Circa Waves at the Velvet Underground

Photos by Janine Van Oostrom

In 2014 Circa Waves released the single “T-Shirt Weather” a song that would go on and change the course of their career. It’s a song that would soon be put on every single summer playlist until the end of time and that would bring them to new heights in the U.K. Three years later their second album, Different Creatures, was released and with it a whole new sound was born. When I first heard the new album the first thing that I wondered was how the new and old sounds would mix in a live show. My question was soon to be answered when Circa Waves added two solo shows at the end of their tour with Two Door Cinema Club, one of them being at the Velvet Underground in Toronto.

Circa Waves have never played a show in Toronto before and it’s always interesting to see a band for the first time in a new city. You never know how the crowd is going to react and how the dynamic of the show is going to play out. As it got closer to showtime the people started to pile in and after the opener the crowd was decently sized and ready to go. There was actually quite a few dedicated fans lining the front of the stage and that is always something that is nice to see at a small show. Throughout the entire show there were a few key things that I noticed that really made the show something special.

First of all was the crowd, this is something that the band themselves actually have no control over but can make or break a show. If the crowd is dismal and boring then it’s really hard to get yourself into the show. But on the other hand if the crowd is rowdy and pushy it is really hard to focus on the music and enjoy. Luckily the crowd in Toronto was neither of these, they seemed excited about the music without being too over the top. They knew the songs and were dancing and singing along with the band. Whether you were looking at the slightly crammed crowd at the front or the casual listeners down the sides and at the back, everyone seemed to be enjoying the music.

Next was the setlist, like I mentioned before Circa Waves’ first and second albums have two wildly different moods and sounds. I was curious to see 1) how they would integrate the albums onto one setlist and 2) how the crowd would react to the songs. I went in with high expectations and I wasn’t let down in the slightest. They effortlessly transitioned from their upbeat beachy old songs to their darker and heavier new songs without the smallest hitch. It seemed completely natural while adding an ever changing dynamic to the show. Their setlist was a pretty even split between both albums and the crowd really didn’t seem to have a preference for the new songs or the old (they knew every lyric regardless).

The last thing that really cemented this show for me was the energy that the band brought to the stage. Before the show we interviewed the band and the one thing that the lead singer, Kieran Shudall, mentioned really resonated with me. He said that it doesn’t matter how big the show they are playing is, they bring the same energy with them every time. In the U.K Circa Waves are playing some pretty massive shows to some pretty dedicated fans and here in North America they are still breaking into the scene, playing much smaller club shows. Anyone would think that it would be easier to bring more energy and passion to a show of 10,000 people opposed to 200 people. Yet Circa Waves didn’t; they brought everything they had with them, as if they were playing to a packed arena and not a small bar. As a member of the crowd a show is infinitely more enjoyable when you can tell that the band is giving it their all. Their passion was carried on throughout the crowd and made for one hell of a show.

Overall Circa Waves are a band that you need to watch. After seeing them live it is no surprise that they have been experiencing huge success in the U.K. and it is only a matter of time until that success is carried across the world.

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