Photos: Tyson Elder
The last time The Wooden Sky performed at Lucky Bar, they lead the crowd into the streets in a Pied Piper-esq encore. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this time, but The Wooden Sky’s return to town was just as magical as any of their past performances here.
Kicking off the night was Hawk & Steel. Despite playing two shows within the week, the band really mixed up their setlist, adding more songs from their first album, “Danger Road.” The diversity of songs made the set interesting for the few of us who saw them last Thursday at ANIÁN. Their selections also fell more in line with the sounds of the night’s headliner, The Wooden Sky.
Hawk & Steel felt warmed up and clearly fed off the energy of the nearly sold out show at Lucky Bar. There were more guitar solos, smiles, laughs, and energy than their previous gig just days before. The addition of Vancouver’s Nathan Shubert on keys brought new dimensions to their live performance, most notably on songs like “Words,” “Searching For Home,” and “The Miserable Existence of Ian Johnson.”
At one point during the band’s set, someone in the crowd audibly shushed the rest of the audience for talking through the band’s set. This was, hands down, one of the greatest things to ever happen at a Victoria concert. Crowds like to be rude and talk here. Finally, someone had had enough.
The band is now taking a small break from shows before heading off to WoofStock in Prince George for their only festival appearance this summer. Then, they’ll be back in action in Victoria for their Band of the Month showcase later this fall.
Toronto’s The Wooden Sky makes their way to Victoria maybe once or twice a year, and have built quite the following out here over the years. This time they returned on their Swimming In Strange Waters Tour. The years of flannel-and-beards fans have given way to adoring female fans singing and dancing along to all their songs. It’s a refreshing change of pace for the indie rock and indie fuzz folk scene. It’s great to see a band which has worked hard to put out consistently well-polished records that translate to their live shows finally have the crowd that loves everything they do.
The hand claps of the entire audience as the band played “Take Me Out” felt like an almost religious experience. An urban hymn.
The entire night was peppered with new and old songs alike. Noticeably missing from their set was “When We Were Young” from their 2009 record, “If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone.” But that was easily made up when the entire crowd sang along to an unplugged version of “Oslo” in the encore.
Before driving into “Oh My God (It Still Means a Lot to Me)” during the encore, lead singer Gavin Gardiner proclaimed that one of it was one of that touring band member John’s second to last shows for quite a while. He didn’t go into much more detail, but it brought the night to a sombre point as the band was about to tour on without him.
Through and through, it’s exciting to see a seasoned Canadian indie act like The Wooden Sky make their way to a packed house in Victoria, BC. If you’ve missed their shows here before, you may get a chance to seem them again later this fall or in the early winter of 2016. We highly recommend you take the opportunity. You won’t regret it. Well, that’s if you don’t leave with an empty wallet and an arm full of vinyl like we did.