As this year’s Westward Festival wrapped up on Sunday, there was one more show I was eagerly anticipating: We Are The City headlining the Vogue Theatre. Especially since the band is just ahead of a brand new album (or two) and were promising to tease some new songs.
Unfortunately, I was running late, and got to the Vogue literally just as The Tourist Company was finishing their last song. But the second opener of the evening was Common Deer, who I had heard a few songs from on CBC Radio 3, and had been meaning to check out more from.
With vocals split between keyboardist Sheila Hart-Owens and Graham McLaughlin, who switched between guitar and violin throughout the set, their orchestral pop rang through the theatre. Songs ranged from the slower and haunting “Damages”, to the soaring and anthemic “Wait!”, and the rapid-fire vocals on “Mistakes”. They ended with “Fuckboi”, introduced as a song about, well, I think you can figure it out. The band had a good stage presence too, combined with the catchy songs made for a strong opener, and I am interested to see more from them in the future.
Not long after that, the whole stage went dark, before a single fluorescent tube of light flickered on, Cayne McKenzie holding it over his head for a creepy sounding intro song -- and a little creepy looking, with the light illuminating just his arms + head -- before he was joined the rest of We Are The City, by Andrew Huculiak and David Menzel as they burst into the gorgeous “Baptism”.
They ran through some old favourites, like “King David”, Cayne letting the crowd sing the chorus. “All My Friends” transitioned into “Happy New Year”, and that in turn segued seamlessly into Andy taking over vocals on “Dark/Warm Air”, going right into the audience before getting back on the drums for the song’s bone-rattling finish.
Among the new songs the trio played were the aptly-titled slowburner “Mid-Tempo Drama”, a gorgeous piano-driven song that I believe is called “Dark Horizon” and immediately became my new favourite WATC Song, and an absolute banger “Killer B-Side Music”, which saw the band at their most raw and explosive.
They played right up to the curfew, finishing off with the first single from the upcoming album, “When I Dream, I Dream of You”, not bothering with the whole faux-encore deal, for a fantastic ending that had the audience clamouring for more (Andy had to return to the stage to explain that had to be it, and we all had to get going to make room for the late show that evening).
I’ve seen We Are The City play live many times, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen them as comfortable and effortless on stage as they were this night; Cayne’s dancing flourishes when not at the keyboard, Andy playing drums so hard he was frequently standing up, and even needed to swap out his stool, and David front and centre ripping on guitar. Even when chatting with the crowd, they were as much joking to each other as talking to the audience.
Their new album, At Night, is coming out in a couple weeks -- plus they’ve even hinted at a second new album before the end of the year -- and based on what I heard last night, I couldn’t be more excited to hear more.