I had no idea what to expect when I headed to the Backstage Lounge last Friday night for an evening of live music and Long Island Iced Teas. I had little to no previous exposure to the performers lined up. I did the quick Google and YouTube searches before attending just to see if their styles and genres were something I might enjoy, but I didn’t dig any deeper than a couple of songs for each artist and band. I came in a curious foreigner, but left, an ecstatic fan, with three brand new favourites: Chersea, Sorry Buttons, and Téa Petrovic. I was blown away by the distinct and powerful vocals and all of the fierce female talent of the night.
Chersea opened up the show by herself: a funky, alternative one-woman band. As a multi-talented musician and loop artist, Chersea used everything from trumpet, tambourine, keyboard, bass, drums, shaker, and a percussion instrument that resembled a metal coffee thermos. She incorporated snapping and clapping and clicking and clucking, and added layer upon layer of angelic vocal harmonies. The crowd was completely captivated by her quirky stage presence and intensity, and by the detail and complexity of her music coming to life on the stage. From her fingers to her toes, her singing to her clothes, her performance was unforgettable; her voice, beautifully distinct, and her passion, both alluring and contagious.
Chersea was definitely a hard act to follow, but Sorry Buttons took on the challenge and managed to get the crowd up on their feet and dancing within the first few songs. As an energetic and bubbly six-piece band, Sorry Buttons’ sound and vibe were completely different than Chersea’s but just as engaging. Sorry Buttons’ music feels young and fun and carefree, and they perform remarkably well together. They interacted with each other on stage; they sounded polished; and they looked absolutely adorable with giant colourful bows and expressive smiles. They had a flashing cupcake as part of their set, and later, they surprised the entire audience by offering real chocolate cupcakes and ice cream right before their last song which, quite fittingly, repeated the line “Give that girl some ice cream”. The violin and flute added beautiful depth to each song, and the lead singer was delightfully charismatic on stage, so much so that Téa Petrovic would later refer to her as “a human cupcake”.
Due to technical difficulties and late starts all around, it was nearly midnight by the time the feature of the night, Téa and her band hit the stage, but their performance was well worth the wait. Téa rocked a t-shirt that read “Bitch, don’t kill my vibe”, but as soon as she started performing, the shirt quickly became ironic. It was obvious to me that the seductive and soulful vibe Téa creates with her powerful vocals and intriguing melodies is truly timeless and indestructible. It’s the kind of vibe I couldn’t possibly describe adequately because it is born from the kind of inspired performance you have to see live to believe.
Her backup singers both had unique and complementary voices, echoing and harmonizing with perfect pitch. Téa herself has the most incredible, strong, textured vocals – she literally gave me the chills. Me and everybody else! The crowd at the Backstage Lounge went crazy for Téa. Everyone was cheering and dancing and singing along. Even those of us who did not know Téa’s music before the show had picked up a chorus or two along the way. When I left at the end of the night, I found myself humming her song “Millionaires” all the way home. I am amazed by the catchiness of her melodies and the intricate stories that unfold in all of her songs. The combination of Téa Petrovic, Chersea, Sorry Buttons and, of course, the complimentary cupcakes, made for a hell of a show.