Last night was the CD release party for Christopher Smith's latest offering, Earning Keep. He was joined at the Waldorf by fellow Vancouverites The Belle Game and, a last minute addition to the show, Toronto's Snowblink. They were supposed to have a show at the Rickshaw on the same night, but I guess something happened and they were added to this bill.
Starting off the night was The Belle Game, the six of them (seven when Andrew Lee was out to play trumpet) packing the stage of the Waldorf. They filled the room with their indie-rock-slash-chamber-pop sounds and Andrea Lo's powerful voice -- even though they admitted she was feeling under the weather -- with songs from their upcoming album Ritual Tradition Habit.
Highlights included "Wasted Light" and the powerful "River", and the whole set was brought to an explosive climax with the first single from the new album, "Wait Up For You"; which, despite featuring the ever-prevalent singer-on-a-floor-tom for the intro, had an amazing energy & soared to an ending with Alex Andrew hopping off stage to finish off his frantic solo in the crowd.
Next up was Christopher Smith, joined by a few familiar faces; including Peter Carruthers on bass and Michelle Faehrmann out for a few songs on cello. He had a folksy, yet lush, rock sound, though a lot of the set was about the same tempo. It picking up slightly towards the end, with the last song, "No Light Could Pass Though Me so I Have a Shadow", being the highlight of the set, and definitely having highest energy, building to a grand crescendo of the band rocking out.
There wasn't much interaction through the set, a couple "thanks", here and there, but he preferred to let the music speak for itself.
It was a perfectly enjoyable set, but he was overshadowed by the other two acts of the night.
And finally, Snowblink took the stage to round out the night. I'm not sure if it was because it was pushing midnight on a Wednesday, or that they were a last minute addition, but sadly a lot of the crowd had dispersed, leaving only a couple dozen people. But that was their loss, as from the moment they hit stage, the duo of Daniela Gesundheit -- whose guitar had antlers mounted on it -- and Dan Goldman -- also on guitar -- were amazing. Daniela had a great presence and charisma on stage, as well as a stunning voice, and their ethereal dream-pop was captivating.
Even though the set wasn't technically "perfect" -- they had a couple issues throughout the night -- it felt very natural and loose, with them playing off the glitches perfectly and connecting with the small audience; at one point handing out bells so they could ring them on cue during one of their songs, and almost chatting one-to-one with people.
Highlights of the set included current single, the infectiously catchy "Black and White Mountains", which had Daniela on a drum pad, and a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper", which was introduced with Daniela simultaneously apologizing and saying "you're welcome".
All in all, it was a great night of music, with the acts being different enough, but still working perfectly together. I would see any one of the three again, especially Snowblink, who I hope is back soon for a longer show.