Behind Sapphire w/ Treelines & David Vertesi @ St James Hall -- 01/21/11

It had been a while since I saw a show at St. James Hall; mostly by design, since despite its great sound, it can get incredibly hot and stuffy in there. Especially if you have high energy bands playing. But even though I avoided shows there in the past, I could not pass up the trio of bands there last night.

David Vertesi -- who I've now seen play four times in the last two months -- was up first, and it seems like almost every time he has different composition to his band. This time he was joined by drums and [sometimes upright] bass, the latter of which played by Peter Carruthers (of Said The Whale & Siskiyou). And, of course, the keytar, which drummer Dan Klenner (Hey Ocean!) also played. As I mentioned the last show, as much as I like his acoustic sets, the full band lets him really cut loose, as with the dynamic ending to "Born To Run" or the upbeat "Mountainside". Both of which were great, and adhered to his mantra that night that his songs would "make old people dance and young people cry". Vertesi also seems to be getting more and more talkative during his shows, joking with the crowd between songs. He took a tuning-lull and turned that into the opportunity to come up with a couple "codewords" to elicit cheers throughout the set.

Next up was Treelines, who always bring an exorbitant amount of energy on stage. The Brothers Lockhart and Matt Kelly were joined by fill in drummer, Grant, and started off with "Statuette", cranking the energy -- and power kicks -- through most of the set. They focused on the Young Man EP, but also played a couple from their previous self titled album. One such, when they brought the energy down for a moment, was "Canadian Airlines" where the Matts, Lockhart & Kelly, were joined by Rebecca Slaven on accordion. It was a really cool addition to the song (even if there did seem to be some sound issues with the accordion). There were also a few new songs throughout the set, including one called "Linked Arms" and "Cowbell" which, as you might guess, features a solo from the eponymous instrument.
I think the best indication of the passion Treelines has on stage is bassist Steve Lockhart, who sings along to almost every word of every song... even though he only "officially" joins in on vocals for a few small parts -- the whole band shares that level of energy, and it's one of the main reasons that makes them so fun to watch live.

Finally was Behind Sapphire, who were playing their last Vancouver show before heading out on tour. They hit the stage with a half dozen members (including one new), and while they may not have the same intensity as Treelines before them, they are no less energetic live. Between their soul-funk-pop songs, lead singer Grant singing into his trumpet bell -- not to mention his cape and genie shoes -- and natural joking around between songs, the best way to describe their show would be whimsical.
Starting with "Oh My, What A Fine Day" -- which has a new video out by the fine folks at Amazing Factory -- they definitely had the all ages crowd engaged. Playing mostly from their self titled album, they also had a new song, which showed the band was stretching their musical wings -- while most of their songs don't necessarily sound repetitive, they definitely all have a distinctive sound to them, so it was nice to hear them expanding their repertoire.
I have seen them a few times over the last few months, and I would say they are doing nothing but getting better.