Busty and the Bass gets a sold-out Imperial grooving

Busty and the Bass at the Imperial, 3/7/18

Busty and the Bass are brassy — literally. Trumpet player Scott Bevins greeted the audience at Vancouver’s sold-out Imperial venue on Wednesday (Feb. 7) with a blistering solo that set the energy level for the rest of the night.

Graduates of McGill University’s music program, the eight band members have always been sharp and engaging players. But Wednesday night transcended the earliest shows. After a solid year of touring throughout North America and a stint in Europe, the band’s confidence shines. It’s clear that Busty and the Bass have come into their own as performers. There’s a palpable sense that they’re on the verge of leaping into new dimensions and audiences.

The crowd was well warmed up by Pierre Kwenders’ self-described Congolese Trap, a fusion of singing and rapping in English, French, and the Bantu languages Lingala and Tshiluba. Montreal-based Kwenders is a force in his own right, as a 2015 Juno nominee and Polaris Prize long-list nominee.

Kwenders was followed by Schwey, a funky hip hop and R&B infused five-piece. While they’re not as widely known as Kwenders, Schwey hails from Vancouver. The band and the hometown crowd fed on each other’s energy. They were infectiously playful and devoted to getting people moving on the dance floor. All three acts share that devotion to both stellar musicianship and instrumentation, and also to unabashed grooviness.

By the time Scott Bevins raised his trumpet to blast Busty onto the stage, the crowd was buzzing. With members from nine different North American cities, Busty has cultivated loyal fans. They had only played a song or two before crowd surfers launched across the tightly-packed space.

Vocalists Nick Ferraro and Evan Crofton — who performs under the moniker Alistair Blu — traded lyrics with each other seamlessly. It’s a rapport the whole band has developed over seven years playing as a collective and cutting their teeth on the road.

Bolstered by the release of their first full-length album Uncommon Good last September, Busty and the Bass have a growing repertoire of crowd favourites to draw from. Last night’s highs included the driving Uncommon Good track “Memories and Melodies,” and the smoother “Common Ground.”

Busty classic “The Real” surpassed a million streams on Spotify last December. Along with “Models,” another track from their 2015 release GLAM, the old favourites had the crowd belting out choruses. But it wasn’t until the last song that the set transformed into a real singalong. Busty has been playing Macy Gray’s “I Try” for years. They’ve put their own spin on the song, and it brought the night to a close like a warm, nostalgic hug.

With their spring tour wrapped up, the Busty and the Bass will get a well-deserved break. But they won’t put their instruments down for long. When Vancouver Weekly caught up with the Ferraro and Crofton last month, they hinted at exciting new collaborations and music to come.