On an evening where the opener would garner more attention than the headliner, the Railway Club seemed relatively uninterested in the upcoming events. The red motif of draped sheets and luminescent bulbs cast the dying light of the windows away, and marked the stage with a glowing ember. The lackluster audience helped little to stoke that ember, and it would be up to the performers to keep the flame alight.
Although they had traveled across the country to be here, the Wind Up Radio Sessions headlining bill would fall short in popular opinion to that of opener Jasper Sloan Yip. Not only a talented guitar player, but also a gifted vocalist, Yip’s recent live absence, predicated by his current work on new material, has evidently left his committed following clamouring for his next performance.
Granting the audience what they were waiting for, Yip and his band started off strong with a new song titled “I Don’t Know What to Say to You About Me.” Yip’s charm, bordering on the overzealous, marks him as a competent frontman with the ability to work the gallery. But despite his personal charisma and tuneful, Yip’s backing band is as crucial to the music as he is. The next song, “Today,” had pumping bass drum and beautifully placed cello, intertwined with Yip’s soothing voice to complement his songwriting. While his unaccompanied bout “Lie to Me” fell short of the solitary captivation he had intended, it became clear that what makes his sound so approachable is not merely his artistry, but the aggregation of instrumentation on stage.
The end of Yip’s set left only a portion of the audience behind, so the Wind Up Radio Sessions had a much less boisterous audience to handle. Despite the lack of fanfare, the Montreal group proved to be anything but disappointing, and eased the room into tranquility. At times reminiscent of local legends Spirit of the West, it is hard to imagine such a folk-induced sound emanating from the trendy streets of Montreal and not our very own in Vancouver. Performing their new album, Bird Eyes, the multi-instrumental arrangement of each member proved the group’s understanding of the music they conducted. Lead singer Dan Kiely, on both guitar and drums alongside brother Marc (guitar), showed more than just a duel skill set: he accompanied and controlled the band.
And with Matt Lazenby switching from bass to guitar to tom drum, and Dave Crosbie from guitar to slide, it was crucial for all four members to maintain meticulous synchronicity. Playing the first song, “Little Bird,” off the new album, one could grasp all this and more. The power emitted through such a gentle song was palpable, and the down-to-earth nature of their folk roots created nostalgia that is not necessarily a part of one’s own past. When the unexpectedly rock-driven “Nairobi” roused the audience to attention, they proved their musical versatility. Although the Wind Up Radio Sessions celebrity has not traveled west, their sound and passion imparted a celestial feeling that suggested they have gone unnoticed in a city they could very well have captivated.
As opener The Never Surprise concluded the show, having been asked to perform last, the crowd had all but completely disengaged, and the stage’s ember faded black.