Live Review: Ladyhawk @ The Biltmore Cabaret – November 1st 2012

I finally showed up for a show at a more reasonable time after doors open, so naturally things started late.

I had class in the morning, so I wanted things to speed up but it just wasn’t to be. Shotgun Jimmie was the first opener, and he got right into things as soon as the curtain opened. Jim Kilpatrick is a Canadian artist from Ontario, who, incredibly, plays guitar as well as snare and bass drum; all at once. He played a poppy kind of indie rock, and it fit perfectly as an opener. He played about 12 songs that were kind of goofy and had some odd lyrics (another song about a space station) but they fit really well with his quirky sense of humour; I loved it. For a few songs he used a mega-phone to sing, and his ability to play the snare and bass drums with kick pedals as he played guitar was spot on. For his last song he seemed pretty worn out, and his voice was pretty strained and out of key but it was well earned, so I didn’t mind.

Metz, a 3-person band from Toronto, were still behind the curtain when they started things up.

And they did not fit with this show at all.

At all.

Which, isn’t to say they were bad because I quite liked them. The issue was, that their whole noisy hardcore-esque sound was quite a shock after the previous act. Otherwise, they played a really good set. With 7 or so songs, they recently released an album and were full of energy as they rocked out on stage. I’m not sure what else to say about them in the context of this show, since it was a bizarre choice I think (other than simultaneous new releases between them and Ladyhawk). Bottom line, definitely a band to check out.

Ladyhawk went on at 11:40.

Ugh. Clearly my school bedtime plans have been crushed.

On the plus side, Ladyhawk played a great, well-rounded set; so not much to complain about. A band from the homeland of Vancouver, Ladyhawk consists of Duffy Driediger (guitar and vocals), Darcy Hancock (see previous), Sean Hawryluk (bass), and Ryan Peters (drums). Ladyhawk has been missing from the music world for a fairly long time. They just released an album this year, and had 2 albums and an EP out previously, though they were all in 3 years and the latest had a long 4-year gap in-between. Another tour for an album I hadn’t heard was another promise of exciting things to come. I think I may prefer things this way.

‘Footprints’ is the first track from their new album No Can Do, which was a good introductory song to the night, as it is for the album. With a laid-back, somewhat drone-y, hazy sound to it, it eases the band off-shore. ‘Evil Eye’ followed, picking up the pace and the energy in time for one of my favourites, ‘War’, which can be found on the Fight for Anarchy EP. Though the song doesn’t ask what it’s good for, ‘War’ has a really strong waltz feel to it, and lets you know right when to flick your head forward as you sway to the beat. I may’ve missed a song, as I got into a strange conversation that I half missed, where someone thought that I was in Metz and had just performed (which I played along with because it was far too late not to, haw haw haw), but I’m fairly sure that ‘Advice’ from the self-titled Ladyhawk album came next. I really only came back into reality half-way through ‘Advice’, so I don’t have much to say about it but the heavier ‘Came in Brave’ brought me back into the show, ticking away on the hi-hat. ‘I’m a Witch’ is another song from No Can Do, and it has a trippy flow that makes me think of riding a camel through the desert at sunset.

Don’t like my imagery? Make up your own. It’s fun. I promise.

Rather than being spit on by a camel (which would’ve been awful), I was disturbed from my Sahara journey by my friend Laura sneezing a mouthful of beer onto my arm. It was one of those hilarious moments where everyone thinks it’s funny other than the person who it came from, who just wants to curl up in a ball of sadness.

But it was cool, they were already playing ‘No Can Do’, the obvious title track from No Can Do and all was forgiven. I love the song, and it’s well-deserving of the title track status. Give it a listen; hopefully you give it the respect it deserves. ‘Sad Eyes/Blue Eyes’ brought things down to a swaying lull, and unfortunately had some timing issues as things seemed to fall apart in some areas. This was acknowledged by the band, which is cool; I like when people can admit that mistakes happened, rather than pretending it was all perfect and I’m crazy. The next song however, I’m at a loss for; I can’t find anything that fits the lyrics I wrote down, and about half-way to three-quarters of the way through the song things went into a half-time section, which also matches nothing I’ve heard. So yeah, there’s a hole in my set-list. Again. I want to pretend that it was ‘Fear’ from Shots, since it doesn’t fall anywhere on my set-list but I can’t make any promises and I feel like I would’ve at least figured that one out. Or maybe it was ‘Sinking Ship’, the only song missing from No Can Do on my setlist? Whatever; too much time has been spent on this mystery.

So instead, I’ll move onto ‘Window Pane’ from No Can Do. The band dedicated the song to Shotgun Jimmie, due to his drum-guitar-at-the-same-time skills, which I feel was appropriate. It’s a really good song and caps off the newest album perfectly. As they got ready to play ‘You Can Read My Mind’, which has some really pleasant harmonies in it, Duffy Driediger (aka I’m pretty sure it was him, as I didn’t have the best view of the stage) announced that “after all these years, I still don’t have my shit together”, as he tried to get his gear prepared. This was refuted by Sean Hawryluk (aka see last statement) who said the band was composed of “Wizened Veterans”. Not that I disagree, it was just funny.

‘You Ran’, which can be found on the Fight for Anarchy EP as well as the album Shots ran seamlessly into ‘New Joker’. ‘You Ran’ was so short, that I actually wasn’t sure if songs had switched, or if it was just a complete change with a single song.

Wow, that was a terrible sentence. My point being that there was a seamlessness that transcended the normal stop-start-with-clapping-in-between that songs usually had at shows. ‘My Old Jacknife’ brought cheers from the crowd, as it’s a particularly loved track from Ladyhawk. It’s got a great over-all feel to it, and is just an energetic driven song that includes a solid clap-line that won’t make you embarrassed for that one guy who loves clapping along with every song.

“Are you guys tired and bored and wanna go home?” Everyone cheers.

One of those classic moments where everyone follows what they think they should and it works hilariously.

‘The Dugout’ is another song from Ladyhawk, and is easily my favourite song by the band. I can’t explain what it is exactly; the pacing of the song is perfect, I love the hi-hat, and I guess the lyrics and the way they’re sung just really clicks with me. Either way, it’s a song that’s got a high play-count in my music library, and if you’re to listen to one song by Ladyhawk, let it be this. They even put on a rainbow light show for the song. That’s how important it is.

They ended their set with ‘Rub Me Wrong’, a quick blast of punk from No Can Do, and ‘I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying’, the starting track from Shots, which I always seem to forget that I really love. ‘I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying’ was a great song to end with, as it’s one of their most recognizable songs (at least in my opinion), and the crowd seemed to love it, as I heard some hooting and hollering as they started it. Naturally they came out for an encore, which was just ‘S.T.H.D.’ from Shots, which was played a bit slower than the album version but was still great to hear and end the night with.

The line-up was great, and the set-lists within each band was great too; not many complaints can be made from the evening other than a couple issues during Ladyhawk’s set, and just the bizarre transition in genre from Shotgun Jimmie, to Metz, and then back to Ladyhawk. The main message that I’m trying to send about the night is that, regardless of how odd I found the line-up, all three acts played really good sets of awesome songs. They were all skilled, all knew what they were doing, and are all worthy of praise.

I’d recommend checking out all three bands, though not necessarily in one sitting; unless you’ve got a taste in music that thrives on jumping around through-out genres at a whim, in which case, you missed out on a perfect night.

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