As someone who doesn’t love the idea of nationalism, it’s always surprising when a band triggers a sense of Canadian pride. Hailing from the opposite coast of Newfoundland, Hey Rosetta! looks like the kids that grew up down the street instead of down the country. The songs form all the sub-categories of indie: rock, pop, folk and blues by constantly switching instruments and vocalists. With the violinist and cellist running across the stage with smiles to play different keyboards at one point; obviously this band is playing with a whole lot of talent and a whole lot of heart.
A sentimental heart as well as a joyful one, as the Victoria show was the last stop of the Canadian tour. Frontman – Tim Baker – spoke of coming from blizzards in Newfoundland to cherry blossoms in Victoria, a reminder of just how much land spans Canada. That pride stirring when the band sounds exactly like the band you dreamt up with your friends. With every song having a moment where every instrument is played like it’s a solo just to hear everyone’s talents squished together, even if it gets a little overwhelming. It’s that type of break that always picks up the crowd and lifts them to their feet to ask for more.
More of one member switching from trumpet to french horn to vocals and piano at every new song. More of hearing ‘thank-you’ every time a guitar is handed to the musicians from the crew. More of the Canadiana genre.
The simple lyrics of ‘Red Heart’ played near the end of the set brought out that beautiful pairing of rising instrumentals with crisp and clean lyrics. Instead of the soon – if not already – trite strumming crescendos popularized by Mumford and Sons, Hey Rosetta! builds up a melody of a receptive piano rhythms indicative of laughter perfect for the lyric “but you look so good when you’re laughing you know” A song that shines with positivity and joy, so much so that it brought Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan on stage to bear-hug the members and sing along.
Hey Rosetta! unfortunately had to end, but instead of ending with ‘Red Heart’ as one would expect, they wrote a song to say thank-you to all their crew and fans for allowing the tour to happen. A band of sentimental Canadian hearts indeed.
After a short intermission of mingling tweens with parents, teenagers occupying the hours before curfew and those in their twenties seeking nostalgia, the lights flickered and it was time for Stars to perform.
Opening with an overemphasis on their newest release, Stars showed why they are seen for nostalgia and not for these new singles. The tracks off No One Is Lost all try to communicate with a party culture that doesn’t care about consequences. Vocals echo out “put your hands up cause everybody dies” and “I don’t care if we never come home” which seem odd for two forty-year old parents. You know they don’t really mean it.
Even Torquil Campbell at the end of the show, after exclaiming about how happy they were to be on stage, lamented about how much pain he was in and how he hopes to injure himself so he can retire. Although this was said with humor it perfectly represented the lack of inspiration behind their latest album. Refreshment from this odd juxtaposition between age and subject matter was offered by Hey Rosetta’s goofy synchronized dance while clad in eighties style sweats and leggings. This light-hearted rendition took the melodrama away from these attempts at party anthems.
After they left there was Amy Millan awkwardly strolling around the stage and continually going back to the speakers to drink during Torquil’s overdramatic portions. The nostalgic “Letter to ex lover”, “Take me to the Riot” and “Elevator Love Letter” were all done back to back, sandwiched between the new material. These older singles were performed with the ease of a naturally cultivated dynamic between spousal singers.
Although Stars performed well and with enough combined energy to leave the crowd happy and nostalgic, they’re combating fading into obscurity with insincere attempts to reinvent their image. A sign of bravery, but also dishonesty. Keep your eyes on the rising stars for the honest attempt but don’t lose sights of these fading one to remind you that everyone moves on from teenage angst.