Ben Erikson (drums) showed off their inimitable synth and loop-driven style for the crowd. A stark contrast to the rest of the bands on the docket, this group is all about layered electronic soundscapes. The dream of the ’80s is alive in Croatia, and the crowd was entranced, with significant traffic moving onto the dance floor during their set, which featured multiple tracks off their new album I Wish I Could Be Holy. The performance was somewhat bittersweet though, as Tash announced she would soon be leaving the group to move to Montreal, although she intimated that Steve and Matt would be carrying on the Croatia torch without her, so we look forward to whatever iteration of the group resurfaces next.
Third in the evening’s program was soulful roots rocker Sam Weber who, along with his bandmates Peter Day (keys), Esme John (bass), and Marshall Wildman (drums), easily qualify as the hardest-working band of the night. Fresh off a cross-Canada tour that includes numerous dates in big cities and small towns across western Canada and Ontario in support of his recent album Valentina Nevada, Weber has honed his image as a true road dog. His mandate is to play “anywhere and everywhere,” and his songwriting deftly encapsulates the soul of a traveller. Oh, and he’s no slouch on the guitar, either. As an added bonus for the Distrikt crowd, Weber welcomed Clare Butterfield from local folk trio Fox Glove to help provide backing vocals for the last half of his set.
Rounding out the evening’s performance in swaggering style were popular post-punk exemplars No Liars. And what a way to close things out it was. The band, featuring Noah Edwards (guitar/vocals), Eric Paone (guitar), Jonathan Graves (bass), and Mike Battle (drums), got things cranked up (waaay up) at the beginning of their set, with frontman Morley Graff bounding on stage at the last second before launching into all-out attack mode on the mic. These guys ratcheted up the energy in a big way, delivering a fluid mix of blistering-tempo punk infused with dynamic, haunting melodies. Their sound is hardcore. It’s edgy. It’s exquisite. Who could ask for anything more?
With that, another year of The Zone’s Band of the Month program is in the books. We look forward to January to see what 2017 has in store.