The majority of Valentine’s Days past, I have spent not doing much. Sure, it’s just another day, until you try and do anything with anyone, and they’re all out for romantic dinners somewhere. My first love, however, is always music. It is always music that can squeeze and pull and bend the ol’ heartstrings better than anything else, and it is always music that is my close companion.
So, it was with monumental joy that perhaps the heartstring-bendiest group announced an appearance in humble Vancouver for the occasion. I can only remember two other V-days where I actually was up to anything – one was a somewhat awkward early-relationship dinner at a cheap Mexican restaurant in the suburbs; the other was being secreted off to Las Vegas, which, granted, was interesting, but I still think this gig beat them both out.
Hilariously, there was a running joke all night about the Miley Cyrus show that was going on about a block down the road from the Media Club the same night, and just to show you how out of touch I have gotten, I thought the first mention was just some off-the-cuff remark about Ms. Cyrus, having had no clue whatsoever that she was actually in town. Well, I somehow don’t think there is much audience crossover between the two.
Along for the tour with Shearwater was solo opener Jesca Hoop, who played a brief, intimate set to a cheerful crowd. Sporting a crown of pink flowers sent from a partner on another continent, her voice was sweet and her showmanship delightfully real, even bringing her to tears at one point.
Hoop was also part of Shearwater’s touring band this time around. The line-up was a little different than the previous 3 shows of theirs I have seen. This is just the second time I have managed to catch them play in Vancouver. The previous outing was also at the Media Club, and had been sparsely attended. Tonight, the room was packed – the Shearwater word is getting around quietly. This tour had been touted as being in support of the new covers album, Fellow Travelers, though material performed from this record was minimal. This group’s music is eclectic and bounces between mellow and mournful, and loud and chaotic. As they coax sounds out of their instruments and voices from their throats, you are compelled to feel like weeping and dancing kind of at the same time. I maintain Shearwater’s fans may not number in the millions, but they make up for quantity by possessing a unique passion for this music and the gamut of emotions it brings on.
This room is small and seems to be having an identity crisis, the stage is cramped (though palatial compared to a couple years ago), it’s dark, and you can hear it out front when someone flushes the toilet in the bathrooms located immediately behind the stage, but if there is one thing about the diminutive Media Club that I do love, it is that its low ceilings and cushy furnishings make it feel as if you’ve invited a band and a couple hundred of your closest friends over to watch a show in your basement. As the audience presses forth, you find yourself in arm’s reach of the musicians, feel the songs pulsing out of the speakers, and have the opportunity to take in every expression, note and nuance. What a place, what a set, what a band… and what a Valentine’s Day.
A good night isn’t a good night without making a couple new friends either – you know who you are. Thank you for adding to the evening!