Photographs by Tyson Elder

Victoria, BC often gets forgotten on small Pacific Northwest tours, especially when it comes to bands from the states. That isn’t the case with The Cave Singers. At least once or twice a year, Pete Quirk and company make their way to our Island. Whether it’s here in Victoria or at Ucluelet’s Otalith Music Festival, it’s fair to say the band loves this part of the world.

We’ve heard that the buffet on BC Ferries helps get them to Victoria too. Quite a step up from the bare bones ferries in Washington State.

Sugar Nightclub was unbearably dark and noisy. The crowd hovered at the back of the room near the bar, never quite making it to the dance floor for Kathryn Calder’s set. The only folks on the dance floor were the two photographers on assignment struggling to get something usable in the darkness.

Local musician Kathryn Calder might be best known for her contributions to The New Pornographers, but it is her solo music where she truly shines. Her music ranges from fun pop songs to slightly folky indie gems.

As the crowd talked louder and louder at the back of the room, Kathryn Calder’s set grew louder as well. Moving through tried and true songs from her first two solo records, “Are You My Mother?” and “Bright & Vivid” into the uncharted territory of her new self-titled record due out this April.

Not only was this the first time that anyone has really gotten a chance to hear these new songs, but it was also the first time this formation of Kathryn Calder’s band had played together live. So it was quite surprising to hear how in sync the band seemed to be.

Judging by the last two songs of Kathryn’s set, “Take a Little Time” and “When You See My Blood!,” her new record is going to be a quite different from her other records. Both songs were exciting to hear and see live as they build  into heavy, bombastic sounds full of fuzz.

They left the crowd wanting more, even though very few had made it to the dance floor. Most were sitting on the stairs or in the chairs that management had brought down to entice people to come closer to the stage.

The last time The Cave Singers played at Sugar Nightclub, the night was filled with sound issues, and it really seemed to affect their performance. Luckily, those issues had been resolved this time around, so the three-piece could really give it their all.

Unlike Kathryn Calder’s set, the dance floor was filled with people for The Cave Singers, and most of them were doing their impression of dancing. There was certainly an Elaine Benes or two in that group.

It was overheard somewhere that “seeing The Cave Singers is my church!” Adding the religious sentiment to their set might have explained some of the dancing, and that one girl who was speaking in tongues. In all seriousness though, it’s interesting how transfixed you can get on Peter Quirk’s vocal styling and movements.The band is quite dynamic, capturing your attention as they switch instruments, or while Derek Fudesco plays guitar and bass pedals at the same time.

There have been unconfirmed rumours floating around the internet about the Cave Singers working on new music for a follow up to 2013’s “Naomi,” and they’ve been exactly that: rumours.

Or, at least, it was until their show at Victoria’s Sugar Nightclub, when they energetically debuted a new song, having only played it live once before in Spokane the previous evening. Unfortunately, you couldn’t hear the song title when Peter mentioned it because the crowd was talking so loud.

Their set was peppered with everyone’s favourite songs off “Naomi” and “No Witch,” but the song “Haller Lake” is always a treat to see live. You’ve got to love the use of a melodica in that song.

Through and through, The Cave Singers continue to be a dynamic and sonically interesting band to see live. There are always new surprises waiting in their sets and arrangements, no matter how many times you see them live. It’s encouraging when a band can stay fresh and interesting to a crowd of new and old fans.

Excitement is already brewing for the band’s next island appearance, this August in Tofino for a Otalith Music Festival preparty. It’s a day before the festival, and only available to those who buy presale tickets.