A lot of times the powers that be at the Toque Sessions try to bring something different to the shows, and this was perhaps the most unique one I have seen so far.
Said the Whale bass player Nathan Shaw -- who also makes electronic beats under the name Elkali -- remixed nine of the songs from their most recent album hawaiii, turning their indie-pop jams into electronic soundscapes, and the band performed them live.
Flanked by two screens alternately showing CBC stock footage of Vancouver and soundwaves of the live music, the band took the stage with no guitars, no drums; just keyboards and synth, with Nathan in the middle of it all, orchestrating the whole thing from his laptop and sampler.
Admittedly, I am not always a fan of electronic music, but after seeing the Whales several times live over the years, I was definitely intrigued by this one-time event.
With a variety of electro-sounds, from house and trance, to club bangers, to dubsteppy bass drops, tracks flowed into one another for a seamless half-hour set. "On The Ropes" had a dreamy quality, and could have been the music for an underwater Mario level; "Resolutions" sounded closest to its hawaiiian counterpart to start, but soon morphed into twitchy vocal samples; "Oh K, Okay" was filled with a stuttering drum beat; and probably the most different of the songs, "I Love You" ended the set, starting a little ethereal before ending with more of a dubstep beat.
A lot of musicians say stripping down their songs down to an acoustic version is a good exercise, but I think the same thing could be said for remixing and performing them in this fashion. It was a completely different take on the songs, and even talking to a couple band members after the show, they said they had an absolute blast figuring it out.
So while I'm not sure this is something I would want to see Said the Whale do more than once, it was a really cool show and an interesting experiment.
More Than This, On The Ropes, Resolutions, Safe To Say, Mother, Oh K Okay, I Could Smoke, The Weight of the Season, I Love You.