It was an evening of hot and sultry sound at Sugar Nightclub last Friday night, with Seattle-based blues rockers Pickwick returning to Victoria for their first appearance since 2016’s Phillips Backyard Weekender.
Opening act The Velveteins warmed up the relatively sparse crowd with a slate of their signature psych/surf rock tunes. The Edmonton trio has now become something of a regular fixture in Victoria this summer, coming off their double appearance earlier in July at Phillips Backyard and Atomique’s official afterparty later the same night, also at Sugar. Lead singer Spencer Morphy, backed by bassist Dean Kheroufi and drummer/vocalist Addison Hiller, ruled the roost without shoes, going barefoot for a performance that flitted from “serious” songs to more “fun” tracks, as the band navigated through a set that included content from the 2015 EP A Hot Second With the Velveteins and their debut full album Slow Wave, which came out this past May. They also rocked a gritty version of Bad Company’s iconic track “Feel Like Making Love,” which elicited some serious head bobbing in the crowd.
The crowd had filled in a bit more by the time Pickwick hit the stage, but the show was nowhere near a sell-out, which was a bit disappointing, considering the talent on stage. That said, Pickwick (much like this year’s Phillips Backyard standout and fellow Washington State resident Allen Stone) is one of those groups with immense talent that just kind of fly under the radar, so it’s not a massive surprise that this show was criminally underattended.
Fronted by lead singer Galen Disston, along with with Michael Parker on guitar, Garrett Parker on bass, Cassidy Lillstrom on keyboard, and Alex Waistcoat on drums, Pickwick blends elements of blues rock, soul, and R&B to create a sound that’s all their own. Disston is a particularly talented vocalist with great range, including a sweet-sounding falsetto, and the group’s tight vocal harmonies are a nice complement to their modernized ’70s rock sound that often draws comparisons to current artists like The Black Keys and Alabama Shakes.
Their set included favourites from their 2013 album Can’t Talk Medicine, including “Hacienda Motel” and “Lady Luck,” along with a sampling from their brand new album LoveJoys, which was just released on July 17. Overall, it was an exuberant performance, with keyboardist Cassidy Lillstrom introducing one of the new tracks with the instruction, “We hope this song leads you to sex. You need to f*** the s*** outta each other because the world needs more Canadians. Make Canada bigger!”
Pickwick: they like us. They really like us!