An Unforgettable Night With The Wooden Sky

The Wooden Sky @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010

Date of show: November 6, 2010

“This is quite alright,” Gavin Gardiner (vocals, guitar) said as he observed the hometown crowd at a sold out Lee’s Palace. For the record, it was much better than alright. The crowd was full of energy, eyes lit up and eager, hanging onto every lyric. Joining Gardiner in The Wooden Sky are Andrew Wyatt (bass, vocals), Simon Walker (keys, guitar, vocals), and Andrew Kekewich (drums). Edwin Huizinga also joined them on violin. Their breed of folk-rock is full of passion and warmth, which makes for a live set that comes across as honest and heartfelt.

The Wooden Sky kicked off their set with “When Lost at Sea” and then powered through a set leaning heavily towards the Polaris Prize long-listed If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone. They also played a couple new tunes, “Angelina” and “Lay Your Body Down,” which was a real treat. They even did a cover of “American Girl,” which had the crowd tapping their feet and singing along. For their last song of the set, “Something Hiding For Us in the Night,” they enlisted help from their friends in Yukon Blonde and These United States, which was like a beautiful drum circle and even led to a bit of a Yukon Blonde crowd surf. Looking onto that stage with all those talented fellas, I couldn’t help but think that bills this perfect are rare and I consider myself lucky to have been able to witness such an amazing show.

Screams brought out the guys for an encore and as they stepped out onto the stage again, Gardiner said, “Aw shit, thank you guys so much!” Years ago I heard a song called “North Dakota” and I fell in love with a band called The Wooden Sky. This was their encore and, as I observed the crowd, it appeared this was a song that brought many others to love The Wooden Sky. With handclaps and the crowd singing along, this was an amazing way to end the show.

However, the night was not over and by far the best part of the show did not even take place in the venue. Considering how wonderful the set was, this is saying a lot. Out in the alley behind Lee’s Palace, fans and friends alike surrounded the boys in The Wooden Sky while they acoustically performed “Oh My God (It Still Means A Lot to Me)” and “Oslo”. Sparklers were up in the air and many were singing along, yet Gardiner’s voice was audible. As they started their third and final song, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” Gardiner and the guys led the crowd out of the alley and into the street with everyone singing along. There, in the middle of Bloor Street, everyone swayed and sang along with traffic stopped on either side. It was a shining moment, the atmosphere carefree and electric. It really exemplified the power of music in what it does to unite people. It doesn’t really get much better than this and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

After two months on tour, Toronto welcomed home The Wooden Sky, but the guys reciprocated to make this hometown show one for the books. To The Wooden Sky we owe you shots… but that won't come close to repaying you for the magic you created in the city on Saturday night.

The Wooden Sky @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010 The Wooden Sky @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010
The Wooden Sky @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010 The Wooden Sky @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010
The Wooden Sky @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010

Yukon Blonde

Yukon Blonde is a band that could have easily been the headliner for this show, based on their amazing reviews of their self-titled full-length debut under the moniker Yukon Blonde (formerly Alphababy), which was also Polaris Prize long-listed. Yukon Blonde is a 3-piece made up of Jeffrey Innes (vocals, guitar, keys), Brandon Scott (guitar, vocals), and Graham Jones (drums, vocals). Joining them on bass for this tour was Jason Haberman of The Paint Movement. Together these guys create music that is so reminiscent of 60s classic rock and is really highlighted by their 3-part harmonies, infectious hooks and heart-felt energy.

They had quite the crowd up front and I could hear dozens of voices singing along. It was a really fantastic hearing the guys sing favourites like “Wind Blows” and “Brides Song” along with the crowd (with the added addition of a tambourine somewhere behind me!). Yukon Blonde also played a new song inviting the crowd to slow dance. A particular highlight was singing “Happy Birthday” to Innes’ brother Nigel, which was actually filmed. This was actually the last night of their tour with The Wooden Sky and the guys were genuinely thankful for their time and brought them on stage.

As I said, Yukon Blonde could have easily been the headliner, given they brought in quite the draw to this sold out show. Their fantastic performance may have been overshadowed by The Wooden Sky’s great set and even better encore, but one thing was made completely clear that night – Yukon Blonde is still riding a wave of rave reviews and winning fans over at every show. I highly recommend you catch them live… and soon!

Yukon Blonde @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010 Yukon Blonde @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010
Yukon Blonde @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010 Yukon Blonde @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010

These United States

These United States, a band partly from Kentucky and partly from Washington D.C., kicked off the night and they really surprised me. I came into the show knowing next to nothing about this band and I was caught off guard by frontman Jesse Elliott’s raw vocals, tinged with a little southern twang. The rest of These United States is comprised of J. Tom Hnatow (guitar, pedal steel), Robby Cosenza (drums, vocals), Justin Craig (guitar, keys), and Colin Kellogg (bass, vocals). Their sound is danceable breed of rock and roll, folk, and alt-country. The fellas bring some great harmonies and Elliott is so animated and really charismatic bringing delightful stage banter. As he hushed the crowd during “Honor Amongst Thieves” he ended up making himself laugh! He requested the lights be turned down so people could dance for a slower number and suggested, “Grab someone you love or might potentially love and spin them around.”

The crowd received These United States well, and Elliott indicated how welcome they felt when he said, “It was so cold; now it’s so warm.” At the end of their set Cosenza asked, “If you have a place to sleep…” followed by Elliott saying, “Sounds like a joke, but it’s true.” Well guys, hope you found a place to stay and that Toronto was as kind to you as you were to us. Check out their most recent album, What Lasts, which was released in July and hopefully these guys make the trek north to Canada again soon.

These United States @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010 These United States @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010
These United States @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010 These United States @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010
These United States @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010 These United States @Lee's Palace, 11.06.2010

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Categories: Live Music


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