Review – Woods at the Fox Cabaret, Vancouver, Aug. 1 2014
– by Thalia Stopa
It was a night of breaking rules at the Fox CabaretÂ this Friday. To start,Â soundcheckÂ was still in progress atÂ showtime, scheduled forÂ 8 p.m.Â sharp so that the venue could be cleared out for its weekly Hotline dance party. A line-up of fiveÂ had already formed behind the velvet rope by the time I arrived. Finally, we were allowed to quench our thirst and boredom while localsÂ Three Wolf MoonÂ finished their preparations.
The Vancouver band was actually a pack of four, whoÂ playÂ bluesy, synth-laden psych-rock. The leader of said “pack” had a howl like a youngÂ JulianÂ Casablancas. Overall, their performance should have incited a foot-stomping, hip-swinging ruckus but, as Adam GrantÂ noted to the small, prompt audience, “Jesus, that doesn’t sound like aÂ Friday night…perk up!” By the time that the young, virile rockers had wrapped up their four-song set – including the dedicatory “Joe Walsh” – the audience had at least doubled in size and were starting to heed their advice and “have a sip”, so it was a warmer reception for the night’s second actÂ Quilt.
The BostonÂ band’s first several notes unassumingly blended into the intermission deejay’s music. The band too was petit and understated in stature. Singer/guitarist/keyboardistÂ Anna FoxÂ RochinskiÂ had the angelic vocals befitting of her dark, elfish looks, and guitarist/singer Shane Butler and bassist/singerÂ KevenÂ Lareau donned the sparse, pubescent facial hair to match. DrummerÂ John AndrewsÂ rounded out the twee foursome with his lanky, boyish stature. The three young men, each topped with a quirky hat, resembled characters from aÂ Wes AndersonÂ film. Their music too had elements of an Anderson film score: cutesy but a little dark and surreal.
The latter came out more as their set progressed. The four twee bandmates were at their most charming during songs that demonstrated their vocal harmonies.Â Rochinski’sÂ airy vocals floatedÂ over ButlerÂ andÂ Lareau’sÂ chanting for the song “Young Gold”,Â off of the band’sÂ 2011’s full-length, self-titled debut.Â The stage lit with pink, green and red spotlights, Quilt wrapped the audience up in theÂ comforting,Â colourfulÂ sounds off of that album and this year’sÂ Held In Splendor. Unfortunately, despite the delayed show, there were still sound issues, and the feedback fromÂ Rochinski’sÂ microphone broke their spell a few times during Quilt’s set.
Andrews shifted his position to behind the keyboards for headlinersÂ Woods‘Â long-awaitedÂ performance. The Brooklyn psyche-folk actÂ apologized profusely, but refused to begin their set until the sound was adequate. Technically the 10 p.m. curfew had passed by the time that the indie rockers were ready, andÂ still, singer/guitaristÂ Jeremy EarlÂ delicate vocals were lost for their opening song “Leaves Like Glass”. When EarlÂ asked how they sounded, the audience adamantly demanded more vocals, and from then on it was relatively smooth sailing.
No one in the sizeable audience would have disputed that it was worth the wait.Â The band played a set culled from several albums throughout their nine-year output andÂ demonstrated WOODS’Â versatilityÂ with songs rangingÂ fromÂ twangyÂ folk likeÂ Â “Shepherd” andÂ “Suffering Season”Â (fromÂ At Echo Lake,Â 2010), which featured AndrewsÂ on tambourine and harmonica,Â to the heavierÂ final song of the night, the titleÂ track from this year’s With Light and With Love. EarlÂ switched from acoustic to electric guitar, and just as suavely betweenÂ bittersweet pop melodies and crashing waves ofÂ psychedelia. Sometimes the switch was within a single song,Â such as for “Just to See”Â (Sun and Shade, 2011).
Video – Woods, “New Light”:
WOODS’ other main component, JarvisÂ Taveniere,Â emphatically wrung notes fromÂ his guitar and squeezed every ounce of energy out of himself,Â shoulder-shruggingÂ and head-banging when it was appropriate.Â The band, which includedÂ drummerÂ AaronÂ NeveuÂ and bassistÂ Chuck VanÂ Dyck, seemedÂ unfazed by the time constraint, and played an awesome 12-song set. Granted, they are a band well acquainted with bending the rules… musically, at least.