Chocolates, cigarettes and sibling magic at the Vogue

Angus and Julia Stone at the Vogue Theatre, 11/28/17

Angus and Julia Stone inspired 1,280 people at their sold-out Live Nation show this past Tuesday (Nov. 28) at the Vogue Theatre. The Australian brother and sister’s message for their SNOW tour was simple: we all belong here. 

The roman Goddess Diana stood atop the Vogue sign, greeting its visitors to paradise. The theatre was not yet saturated with folk music lovers, but those inside were admiring the curved designs on its ceilings, which resembled ocean waves drifting towards the stage.

Lukas Sital-Singh stood in the middle of it and addressed the frostbitten crowd, “I’ll warm you up with depressing songs.” Laughs ensued, but eyes watered. In the pink morning glow, his guitar wept about heartbreak during “Nothing Stays the Same” from his Tornado EP. The lyrics themselves encouraged the audience to cry, describing how pain, blood, and oxygen bonds us all, no matter where we live or how wealthy we are. The British songwriter’s soft, raw voice matched his lyrics as he switched to keyboards for “Time is a Riddle” from his independent album with the same title. Likened to Bon Iver, the young man accomplished his goal: indie fans were launched into a state of forlorn reflection.

This atmosphere quickly changed when the intense horn of Julia’s trumpet resounded in the pitch black. An image of a rising sun above violet water materialized on the wooden walls, and purple spotlights outlined the duo. Her playful velvet floral dress and sparkly wedge heels were contrasted by Angus’s distressed grey sweater and vintage brown hat. Despite their distinct appearances, when they began singing to “Beaudelaire” from Snow. Their common musical aptitude was evident.

During “Make it Out Alive,” an abstract image of a deer composed entirely of entangled branches contributed to the eerie, psychedelic melody about revelling in death: “I don’t want to be buried in some salty soaked oak-wood box, sleeping underground. I want my ashes to be spread above the clouds.” This slow tune was contrasted by the upbeat “Chateau,” screams erupting as Julia and Angus strummed in unison while a girl in the background spun a kaleidoscopic diamond.

Despite their sometimes-somber musical content, the pair’s playful energy was contagious. When Angus messed up the lyrics to “Wherever You Are” from their self-titled album, Julia, in typical older-sister fashion, giggled at him instead of letting it go.

The band’s cumulative musical talents were highlighted during “Private Lawns” from their first EP Chocolates and Cigarettes, complete with a banjo solo by Joel Shearer, a harmonica solo by Angus, and, of course, a trumpet solo by Julia.

One touching moment was when Julia took the time to appreciate every single member and their simple contributions to the band. Keyboarder Jon Hanson painted for them, Joel scoped out potential restaurants, percussionist Daniel Farrugia made them coffee every morning, and James Gilligan had the extraordinary ability to simultaneously play synth guitar with his feet, bass guitar with his hands, and harmonize with the duo. She then expressed her utmost admiration for her 31-year-old brother as they exchanged a look of pure love and respect. During an interview in September, Julia mentioned that spending so much time together and sharing experiences had allowed them to develop an innate ability to read each other’s minds.

After these humbling introductions, they played “Snow” while three-dimensional flakes fell behind them, a sense of serenity flowing through the wooden walls. The entire crowed accompanied Angus with “Big Jet Plane” from Down The Way as he sang about leaving a girl he met at a festival behind. “Oh Vancouver, you guys are awesome! It smells good, too!”, the hippie laughed.

Due to their elated interactions with the audience, the Australian siblings instilled a sense of unity at a time in which hatred is rampant. They asked members to sing along to the chorus from “Your House, My House”, emphasizing the privilege of living in a country like Canada or Australia, safe from the turmoil plaguing the rest of the planet.

The show ended with an old favourite, “Yellow Brick Road” from Down The Way, conjuring images of a comforting road trip in California, except Angus playfully changed the word “California” to “Vancouver” as Vancouverites squealed in delight.

Even after the yellow lights faded and oxytocin’s effects wore off, Julia’s statement endured: “just for tonight even, we all belong together.”