Concert Reviews

Wake Owl with Lyon at The Garrison – Friday, February 28, 2014

Do you know karaoke means empty orchestra? I would love to sound super smart but I actually learned that from watching “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World” too many times.  I bring this up because Lyon’s latest music video for her song ‘Floating’ is her performing in an almost empty karaoke bar with contemplative patrons. She talked about the background story and concept behind this video on the Capsule Podcast. It also was the first song she played at her packed show at The Garrison while she is on tour opening for Vancouver area psychedelic pop band Wake Owl.

Lyon hit the stage just after 9:30 PM wearing an all black ensemble consisting of black boots, black jeans and a black leather jacket. She showed a hint of colour with a cute brown hat covering her large curly blonde hair. This must have been an important show for everyone involved since there were at least four photographers pushing their way up to the front to get some action shots of the band playing, something I don’t see very often in smaller venues like The Garrison. While the noises coming out of the speakers were distinctly 80’s synth pop, the vocals were very haunting and at times eerie. This song seems to be inspired by either a bad breakup or some other tragic event of being lost and confused. It had the urgency of Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like a Wolf’ vocals complete with airy synth riffs.

A few songs in to her set most of her four-piece band sat at the back of the stage where Lauren Maylon’s talents were able to shine with minimal back up where she played ‘Lullaby’ fittingly enough. It was just Maylon and her keyboard with some soaring vocals. Towards the end of the song her back up keyboard/violin player joined in with s subtle strings piece. It was really nice to hear some almost isolated vocals because in some songs I felt the band was a bit too loud to understand the words and intimacy of the songs.

The night was like an 80’s pop slow jam dance party. Lyon’s drummer and bass player kept a super tight 4/4 beat throughout the night that made it easy to grove along and drift away. At one point Lyon busted out a cover of the great Lorde song ‘Team’. It seems like there is a new wave of delicate synth pop woman like Lorde or the local band DIANA who also have similar inspirations. Maylon’s vocal range is similar enough to Lorde’s so the cover works quite well. She even busted out some Lorde dance moves, which if you have seen her perform any time you know what I mean. Her guitarist played it like The Edge of U2 would have played if he was a new kid making music today, with alternating fast plucking and slow burning notes.

The set ended with the self-titled song off her latest EP ‘Indian Summer’ which was a shimmery pop/funk song that ended their performance with a dance party! The beat rocked along and by this time the vocals must have been turned up because every wistful word was clear as a summer day. This girl’s peers are Lorde and Lights and she will one day very soon be as recognizable as both of them.

I stuck around for the main set of seeing Wake Owl perform and while I had only listened to their debut EP Wild Country which was more of a folk rock sound, their soon to be released first full length album (out on March 4th) has a much more psychedelic feel to it. The band came out with a fun intro that sounded like a slow sexy 80’s beat mixed with ska flares. This band has terrific harmonies as the three main vocalists sang most of the songs in unison.

They played a fantastic song ‘Candy’ that sounds like Rodriguez inspired the lyrics, but the music was a cross of something Alt-J and Tame Impala would play. The theme of the night was baby making music with plenty of sensual songs with falsetto-lead vocals from Colyn Cameron.

The crowd seemed to get most excited for the song ‘Letters’ a song that may become a first dance favourite at weddings in years to come. The crowd was encouraged to clap along to the beat during the chorus. The violin parts were quite beautiful and something that will stick out in my mind for a while. Aiden Briscall will be a great arranger for years to come, something the sold out venue already knew.

Cameron remarked how they had not played in Toronto since a gig for Canadian Music Week several years ago when they were just starting out. They felt the need to atone for this error by making every song have an extended freak out solo session by all the members, which was really fun to witness.

Wake Owl also busted out a cover in their set playing the classic ‘Runaway’ by Del Shannon, substituting the high pitched organ parts with the violin, playing it pitch perfect. Cameron has a great voice and he proved it by being able to get every high note of the chorus of the “I wah-wah-wah-wah-wah wonder”.

I went in expecting a folk show, but ended up getting a lot more with some seriously skilled musicians playing a set that the crowd absolutely adored. They seemed very humbled by the attention they are getting and if their Sound Cloud hits are any indication this band is just about ready to become a household name.

About author

Music Editor at Live in Limbo and Host of Contra Zoom podcast. Dakota is a graduate of Humber College's Acting for Film and Television. He now specializes in knowing all random trivia. He writes about music, sports and film. Dakota's life goal is visit all baseball stadiums, he's at 7.