Saturday, February 20, 2010

Live Blogging Olympic Music : Karkwa, Jill Barber & Hawksley Workman

I assure you the belatedness of this live blogging business is due to obligatory bodily demands such as sleep and food. I'll try to have a blog entry or Flickr photo set for every night that I attend shows for.

At this point, Canada was 4th place in terms of medal count. 90+% of Canadians had watched at least part of an Olympic sporting event on TV. And by Wednesday, February 17, 2010, the cultural component of the Olympics brought out the big guns with one of Canadian indie's hottest exports Feist and Chilly Gonzales playing a paid show at the Orpheum, and hurtin' Albertan Corb Lund playing LiveCity Yaletown. And of course, the shows below.

It's fair to say that I had no expectations whatsoever of Karkwa when I entered the Air Canada Stage at la Place de la Francophonie at an early 6pm. I had heard raving reviews of them from good friend Kirk at 3amrevelations and decided to venture out to Granville Island, on a sort of blind musical date. It's more than fair to say that Karkwa got a second date; they were a shock and a delight. Like fellow Francophone rockers Malajube, the members of Karkwa have a knack for knitting together elaborate, dazzling rock compositions that astound you with their beauty but knock you backwards with their force. And what a force! They had both percussionist Julien Sagot and drummer St├ęphane Bergeron pounding on floor toms for many of the songs. Lead guitarist and vocalist Louis-Jean Cormier complemented the complex musical backdrop not by an overpowering voice, but by using his voice as another layer.

Next up, we have the lovely Jill Barber at the Richmond O Zone. After Karkwa, my company and I rushed from Granville Island to the nearby Vancouver suburb to catch Barber as she wraps up the first song in her set. With only a keyboardist and guitarist accompanying her, Jill Barber put on a stripped down show consisting equally of songs from older albums, as well as from her jazz-infused latest Chances. Her sultry presence and set full of romantic songs about love and loves lost had couples slow dancing in the audience, and the rest of us feeling kind of nostalgic.

After Jill left the stage, the crew hands set up the stage for the last anticipated act-- Hawksley Workman. Fronted by Ryan Corrigan (aka. Hawksley Workman) and backed by his companion Todd Lumley, aka. Mr. Lonely and full backing band, Hawksley put on not only a musically entertaining show, but showed his prowess as a performer with a hilarious and banterful stage presence. Always engaging, with stories that range from sexual dreams to moving to Amsterdam for a lover and so much more, Hawksley engaged us for the full hour and a bit that he was on stage. The set was heavy on new material off his newest Meat and Milk, with only the last three songs being older favourites-- "Smoke Baby," "Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off On Me," and "The City Is A Drag."

For live tweets from more Olympic shows, check out my Twitter.