Vancouver-based Hey Ocean! were in Toronto for a sweet performance at the fitting environment of The Greaet Hall, and they brought their hometown friends The Zolas to share the stage with them.
If you didn't leave the venue smitten with Ashleigh Ball (vocals), you must not have been at the same show as me. Ashleigh is a perfect combination of passion and cuteness, but both of those attributes are second to the fact that she belts out some of the best female vocals in the country today. Combined with the talent of David Beckingham (guitar, vocals) and David Vertesi (bass, vocals), along with some addtional stage members, the strength of this band becomes obvious so fast.
Athough I'm somewhat familiar with their 2012 relase IS (released under the Universal label), it's not something that has found its way into my daily playlists. At the show, though, I was definitely part of the mintority, made clear by the many fans that could be heard singing along. The organization of the room, with the sound board on the second floor, makes it a little difficult for the sound technician to get the mix right, but the songs sounded near perfect almost everwhere on the floor.
The band's performance reached outside of my expectations, with enexpected moments of fieriness, including a a stunt late in the show where Ashlieght stood on the railing of the balcony, making both security and the audience a little uneasy. Spectacular sound and a showing that captured the minds of nearly every audience member made for a brilliant night out of West coast music.
With the stage being lit only by a projector playing the movie Blue Lagoon in the background, The Zolas performed a very generous set of their impressive music. The seemingly random levels of the light from the movie (between daylight and nighttime scenes) didn't often match the cadence or mood of the songs, but when I was able to really focus on the music instead of grid patterns on their faces, there were a number of songs that completely won me over.
Opening their set with "In Heaven", the first track from their recently released album Ancient Mars, they played thorugh a good portion of the new material, including a rendition of "Strange Girl" that brought the audience to roll forward due to all the dancing bodies. It's an noticeably catchy song, even among all the great songs that make up the album.
Because The Zolas live on the other side of the country, the shows they play in Toronto are fairly few and far between, but when their name pops up in the listings next, I would highly recommend getting out to see Zachary Gray (vocals, guitar) and Tom Dobrzanski (keyboard, vocals) do what they do so well. In the meantime, pick up Ancient Mars, it's great music.