Mt. Joy and Wilderado at Imperial Vancouver, 3/24/19
A plethora of jean jackets, big hats, and trendy button-ups shirts took over the Imperial Theatre Sunday night for the highly anticipated Mt. Joy show. The band, along with openers Wilderado, exceeded expectations with their clean and authentic vocals, rolling riffs and socially-conscious lyricism.
The nostalgic sounds captured listeners in the moment, commanding their attention and inducing a feeling of freedom — leaving the crowd with big smiles on their faces by the end of the night.
Oklahoma rockers, Wilderado, kicked the show off with dreamy harmonies from the quartet, and memorable singalongs from older hits like “Morning Light” and “Rubble To Rubble” off their 2017 album titled Latigo. Even if you weren’t familiar with Wilderado, there was a high chance you’d heard at least one there easy listening melodies on a Spotify indie playlist.
The night progressed and the band delved into their newest album, Favors, which showcased more mature and rockier sound. The 2018 project was produced by Phil Ek, who has previously worked with The Shins, Fleet Foxes, and Band of Horses, among other indie/rock sensations — the connection was apparent.
As Wilderado’s set came to an end, lead singer and guitarist Max Rainer gave his thanks, and warned the crowd that “Mt. Joy’s artistry was about to blow them away.”
Growing numbers inside the Imperial signalled that the headliners were soon to take the stage, which then resembled the inside of a music store: nine guitars, a set of drums, a bass, a keyboard and a ukulele crowded the small platform. Tensions were building during the lengthy intermission and the lively atmosphere began getting louder.
The lights dimmed, and suddenly the five-piece indie rock band were front and centre ,serenading a swaying Vancouver crowd to the likes of “Younger Days” off their their 2018 self-titled album, Mt. Joy.
Though initial excitement was soon masked by a series of difficulties involving Sam Cooper’s guitar, the crowd easily sympathized with Cooper after a series of technical, jaw dropping guitar solos.
“Astrovan,” the band’s breakout single from 2016, was an early crowd favourite. With it’s catchy chorus, groovy guitar picking, and uplifting feel, the entire venue sang the key words out loud: “Jesus has an Astrovan.”
Mt. Joy’s feel good vibes were perfectly contrasted by the moody feels of the more thought-provoking songs like “Sheep,” which was written after the 2015 riots in Baltimore, Maryland that took place after Freddie Gray died in police custody. The band performed “Sheep” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! earlier this year.
Additionally, emotionally-charged songs like “I’m Your Wreck” and “Silver Lining” had the crowd in awe. Before playing the band’s latest hit, “Silver Lining,” lead singer Matt Quinn explained that the song was written about his proximity to drug abuse while growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“I watched too many people pass away at a young age. We all needed a silver lining,” Quinn told the crowd.
His passion brought the lyrics to life. The feeling of intention and purpose in Quinn’s craft was complimented by his smooth vocals, and impressive falsettos.
After closing the set with a new age, bluesy rendition of Bill Withers “Aint No Sunshine” that highlighted the keyboard skills of Jackie Miclau, the Vancouver crowd called Mt. Joy back to the stage for an encore.
They ended the night on a high, performing “Cardinal” and leaving the crowd with a mission: to go get stoned and do snow angels.