It’s always a little weird seeing a concert in a church. Maybe it’s the giant cross that makes for a distracting backdrop or maybe it’s the even bigger ideology that hangs above us in the vaulted ceilings. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, there is a certain indescribable energy that fills church halls and places of worship. Something that, at times, feels outdated and old fashioned, but calmly reassuring about our mortality.
As we walked into the Gordon Head United Church, we were greeted by familiar smiling faces and ushered quickly to our seats. Sam Weber (a last minute addition to the lineup) was about to go on. Sam has quickly become one of my favourite local acts. I’ve seen him and his band several times this year, but it was a rare treat to see the young musician perform solo. It’s always interesting to see how those full band songs transition to solo situations. Sam’s songwriting clearly lends itself to both, but I would have liked to seen him sit down at a piano to play “Valentina.”
Right after Sam Weber’s set, Luca Fogale took the stage. His voice hung in the air, amongst the candlelight which illuminated the stage and walkways of the church. It’s hard not to fall for Luca’s stunning voice. It leaves goosebumps on your skin, especially in a room that was built to harness the natural acoustics of a choir and a preacher. Intimate settings are where Luca Fogale shine, and you can usually can find him amongst the sea of ladies utterly in love with him.
Tyson Motsenbocker’s debut full length record Letters to Lost Lovers is a moving and cohesive piece of music which reflects on the passing of his mother, his struggles with religion, and his journey along the coast to San Fransisco. His lead single off the album, “Can’t Come Home Again,” awakened a feeling of wanderlust in me, and what it felt like coming home after backpacking years ago.
Over the years, I’ve had a chance to meet Tyson Motsenbocker a few times through mutual friends and mutual interest in a the podcast Roderick on The Line. While I fought the urge to yell out “Supertrain!” in the middle of the show, it was clear to me the influence John Roderick has had on Tyson’s stage presence, with more confident and humorous stage banter. Even when you could tell Tyson was on the edge of tears talking about his mother, there was a honesty that connected with the audience. It’s a great skill to have and I’m glad to see other fans of Roderick on the Line taking a page from John’s books.
Joining Tyson on the stage for a majority of the show was fellow Californian Keith Tutt II on the cello, adding depth to a night full of singer-songwriters. After a night of acoustic guitars and dudes singing, things can be forgotten, but Keith was a welcome addition to the evening. After the show, I had a chance to chat with Keith Tutt II briefly about his venue in Redlands (just outside of Los Angeles) and his passion for live music. I’m looking forward to checking out his space next time I’m back in California.
While the night was moodily lit, it was an uplifting night of singer-songwriters doing what they do best. The night was filled with smiles, laughter, and great music. If only every time I’ve gone to a church it felt like this.