Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON
March 25, 2011
Review by: Lee Fraser
Photos by: Pete Nema
Did someone tell Said The Whale a day early that they won the Juno for New Group of the Year? On a night showcasing three Juno nominees, Said The Whale played as if they were celebrating a win. The votes are in, and this was one of the best shows ever at the Horseshoe.
Said The Whale
Holding their first Canadian show in a month, Said The Whale played the middle slot of an eclectic line-up at The Horseshoe. D-Sisive warmed up the crowd with his soul-baring rap, Justin Rutledge melted hearts with his romantic folk and catl put on a powerful late-night set (see below), but it was Said The Whale that received ear-damaging cheers every time Craig Norris mentioned the line-up for CBC Radio 3's live broadcast in celebration of the Junos. You'd hardly know that Said The Whale are not a Toronto-based band, judging by the turn-out. Known for being active on Facebook, Twitter and the CBC Radio 3 blog, Said The Whale have cultivated a stellar following. They have some of the best fans in Canada: excitable, loud and fun!
Fans in Toronto got their first glimpse of the new bass player, Nathan Shaw, at this show. How fortunate, I thought to myself, for Said The Whale to find a huge fan who happens to play kick-ass bass, as I watched him sing along to every lyric of every song. Nathan fits Said The Whale like the name Rickenbacker fits the headstock of a bass guitar. And fitting in is just the thing here. Every member of the band contributes to the on-stage presence in their own way. Spencer Schoening doesn't just play his drum set; he owns the space around him and uses it creatively without being insincere. Ben Worcester (vocals, guitar) is like the big brother everyone wants, acknowledging and reciprocating the love from the crowd. Tyler Bancroft takes centre stage with modesty, at one point shielding his eyes as he wondered aloud "Who are all you people?" Jaycelyn Brown (keys, vocals) is head-down, full-on concentrating during her shining moments, but is otherwise dancing and singing along, making all of us girls in the audience envious of what we imagine her life to be.
But it is the sum of all the parts that makes for a remarkable live show. Said The Whale has the gift of making you feel like you're in on something special. Being a live broadcast, Tyler and Ben described scenes of outrageous wonder to give the listening audience a thread on which to hang. As the night went on, the heat ramped up, forcing Jaycelyn to abandon her fashionable Radio 3 toque. Glockenspiels (yes, more than one!) and chest-thumping augmented the percussion. Tyler broke a string and tossed the guitar aside as the audience gasped in surprise.
The crowd boisterously sang along to fan favourites like "Emerald Lake, AB", "This City's a Mess" and "BC Orienteering". Three new songs were also well received. Fans embraced the story of Jessie moving from Arkansas to Edmonton and coping with the single life, and happily started singing along to a song about the future with a chorus of "We are 1980".
Said The Whale will be touring Canada with Tokyo Police Club and Dinosaur Bones throughout April, though sadly there is no Toronto date. In May, they venture even further afield and play a string of dates in the UK. Although there's no planned timeframe for the next album, Said The Whale will dedicate some time later this year for more song-writing. Such is the fate for the fans of an incredibly popular band … so many people want them and there's only so much time in the year.