Civil Twilight @ Biltmore © Andy Scheffler
© Andy Scheffler

Civil Twilight + Dreamers @ Biltmore Cabaret – October 14th 2015

The Biltmore had a decent crowd for a midweek night as I entered, though I was somewhat dismayed to find that I had again missed the opening-opening band due to them going on stage well before the advertised start time of the show. As it was, I got there right around the time Brooklyn-based trio Dreamers hit the stage. All three were outfitted in vintage t-shirts (Bowie, Dylan, and Flashdance), and put forth a phenomenal energy despite the early hour and the drifty crowd that seemed to need prodding to display any enthusiasm. A few, “Come onnn!”s got the audience more in the game. They have a bit of a punk-light look and a sound that is pretty rock n’ roll. Lead vocalist/guitar player Nick Wold commented early on that it’s cold in Canada, which is outstanding, because I don’t think Vancouver is really much colder than New York, but it was a brisk fall day for sure. These guys brought with them a pretty reasonable fan base, who had traveled from Seattle and seemed to be on par to head back to watch them play in Spokane the following night as well. Later in the set when Wold said, “This is not a love song,” I thought he was just making a general statement, but it turns out that the song is actually called “Not A Love Song.” There were a few wolf howls, guitars being played with teeth, lots of wide-splayed stances and hair flipping by their bassist, who seems to just go by the name Nelson. They were a nice warm-up to Civil Twilight and one to watch going forward.

Dreamers @ Biltmore © Andy Scheffler
© Andy Scheffler

Civil Twilight was up next after a quick changeover. I had only recently become acquainted with this band via a ‘Youtube Rabbithole’ kind of situation, but had become enamoured with a couple of their songs, both of which I was delighted to see performed tonight. Three of the members are originally from Cape Town, South Africa, but now call Nashville home. This makes sense, as I had also learned they had been in Vancouver a couple of times before (both times playing with friends’ bands – not sure how I missed that!) and was fairly well stunned at the idea that an indie band would travel from South Africa to Vancouver three times in a handful of years to play club shows! The band cycles between light and airy, dark and intense, and brooding yet energetic, even a dash of a warm reggae-like sound sneaks its way in at times. A four piece with lots of instruments on stage, though singer/bassist Steven McKellar and keyboardist/guitar player Kevin Dailey actually take on multiple instrument roles and sometimes swap between all those instruments, including the lovely old piano shell that they have apparently carved out and plunked a modern keyboard into. This was quite notable when the amusingly enthusiastic contingent of Civil Twilight fanboys in the front started buzzing when McKellar put his bass down and grabbed an electric guitar, which evidently is the clue that the next song is going to be, ” Oh Daniel.” The guys started making “Ayiiie ayyyye” sounds, leading McKellar to grin at them and remark,”Mexicans? I love Mexicans… Was this song a hit here or something? No one knows ‘Daniel.'” Dailey is the one non-South African member of the group, being picked up in North Carolina. “That’s sort of south,” said McKellar by way of introduction. The band also have a song called “Let It Go,” a title now all-too-familiar the world over thanks to a certain popular animated Disney film. Comments have definitely been made about the two songs having the same title. Apparently McKellar has not watched the movie. “What was it like?”

Civil Twilight @ Biltmore © Andy Scheffler
© Andy Scheffler

The guys up front were pretty amusing the whole time. They were super into it, probably a few drinks in. At least one guy didn’t seem to have any prior knowledge of the band but was superbly enjoying them, even though he seemed incapable of clapping on time while he sashayed around to the songs. That did not pass through to the rest of the crowd though, and while McKellar came out to do the first part of the encore solo, a beautiful song called “All My Clothes,” a series of loud conversations taking place at the back of the room started to get more obvious. This led to an interesting exchange. McKellar was busy thanking the up-front crowd and telling them he’ll go have a drink with them after, and then started calling out the people at the back of the room. “I bet they won’t even… Hey. Hey guys!…” He began to address the talkers at the back of the room (I won’t even go into what he called them!) and as could be expected, they didn’t notice or cease their conversations. McKellar went on to change a line from the next song, normally today is too quiet in my town, to today is not quiet in my town. Aside from that little hiccup, they seemed to be having a good time on stage. McKellar’s hands fluttering at key phrases – guitarist and the singer’s brother Andrew McKellar often kneeling at his array of guitar pedals to produce some new sounds – drummer Richard Wouters, behind a flashy sparkley red-white-and-blue kit, sometimes pausing with a wide grin and a big arm stretch between his parts – a huge, jammy guitar solo by Dailey that seemed to be encouraged by the rest of the band to continue longer. The band returned to the stage though for the last bit of the last song, and McKellar instructed the audience to sing them out. He left the crowd singing a couple of bars while he quietly walked off the stage, the rest of the band following a short time later as the last bars hummed out across the room.

Civil Twilight

Dreamers


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *