There was no trickling in for Said The Whale’s show on May 3 at the Vogue Theatre. By the time Oh No! Yoko took to the stage around 8:30 p.m., the seats and floor of the Vogue were right packed. This being an all-ages show, with the median age being around 19, there was somewhat of a school assembly feel to the whole thing. The Yoko faithful – of which there are apparently quite a few – shrieked and bounced while the four tousle-haired boys delivered their quick, frantic power pop. I’m guessing a lot of exclamations of “I love you [band member’s name]!” and “Marry me!” were being thrown around in the hormone pit.
While those looking for some boy candy got their fill with Oh No! Yoko, those avid for some feminine charm got an eyeful with the sexy six-piece Chains Of Love. The lead singer wanted to “see some crowd-surfing and making out” and wanted us all to “get really crazy for this one”. Like… really crazy. Well, it didn’t happen. Perhaps the group’s new spin on old time rock and roll and rockabilly just didn’t push the right buttons with the boppers. Regardless of the reception, Chains of Love delivered a tight set of tunes, including a surf-y “Breaking My Heart”, some rock doo-wop, and even a smidge of ska. The four stunning ladies in the band seem like they had escaped from Robert Palmer’s “Addicted To Love” video, picked up some instruments and started their own thing. But Chains of Love, including the two dudes (why not?), did a whole lot more than just look pretty on Thursday. Overall – great set, wrong crowd.
Said The Whale, back from weeks of touring Canada since March 27 (New Brunswick), kicked things off with a slow fade-in to “Heavy Ceiling”. The chorus came around (still trying to figure out what ‘80s tune it reminds me of… help me out…) and quickly got the whole floor bouncing. Interrupting raucous applause from the small legion at the Vogue, Said The Whale quickly moved on with “This City’s A Mess” and “Black Day In December”, which Ben Worcester affectionately dedicated to his sister and the 10,000 felled trees of Stanley Park. “Out on the Shield”, “The Reason”, “O Alexandra” – whatever the song, it didn’t matter, fans knew the songs and it showed. I don’t think Said The Whale could have hoped for a better, more enthusiastic homecoming than what they got on Thursday.
Ben and Tyler Bancroft appropriately prefaced “We Are 1980” with some words on our society’s addiction to technology, which Tyler underlined by asking the crowd to pull out their phones and show their screens. While I don’t share this fear of the future nor do I buy into the man vs. computer “thing”, it was interesting to consider that most people in attendance don’t remember a pre-internet age. Worcester acknowledged the crowd love (“I can’t stop smiling and my face is starting to hurt,”) before introducing “Big Sky, MT” – in response to Ben’s questions about how things get their name; his grandfather explained, “beautiful things earn beautiful names”. The following performance was fitting, reminiscent of sweeping landscapes of plains, mountains, and the infinite Canadian horizon.
Said The Whale played for nearly two hours, which is remarkable in itself. What’s even more impressive is that a lot of the people there would have stayed all night. The three-person harmonies of “Jesse, AR” and the high-on-life vibes of “Lucky” and “Emerald Lake, AB” gave fans exactly what they were looking for. The Vogue practically caught fire when they played “Camilo (The Magician)” The Oh No! Yoko boys joined Said The Whale on stage for a rowdy rendition of “Goodnight Moon”, the final song of the night.
“What did the whale say?” a cheeky audience member asked at one point.
“I thought we grew up together…” said Tyler. Or, said the whale. I’ll leave it up to you.
Said The Whale kicks off their UK tour May 9 in London.