Photos by Katrina Lat.
To celebrate the release of Ms. Brooklyn Doran’s debut full-length album, Toronto promoter A-Minor hosted a swell bash showcasing the finest folk, country, and acoustic music the city had to offer. The Drake Underground was buzzing with anticipation as a Snap’d photographer was busy taking photos of the fanciest of guests (why yes, my photo was taken too!) and other members of the Toronto music scene were in attendance. The first band up was the seven-piece outfit A Fellow Ship, which I’m still perplexed on how they all fit up on that tiny stage together. Having not been familiar with them prior to the night, I was shocked when they got the crowd dancing right from the get go, as they sounded like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros if had a soul section that mixed with the twanginess of the mandolin. The call and response singing provided by Joe Dent and Forest Van Winkle was beautiful to hear live and the bands harmonies all fit together with ease. A Fellow Ship had a super fan up at the front that looked like hippie Jesus as he bounced around shoeless and singing along to most of the songs.
The second act of the night was UKAE (like the British Empire) that was just as fun and upbeat as the first act. Their alt-country meets folk pop was irresistibly infectious. Co-lead singers Taylor Whittaker and Nickie Minshall have an adorable chemistry that had you smiling while you were dancing. At one point Minshall busted out a harmonica, which is when you knew the band meant business as they were unapologetically loud filling the small venue up with noise. Both acts profusely thanked A-Minor for inviting them to play and congratulating Doran repeatedly on the success of her new album. Speaking with Doran near the bar she jokingly lamented that she was worried about following up two dance heavy acts as her shows emphasize her considerable vocal talents and knack for writing clever songs.
As the women of the hour took the stage, a small army of studio musicians that played with her on her album, These Paper Wings, helping her to recreate every note flanked Brooklyn Doran. She started the set by playing Paper Wings a gentle number, that was first played back during CMW when we last saw Doran play. As she ran through what seemed like the entirety of her new album, released just a day earlier, the packed crowd was raptly paying attention to every note. When she played Say the Words, a romantic ballad, she dedicated it to her boyfriend who was in the audience making the couples in attendance slow dance along. Her fuller backing band, which included a pedal steel player, had an almost Blue Rodeo like quality to the music. The band left for a few songs as Doran played guitar and with just a keyboard player to back her up, showcasing her raw and delicate voice. As the band came back out they performed songs like The Villain, which had a real thumping drum beat to it. For an encore she played an older single of hers There’s a Light On (Kitchen Song) that the crowd eagerly sang along to letting Doran be backed by gentle strumming as she had a huge smile on her face. After the show ended, people were constantly heading over to the merch booth to buy the record they just heard as Doran held court thanking well wishers for coming out.
Editor’s note: Brooklyn Doran is an occasional contributor to Live in Limbo; we are covering her show like we would any other concert in Toronto.