Shearwater at the Biltmore Cabaret

Wye Oak at the Biltmore Cabaret, April 28 2010. Photo by Robyn Hanson

Wye Oak at the Biltmore Cabaret, April 28 2010. Photo by Robyn Hanson

Photos and review—Shearwater with Wye Oak at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, April 28 2010

– review by Shawn Conner/photos by Robyn Hanson

The pairing of Wye Oak and Shearwater is definitely a show that is more than the sum of its parts.

At the Vancouver tour stop, the Baltimore duo and the Austin quintet shared members as well as an aesthetic that complemented each other. Where Wye Oak drenches its songs in feedback, and seem to fight to contain the tunes, the slower-paced Shearwater draw their songs out, giving them space and time and lots of build-up. One’s scrappy, the other’s austere, but both are serious bands with some serious (and seriously good) songs.

This was (I believe) only Shearwater’s second trip up here – the first time, in 2008 for its Rooks album, the band opened for British band Clinic at Richard’s on Richards. A headlining show to a smaller audience, the Biltmore set was often stunning but also at times required a little too much patience, at least for this listener. The different arrangements, with drummer Thor Harris sometimes playing glockenspiel, and Meiburg alternating between keyboards and guitar, helped, as did the latter’s stage presence – he comes off at times like David Byrne, jittery yet in control. Maybe it was the lateness of the hour – the band didn’t knock off ’til 1, on a school night – but Wye Oak‘s proved to be the more memorable set.

No doubt, Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have some pretty great tunes – I think particularly of “Siamese” and “That I Do” – but mainly, Wasner is just fun to watch. Whether playing guitar like a distaff J. Mascis or rocking out on percussion with the headliner, she seemed to be having the most fun of anyone in the room. Still, everyone who came out to this one – well, with the exception of a few people who looked like they were wondering how they’d ended up watching a man named Thor play a clarinet – came out ahead.

More Shearwater Vancouver concert photos:

More Wye Oak concert photos:

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