Christopher Owens in the Flesh

Photo by Annie Thornton

It was beautiful to be able to forget where I was when I saw Christopher Owens & Co. perform this past Wednesday night. From what I can recall, I would like to think that those who were set beside me felt something similar.

The Biltmore was its usual moody self, lit like a dive bar. Except the unruly types you could imagine existing there were character descriptions of possibly the WASPiest folks in Vancouver. With the ceiling lights changing above the stage, in came openers the Tyde with a sound straight out of a 1970s beach party. The California-based group performed a healthy set of tracks that got the ball rolling. I enjoyed what they put out, but I’m not entirely sure if they were the right precursor to the main event.

During the intermission I had a better sense of the room. The stage was a crowded mess of instruments, speakers, and cords. Everyone was excited and overtly aware of the space they were in, which made for some rather funny people-watching. I’m sure I was just as ridiculous as them, resting in a happy suspense until the lights dimmed.

A couple of days prior to the show I interviewed Christopher on his latest release, A New Testament. As the Tyde played, he leaned against a table, milking a drink. His demeanour felt familiar to me as he watched them play, but I let him be until after the show.

Before I go any further, I must mention the bizarre intro track that was used. I’m not really sure what to make of it. The music started off soft and then progressed until the entire room became an orchestral climate. It was chilling and effective; however, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking the track could easily have scored a scene from Lord of the Rings. Either way, it was majestic, which I suppose was the point.

The place cooled down when Christopher strummed the first few chords to “My Ma”. It was a pretty solid introduction to the band. The song spoke volumes in terms of what we could all expect from the show. The backup singers left me rubbing my jaw. Their voices set me in a happy paralysis as they swayed back and forth on stage. Likewise, the rest of the band was on point.

The comparison between live music and wearing a set of headphones is immense. At a show, you are in contact with the real thing: the epicentre of that crazy noise you loved enough to come out and see. The live aspect is the thrill an album only taunts you with. Body language is what you go to see when you go to a place like the Biltmore. The performers can emote the kinds of nuances that are impossible to achieve while behind the face of a record.

My friends and I were able to poke our heads into the side room where some of the band members and Chris were after the gig. All of them were welcoming and happy to speak with us. In the flesh, we are all readable, and being able to put a face to the name was a cool way to end the night.