Friday, June 20, 2008

The Return of Girl 1 feat. The Wooden Sky, The D'Urbervilles, and Leif Vollebekk

Although I have lived in the National Capital Region for almost four years now, last night marked my first-ever venture to the notorious Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec, located a mere 45 minutes from Ottawa. Even though I was upset to have missed out on what I think is one of the best music venues I have ever been to, with the outdoor patio looking out onto a beautiful lake and the Gatineau Hills and the inside atmosphere so inviting and entertaining as the owner’s pet pug runs between the legs of concert-goers and locals, the spectacular performances from Ottawa’s very own Leif Vollebekk, Guelph, ON’s The D’Urbervilles, and Toronto’s The Wooden Sky were enough to make me forget my initial disappointment.

Vollebekk took the stage as the majority of the crowd grabbed seats at candlelit tables with pitchers of local beer close at hand. A sense of awe could soon be felt as Vollebekk’s soothing voice, strikingly reminiscent of Patrick Watson, and his mesmerizing stage presence left the audience staring at the modest musician before them with complete admiration. Vollebekk played the first few songs with the help of his acoustic guitar, some beautiful finger picking, and occasionally his harmonica, switching to an electric guitar, the piano, and even the violin with much ease. Vollebekk also made fine usage of his looping pedal to layer the many instruments, creating the lovely music that accompanied his thoughtful lyrics. Vollebekk takes up little room on the stage, but the sound he creates is big enough to fill any room.

The D’Urbervilles were up next, and the quartet’s usual high-energy performance, though slow to appear, was very present by the end of their set. With their catchy hooks, driving percussion, and keyboard-playing that makes you want to get off your ass and start dancing, The D’Urbervilles easily entertained the crowd with songs off both their EP and their full-length, We Are The Hunters. By the end of the set, the band had left us pumped and ready for more rock, soon to come from The Wooden Sky. Props go out to D'Urbervilles lead singer John O’Regan for wearing a shirt commemorative of my conception (Spring Break ’86 – Ft. Lauderdale, FL).

The Wooden Sky, formerly known as Friday Morning’s Regret, produce a brand of what can be described as alt-country that makes most crowds take notice, and last night’s show was no exception. Lead vocalist Gavin Gardiner has both a strong stage presence and powerful lyrics, and having seen them many times over the past six years, it is evident how the band has evolved in terms of songwriting -- and as a whole -- making a name change very understandable and necessary. The band played songs from their LP Lost at Sea along with some new tracks that were easy to enjoy upon the first listen. Gavin and bassist Andrew Wyatt even humoured me when I asked for an old Friday Morning’s Regret song from their 2004 self-titled release by playing what they remembered. And last, but certainly not least, the set was topped off with a rockin’ cover of "American Girl" by Tom Petty. What more could the Thursday night show-goers ask for?

It is safe to say that the packed Black Sheep Inn crowd left that night knowing they got their money’s worth. Along with a few new cds and band t-shirts, hopefully.

***photo by Tyler Ross

Wooden Sky - The Wooden Sky

We Are The Hunters - The D'Urbervilles


the girls said...

glad to have you back!

i want to go to the black sheep :(
it sounds amazing.

ottawastreetstyle said...

hehehe i went to high school with Leif! Awesome musician!

girl 4 said...

Leif played a song with Devendra Banhart when I saw him (Dev) in Montreal. It was magical.