Said the Whale @ Rio Theatre -- 12/16/12

It was a Christmas extravaganza at the Rio Theatre this weekend for a pair of sold out Said the Whale shows. I was at the second night, Sunday, where the stage was set to Maximum Christmas, with a yule log burning on the Rio's big screen before the show and light snowfall during; the bands were flanked by giant inflatable Santa & Frosty; strings of lights cross-crossing the stage; and a wreath hung on the kick drum. All it was missing was stockings hung with care.

Opening the night was Rococode with their dark yet catchy alt-pop. It was the first time I've seen them since their minor personnel change (a new drummer), but they were as good as ever, with songs like the soaring "Empire", which always gets stuck in my head, and "Ejay", that breaks down into an chaotic and cacophonous ending. After the haunting "Ghost I & II" (a song in dire need of a theremin) they wrapped up their opening spot with a new song, the holiday themed "Winter Revival".
They always put on an enjoyable show, with a high energy and the great harmonies with the vocals of Andrew & Laura intertwining, and this was no different.

Weapon, Run Run Run Run, Empire, Dreams, Blood, Ejay, The Riot, Ghost I & II, Winter Revival. 

Not long after that, the lights dimmed for Said the Whale and Ben came out and took a seat at the stand up piano on stage, first breaking out the recorder for some Little Drummer Boy, then starting the show with the Christmasy "The Bones of Winter". The rest of the band joined him -- all clad in Christmas sweaters -- for "Wanting Like Veruca" and getting the sold out theatre to clap along to "This City's A Mess".
They played a good mix of old and new, with some of their Christmas songs sprinkled in. For the past few years, they would put out a Christmas EP, and this year they released them as a collection. And while I've never been a big fan of Christmas music, there are a few songs -- like "Puddleglum", a depressing look at last minute shopping -- that I can get behind. There was also a new song thrown in, a Ben-fronted bass driven slow jam called "Okay Okay Okay", that was quite an interesting departure for the band.
Other highlights included "Love is Art/Sleep Through Fire", one of my favourites of theirs that is puzzlingly relegated to an EP, "Black Day in December" (the weekend marked the 6th anniversary of the Stanley Park windstorm that the song is about) and of course, the insanely infectious "Camilo (The Magician)". They wrapped up the main set with "Goodnight Moon", starting with Tyler sweetly strumming his ukulele then exploding into sheer joy.
And of course they were back for an encore, first Ben and Spencer came out for "Weight of the Season" before the exuberant "Emerald Lake, AB", and they wrapped up the whole night by puling Rococode on stage, and with Jacelyn at the piano, leading a sing along to "Christmas Time is Here", the lyrics up on the screen for people to sing loud, for all to hear.

Said the Whale is always a fun band to watch live; the interaction between the band -- especially Ben and Tyler -- shows just how much the band enjoys playing, and how appreciative they are to their Vancouver fans. And that energy pours out of them

The Bones of Winter, Wanting Like Veruca, This City's a Mess, Love is Art/Sleep Through Fire, Black Day in December, [mystery song]*, The Light is You, The Reason, Out on the Shield, Puddleglum, Big Sky MT, Lines, Okay Okay Okay, Howe Sounds, Loveless, 24 Days of Xmas, Camilo (The Magician), The Gift of a Black Heart, Goodnight Moon.
[encore] The Weight of the Season, Emerald Lake AB, Christmas Time is Here. 

*possibly another Christmas song I didn't catch the name of.