It was dark and dimly lit. The Park Theatre was about as full as it gets, and Moon Tan just finished wowing the crowd with their lively classic orginials and an incredible Rush cover. As usual, everyone flooded out for a cigarette or small talk between sets, myself included. I came back to a Hearing Trees I didn’t quite recognize.
It was my first time seeing them live. I had listened to Dear Sahara in my living room before, and their studio sound is crisp, well-rounded and consistent. I mean not to say their live performance isn’t those things though.
They brought a lot more attitude to the stage, and a nice dynamic range. They play a clean style rock, sturdy rhythms and some gutsy riffs. They apparently recorded this EP they released that night live off the floor of a bar. Which is pretty sweet I think. I’m listening to it right now, just over and over and recalling the whole night in my mind.
They started off that night with a bit more aggression than I expected. Their studio stuff is pretty chill, most of the instrumental is focused around the vocal line, the strings have a fun interplay with each other while building the melody, and together everything moves as a neat little package. The band doesn’t take too many liberties here and there — it’s all pretty tight, sounds pretty rehearsed. But they do play with attitude.
Stage presence makes all the difference. This guy on stage got very into his show. At one point he was running circles around the mic? Anyway, he had a lot of hand gestures and facial expressions and body movement to match his crisply Canadiana voice. I swear to God these guys could be like the next Barenaked Hips. Or, you know, they have that particular older-white dude sound to the voice that reminds me so much of Downie. And the lyrical writing that trails you along through songs, building you up and bringing you down and sounding like it makes a lot of sense but maybe not making much sense, who knows, the altering flow of syllables is what really makes it.
It sounds like this guy sings about some pretty deep stuff, too. Not that I managed to hear all the words at the show, but as I’m listening to Puppets now, I get a sense of meaning and impact through the lyrics. It sounds like things are important and have meaning (??? crazy idea). And the result is a very emotionally engaging, if not simple and direct, vocal melody.
Overall these guys are a very well-balanced band. They’re not super adventurous or weird or abrasive or other things that I personally like. They’re a really tight, solid sort of pop rock that’s reminiscent of prairies and Toronto. Their basslines carry as much the song as their guitar lines do, and the drummer works in the back as he should — to hold the whole show together.
I feel like these guys could wind up playing some really romantic music, some really accessible music, and possibly writing some really catchy and emotional tunes that would build a fan base of all age ranges. I don’t doubt they’d do well in any small Saskatoon shit bar, and I feel they’d be well-recieved in a larger venue too, like the Burt.
I think their audience wears hats and probably drinks lager.