The Casbah 306 King Street West
After handing in my last paper of the Winter term, I needed a bit of a breather from academia. With plenty of people to visit and things to do, I went back home to the Hammer to take a week off. Although my days were still filled with research, my nights were reserved for some good ol’ Hamilton socializing. And, with Kristin’s schedule chalk full of IHHT stops, I got the chance to do a few things Tour-style.
Tonight, I was joining her to check out some new-to-me music at The Casbah. The prospect of a Stills/Broken Social Scene offshoot (Eight and a Half) is what convinced me to come. To be honest, though, I wasn’t anticipating to be all that interested in the music itself. I was expecting electronica. I was expecting a bunch of technical noises that, although respectable music with a devoted fanbase, is not particularly my taste. Luckily, I was in for a surprise. This music was unexpected. It was impressive. And it has opened up a new chapter in the “music Carly listens to” songbook.
Illitry started things off. Talking to Troy after the show, he explained how Illitry was created when Chester’s mom suggested that Troy should jam with him sometime. Thus, Illitry is two boys from Durham who are in the process of grabbing a bassist and a drummer to round out the band. Kristin and Avi saw them play at the Rich Aucoin show, of which I expected “a mystical, airy quality” to translate into something of no interest to me. Watching them play their music and being so technically involved as to fix their inconsistencies as they played, though, was like watching musical craftsmen at work. They were not playing music, but building something from the ground up. Sounding a bit like Muse with their bassist playing alongside, their entire sound is a full one that they are happy to share with whoever will listen. Check out “Roadtrip” and these boys live ASAP.
Once they finished, The Rest took over the stage. Before they even began playing their set, it sounded like an orchestra tuning up in the pit. It prepared the audience for the really talented players who were taking the stage. This is a large band of seven people. Seven. Indeed, they filled out that Casbah stage. They neither crowded the space nor the sound, though. Each one added something special to the music as a whole that it is impossible to picture The Rest without any of its players. They are all key. Every guitarist adds something to the overall sound, every string is impeccably placed, and a solid backbeat guides every song. Adam Bentley’s voice is a cross between Steve Bays, Win Butler, and Brendan Canning that takes the Whoa-Ohs from Hot Hot Heat, the soul of Arcade Fire, and the pop-rock sensibilities of Broken Social Scene to make The Rest the incredible hometown talent to watch.
Eight and a Half brought the night to a close. Dave Hamelin walked up on stage with his hood over his head as Justin Peroff and Liam O’Neil got themselves sorted on stage. As a fan of both The Stills and Broken Social Scene, I at least knew that the men on stage would be musically interesting. Indeed, they play incredibly fluidly. They flowed so well together that, even though I had never heard their music before, I knew where each song was going. It made sense to me, as a virgin listener, every time they played a sound. Each and every note belongs to each and every song, just as they arranged it. The trio is a successful meeting of some really talented musicians that will find a really interesting fanbase in Southern Ontario and beyond.
Ultimately, this was a night that I thought would be easily defined by my expectations. I thought that I would be able to write my blog post based on what I anticipated that I would see. Instead, it was a night that broadened my music scope more than ever before. It widened the net that I cast when checking out new Hamilton talent. And, really, isn’t that what we all want from a Hamilton night out?