Three amazing local bands were playing at FIVESIXTY on Friday night so I headed there for the early show. Facts were up first led by Sean Bletcher whose distinctive retro voice helps to give some edge to their electro pop-rock vibe. You could tell the boys were having an awesome time, Bayntun (keys) and MacDonald (bass) hardly stayed put as they grooved to their catchy tunes and Poulin’s drums gave a solid throbbing backbone to their music. It’s easy to see why they have quickly gained in popularity when you hear hits like “Retro Ocean” from their album Like a Living Being; it’s pop-y, fun and very danceable – a definite crowd-pleaser. Facts have an infectious energy on stage and that night they even let a lady join their boy-band: Kristy-Lee Audette accompanied the guys with a variety of instruments, but her trumpet work is a definite highlight to the music, especially in spacey tunes like “C-C-C-cold”.
The boys currently have an awesome campaign on their website which has them sweatin’ for the arts, raising money so that kids have access to the amazing art programs provided by the Arts Umbrella. A fantastic local band that also gives back to the community – well that’s a class act all the way, and it shows they deserve all the praise that’s been coming their way of late.
From there, The Ruffled Feathers took over the stage. Gina Loes (vocals, guitar, and ukulele), Andrew Lee (horn section, vocals) and Charley Wu (piano, guitar, mandolin, and accordion), started the group but were feeling a little light in the rhythm section so when Sam Mackinnon (sticks, stones, and shakers) and Matty Jeronimo (bass) were bequeathed to them from another band, they knew they had struck gold.
The diversity of the instruments they play helps to create a very unique aged rock sound and I don’t mean aged like 50s or 60s (which it has too) but they also manage to encompass an air of the 1800s. The use of instruments like mandolin, accordion, and trumpet along with Loes’ soft songbird voice help to give it this quality. For me, it’s the kind of music that you could expect to hear coming from a scratchy phonograph.
The group’s album Oracles is an eclectic mix of pop, classical, bluegrass, and rock. They are fantastic to hear live because of the rich fullness of their music and there’s something down-home country about their tunes but don’t get me wrong it’s not country, I just get this sense of being transported to a previous time and place when I hear them. The Ruffled Feathers played a vigorous set of toe-tapping tracks that ended all too quickly.
Finally it was time for Yes Nice! One of the first times I ever saw Yes Nice was at a small-time gig in a bookstore. In fact, at the time, I believe it was just Nathaniel Wong (vocals, guitar, strings) and Scott McKellar (vocals, bass) so it was especially great to be able to see how far a talented group has come. Their sound is filled out by Peter Hendrickson (drums), Darren Frank (vocals, guitar) and Jillian McKellar (keys, vocals).
Yes Nice incorporates a multitude of instruments which allows their music to embody so many differing sentiments. The piano work is quite beautiful and creates an air of delicacy in many of the tracks. At times the combination of the vocals and guitar riffs with ethereal intervals are even Beatles-esque. Often excelling in the ballad arena, it was great to hear “Horses”, one of my (and the crowd’s) favourites – super upbeat with thriving drums, it had me on my feet in seconds. We even got to hear some new songs from their soon to be released album Warm Gun, a long awaited follow-up to the excellent Blindfolded.
After the show I spoke briefly with McKellar and he mentioned that Yes Nice had been touring out East recently and it was kind of like going back in time to those smaller gigs. That’s the trouble living in such a huge country – it can sometimes be like living in completely different worlds East to West. But their success here is undeniable; the group has been awarded many grants and prizes over the years and have participated in some huge events like the Peak Performance Project, New Music West and just this past weekend, they and Facts were partying it up at LIVE at Squamish.
All in all the night seemed to fly by with quick, lively sets from all three groups. The crowd had a blast and how could we not with a house full of talented musicians doing what they love and playing their hearts out. Facts, The Ruffled Feathers and Yes Nice are all part of our thriving local scene, so don’t miss out. Get yourself to their shows!