By Samuel Stevens
July 13, 2019
Birds Hill Provincial Park – Shady Grove Stage
By Samuel Stevens
By Samuel Stevens
July 13, 2019
Birds Hill Provincial Park – Shady Grove Stage
While Winnipeg has been in a cold snap for a better part of two weeks, most Winnipeggers have been staying home to keep warm. For some concert goers, the mid -30 Celsius evening of February 6, 2019 wasn’t enough to keep them from making their ways to The Pyramid Cabaret for a lineup spotlighting the talents of both, Tyler Shaw and Sara Diamond.
To commence the evening, Montreal pop/R&B artist, Sara Diamond, made her presence known to the Winnipeg audience with her soulful and powerful voice mixed with her sultry R&B style. Diamond hit the Pyramid Cabaret stage promptly at 8:45 with a magnificent set of songs new and old. She performed songs off her recently released EP, Foreword, with the likes of, “Know My Name,” “Colors,” and “Fool.” She concluded her performance with a brand new song called “Ride” that she stated will drop in March.
Diamond first made her rise to fame approximately ten years ago with a brief stint in the mid-2000’s pop rock girl group, Clique Girlz. More recently, she was featured on the lead single, “Firestorm,” from the Montreal electronic duo, Adventure Club’s debut album, Red // Blue. Putting her back in the spotlight, she went on to tour with Canadian pop artist, [SEBELL] across Canada in February 2018. Throughout the rest of 2018, Diamond continued to work on new music, which resulted in what is now her new EP, Foreward, that released on October 26, 2018.
After the wonderful performance from Sara Diamond, the Coquitlam, British Columbia pop artist, Tyler Shaw, made his way to the stage in memorable fashion. As his band started performing on stage, without Shaw in sight on stage nor around the venue, you could hear his voice as his opening number, “Cautious,” rang out in The Pyramid Cabaret. A few seconds later, Shaw appeared at the back of the venue adjacent to the venue’s bar, then proceeded to make his way to the stage through the audience.
Winnipeg was the last date of Shaw’s west coast leg of his Intuition Tour, which saw Shaw touring to promote his sophomore album of the same name. Shaw performed a perfect mix of new and old songs throughout his set including “Overthink,” “The Wall,” “To the Man Who Let Her Go,” and his current single, “With You.” Shaw performed a few fan favourites with the likes of “Kiss Goodnight,” and “House of Cards,” both off his debut album, Yesterday. Following “To the Man Who Let Her Go,” an audience member held up a sign reading “It’s her B-Day → ,” which lead Shaw to perform an impromptu singing of “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl in attendance. Lastly, Shaw also performed a cover of Post Malone’s 2018 single, “Better Now,” during his time on The Pyramid Cabaret stage.
Shortly after Shaw’s set, he made his way to the merch table to the right of the stage to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk with the fans who wanted to. While I was conversing with a couple other concert-goers inside the venue after the show, I noticed Tyler hanging out with two girls in the middle of the venue. Tyler pulled his guitar out and said, “They missed the show, I’m going to sing them a song” to the few remaining people inside the venue. He began to perform an acoustic rendition of his debut single, “Kiss Goodnight,” for the two girls who sadly missed the performance do to a car accident on their way to the show.
Silverstein with guests Hawthorne Heights, As Cities Burn, Capstan, and Alone I Walk
January 20, 2019
Manitoba’s own, Alone I Walk, was selected to join the touring line up for the Winnipeg date and kicked the night off just right. Alone I Walk is made up of the brother duo, Franky and Pascal Courcelles, along side their fellow Canadian musicians Shane Tasker and Cody McManus from the band Bellevue. The group performed tracks from their 2018 album, Wander, as well as material off their first album Lost At Sea and their EP, Already Lost. Since the release last year of the wildly popular album Wander, the band has embarked on two tours of North America and has fairly earned their spots opening for PVRIS in April 2018 and now for Silverstein on the band’s When Broken Is Easily Fixed 15th Anniversary Tour.
Following Alone I Walk, the progressive post-hardcore band, Capstan, hailing out of Orlando, Florida, braced the extremely bitter Winnipeg cold as well as The Garrick stage to perform for their very first time in the city. The first thing that struck my eye as the band hit The Garrick stage was that Capstan’s vocalist, Anthony DeMario walked upon the stage proudly wearing a Humboldt Broncos t-shirt to honour the victims of the horrific accident. The band performed a decent sized set of seven songs, including the tracks, “The Wreath and the Follower,” “Stars Before the Sun,” and “Wax Poetic.”
Performing after Capstan was the post-hardcore turned indie rock band, As Cities Burn. As Cities Burn brought a high octane performance from all the band’s five members on stage in their debut Winnipeg performance. As the band has never been to the city before, their seven song set was sure to include music from all three of their records, Son, I Loved You at Your Darkest, Come Now Sleep, and Hell or High Water. Some of the songs performed in front of the Winnipeg audience included, “One: Twentyseven,” “This Is It, This Is It,” “84 Sheepdog,” and their most recent single, “2020 AD.” Subsequently the track “2020 AD” was dropped in November 2018 after the band announced signing to Equal Vision Records.
Sporting a gigantic backdrop that read “I used to listen to Hawthorne Heights in high school,” it was no question who was up to the stage after As Cities Burn. Unlike Capstan and As Cities Burn, the Hawthorne Heights crew aren’t strangers to the city of Winnipeg and have performed in the city on multiple occasions in the past. The band is currently touring in support of their new album, Bad Frequencies. From that new record, they performed three songs during their nine song set.
Among those three was “Just Another Ghost,” a track about losing loved ones way too early in life. Vocalist, JT Woodruff had the Winnipeg audience hold up their phone flash lights during the performance of the song, which illuminated the entire venue in the bright white light of cell phone LEDs. Hawthorne Heights’ set was primarily filled with older tracks however, which contained the fan favourites, “This Is Who We Are,” “Niki FM,” and “Ohio Is for Lovers.”
The final act of the night was no other than the Canadian post-hardcore legends, Silverstein from Burlington, Ontario. Silverstein are far from strangers to Winnipeg, let alone all of Canada. They’ve toured their entire home country over a dozen times supporting their vast catalogue of music, from as early as 2000. The most recent time Silverstein made their way through Winnipeg was just over a year ago on November 7, 2017. The tour date was part of the band’s Canadian leg of their Dead Reflection Tour (which can be read about here).
Silverstein performed a huge twenty one song set, which was split into two halves. The first ten songs were off the bands very first album, When Broken Is Easily Fixed, which turned 15 years old last year in May. The band was joined on stage by Capstan vocalist, Anthony DeMario to perform the album’s title track, “When Broken Is Easily Fixed.” The track originally featured, Kyle Bishop of the now defunct Toronto post-hardcore band, The Black Maria.
The second half of Silverstein’s set was dubbed, “The Greatest Hits” by vocalist, Shane Told. This part of the set included a plethora of fan favourites such as, “The Afterglow,” “Smile In Your Sleep,” “Call It Karma,” “Massachusetts,” and “Discovering the Waterfront.” The bands encore was performed mostly acoustic and the songs performed were, “Aquamarine” and “My Heroine.”
While the band’s When Broken Is Easily Fixed 15th Anniversary Tour is said to be Silverstein’s only headline tour of the year, it has yet to be clarified if the band will take time off the road to start writing and recording the follow up to their 2017 album, Dead Reflection, or if they’ll be touring as an opening act on an upcoming tour bill, as the band is well known to do on occasion. Regardless of which route the band is set to take, expect to see them on the road again very soon.
Upon hearing Senora May’s debut album, Lainhart, a few things will be made clear. For one, there’s no hunk of cheese big enough to coax her into the Rat Race. What she wants instead is a life outside the cage where she can stretch her legs and let her soul wander. Senora touches on this and more in her romantic album about life.
Not to be missed are the songs “Elusive,” “By My Lonesome,” and “Lainhart.” Written for a loved one who finds freedom only in reverie, the title track is sung like a letter from home. The bouncing tune reminds Lainhart of being “back in these hills every night in your dreams/ Shovelin’ hog shit while ya sing.” This song is meant to bring someone home, if only for the few minutes it takes to listen to.
At the midway point is “California King,” a stand out track both aesthetically and lyrically. Senora tells the story of love’s radiance fading to the ashes of nothing as cold stares turn to cold shoulders and quiet goodnights give way to the sharp click of the lights going out. As the years have passed, what was once the pain of loss has receded into a deeper understanding of what was and what is meant to be. Her pain has become hindsight understanding as she sings “I can’t even tell ya how we got this far, nor can I navigate the sea without a single star/ But I am the sun and I need no Goddamn moon.” The song ends with the same lines that began it; “There’s an ocean between us, calm as the eye of a storm/ Words won’t break it and tears won’t even cause a ripple.”
If you can’t hear the warbling of those first notes at the outset of “Only Want You,” you’ll need to add volume accordingly. This is a song that one can lean into like a drug when the other half of their heart flies across the country. Senora howls along with the wail of coyotes and together they are a tangled harmony of lovesick desertion. “The coyotes outside are singin’ my song” she says of the lonesome hillside anthem, bringing listeners to the solitude of wherever it is Senora sings her heart out from.
Senora May glows throughout this album, coming across to listeners as sweet, loving, and not to be fucked with. She embodies her own beautifully distinct and poetic fashion of interpreting life through music. Despite her past struggles she has found true happiness which flows at an unfreezable depth. She doesn’t mind being left alone, either, and she’d probably rather you left, anyways.
Live on Red Barn Radio l & ll isn’t the sort of country music album you’ll hear billowing from the open sunroof of a blue Honda Civic waiting outside a hot yoga studio. Instead, it’s a compilation of two live performances played on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo, all in perfect harmony with the one of a kind voice of Tyler Childers. An East Kentucky Man of Constant Sorrow, Childers voice harbours a distinct streak of pain and a generous splash of whiskey.
The songs on this album are the sum of hard times and hard truths. They each contain heartfelt and honest lyrics about loss, love, and the haunting mistress of strong drink. Tyler Childers writes and performs with the disturbing poeticism and power of Townes Van Zandt mixed with Kurt Cobain, offering listeners a raw, unashamed look into the core of himself and his miseries.
The standout track on this album is titled “Whitehouse Road.” The lines “Rotgut whiskey gonna ease my pain/ And all this runnin’s gonna keep me sane” flow into the chorus like a torch stream into the Lake of Fire. “We’ve been sniffin’ that cocaine/ Ain’t nothin’ better when the wind cuts cold,” Childers wails with a distant harmony sung by the Devil sat atop his shoulder. “Lord, it’s a mighty hard livin’/ But a damn good feelin’ to run these roads.” A chilling and honest ballad to the renegade life and that which Childers has found in the granulated embrace of the long white line.
Found at the end of the album, “Follow You to Virgie,” puts the breadth and complexity of Childers songwriting on full display in a piece dedicated to the memory of the “Mountain Beauty” he had once known. “Yeah, I reckon we were heathens/ But in her eyes we were saints” he sings, referring to the grandmother of a high school friend who had, in a sense, become a part of his own family. This song shares the moments spent “making sense of all these strings” with her as the sole audience member. “I can see her in the corner/ Singin’ along to all our crazy dreams” Childers sings, surely finding solace in those unshakeable memories.
This concert album rolls with the rhythm of a man on the run from himself. From “Deadman’s Curve” to “Whitehouse Road,” listeners are taken on a journey through Hell and most of the way back. Though this self proclaimed heathen leans on the Faith of his upbringing in his songwriting, this is by no means the sort of music to share around the fire at Bible Camp. These songs were written by a man with good reason to fear his God.