Review and photos – The Salteens at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Oct 9 2010
- review by Ria Nevada/photos by Ashley Tanasiychuk
On a typical rainy night, I had the unfortunate luck of stepping right into a massive puddle at the corner of Broadway and Cambie. I’ve always maintained that there’s nothing more disheartening in the world than a pair of wet socks. I was not looking forward to spending the next three hours in this cold and disgruntled state.
But Saturday night’s musical offerings at the Biltmore were just the cure to my misery. The venue housed an intimate gathering to celebrate the launch of The Salteens’ latest record, Grey Eyes.
The Vancouver-based ensemble has had a few surprising turns since their birth in 2000. Personal tragedies in frontman Scott Walker’s life, a few changes in the band’s line-up, and a thriving relationship with the children’s phenomenon Yo Gabba Gabba, are just a few of the unexpected events that have influenced the group’s unpredictable and eclectic sound. Ongoing support from Boompa Records has aided the band’s growth and public exposure in the past 7 years.
But before the main act, Colleen and Paul moved the mellow audience with their humble and endearing acoustic act. The pair looked slightly frightened on stage, but masked their shyness with dimpled smiles. The latest additions to the Boompa family traveled from Toronto to familiarize West Coasters with their first full-length release. [Editor’s note: Prior to Colleen and Paul, Vancouver’s The Wind Whistles also played.]
Self-described as part Simon and Garfunkel, part Laurel and Hardy, Colleen and Paul’s CD features simple, warm-hearted melodies gilded with airy harmonies. Colleen Hixenbaugh’s pure, downy voice and Paul Linklater’s classical guitar solos evoke the earthy and idealistic music of the ’70s folk movement. According to Paul, the somber lullaby “Shouldn’t I Breathe” was even inspired by a CMT biopic of Karen Carpenter.
With other songs in their backpocket written about ladybugs, mermaids and surfer girls, I wouldn’t be surprised if they get scooped up by the producers of Yo Gabba Gabba as well. Their good-natured presence definitely set the wholesome tone of the evening.
After the stage was cleared, The Salteens planted themselves before the audience, squeezing a brass section, drum set and upright bass behind Carrie Tennant on keyboard and vocals. Walker hopped onto the stage, snapping his fingers and shuffling his feet immediately to “Last Train from London”. The swingin’ number hearkened back to the cheery and playful pop numbers of the ’60s, an era that has also been revived by the likes of Dressy Bessy and Of Montreal.
The soaring trombone, trumpet and saxophone riffs shaped the marching rhythm of “Everything They Know About Us”, another one of the band’s boppy tunes. Walker’s slicked back hair, theatrical voice and rounded enunciation made him the most animated character onstage. In a short interlude, he mocked his boisterous voice in comparison to musical partner Tennant’s sweet and lovable tone. Her vocals were heard on “Savings and Loans”, an absolutely endearing waltz. The “oompas” added by the tuba were a very nice touch to the lullaby, I might add.
The Salteens showed off their dynamism on tracks like “You Stayed Up With the Lights On” and “You’re Taking All of This Too Far”. The latter slowly built from a romantic elegy to a funky dance number. Judging from the amount of twisting on the dance floor, the entire crowd appreciated the band’s cheery and sometimes mischievous approach to pop music. Their repertoire seemed to bring out the inner child in everyone, in all the best ways. I left the show warm and giddy, and strangely excited to stay in the next day for Sunday morning cartoons.
More photos of The Salteens at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Oct 9 2010:
The Wind Whistles: