Do you own a black button-up shirt? How about a yellow armband? Are you over the age of thirty and know how to play a guitar? If you said yes to all of those things, you are in prime condition to join Wildlife. The Toronto-based band stormed the Commodore on April 6. Four of the five members shredded their way up and down the front of the stage while the drummer sat in the shadows and hammered forth a catchy beat.
As an opener for a grassy-field-esque band from down under, Wildlife were pretty intense. They rocked the stage in their copy-and-paste uniforms, sang some songs about some stuff (the lyrics were unintelligible, but the frequent “oohs” and “aahs” were pleasant), got us curious, gathered a crowd, then proceeded to get that crowd bumping and jumping.
They were loud, they were energetic, and they did exactly what an opening band is supposed to do: get the audience amped for the headliners.
Whether it was Wildlife that dragged everyone to the dance floor or simply the anticipation for the Aussie headliners, I’ll never know, but the venue was dropped into a vat of silent thrill as the lights dropped, the music came on… and Boy & Bear did not.
It was at this moment that a friend who had seen Boy & Bear on their home turf a couple of years back commented on their lack of stage presence.
Thinking he was kidding about the temporary lack of boys or bears on the stage, I brushed it off as a hilarious joke, but while the band may have the biggest hearts, the deepest harmonies, and an electric organ as warm and hearty as your mother’s chili, they were pretty unengaging.
As a result, the Vancouver crowd took the band’s lack of engagement into its own hands – literally. Fans washed over the front of the stage with reaching fingertips to clasp onto whatever they could as lead guitarist Dave Hosking passed by, eventually prompting him to comment on Vancouver’s “grabbiness.” Whether he was flattered or offended, aside from a heart-warming giggle, he didn’t have much else to say on the subject.
Drummer Tim Hart, however, shared a few fun facts about Vancouver, including some shy birthday wishes towards our fine city, which enthralled the enthusiastic crowd even more.
Honestly, Boy & Bear played one of the tightest sets I had ever seen. An awful lot of thought went into that set list, which consisted of a careful mix of old and new material and ended with a bonus performance (they don’t believe in encores) of “Feeding Line”. What Boy & Bear lacked in stage presence, they made up for in sheer professionalism and easygoing attitudes. And most importantly, they absolutely rocked it.