With the explosive flame of their fiery performances; The Arkells are a band to be taken seriously. Over the course of four beautiful days, during the 2010 Olympic madness, we followed their shows. Braving the crowds to document one of the most under rated up and coming Canadian bands. Each night was filled with a brand of high octane alt rock, with definite Motown undertones. Their unique and contagious sound is catchy yet still has a great depth to its construction. Four days was not nearly enough of this band; The Arkells are a force to be reckoned with.
[singlepic id=1000 w=320 h=240 float=left]The first stop on their 4 night stint in our feverish city was at the Ontario Pavilion. This modest building was merely a giant box, with a bar at one end and a mini stage at the other. Max, the singer, took to the stage with his cohorts in tow. Few people in the congregation before them were even sure what to expect. Then they jumped into it, and by “it” I mean the moment. They took that stage and owned every second of it.
Mike, on guitar, and Dan, on keyboard, coated the performance with a possessed passion. Something you rarely see in true form these days. Mike traversed the stage with a jerky lunge like the music had taken over his body. Nick, the bassist, plays with a calm cool. His energy spent attacking his strings and lined each song with a rhythmic cool. Tim , on drums, was a mad man. He pummeled at those skins with the raw ferocity.[singlepic id=996 w=320 h=240 float=right]
The crowd in turn loved every second. With the passion these guys exuded, it is hard not to get wrapped up in every perfect moment. Soon enough the floor was alive with the leaping feet of a mini mosh pit. Eager attendees climbed to the shoulders of their brethren and forcefully surfed their way to the stage. The security dumbfounded, did little to prevent the little bit of chaos that ensued. Finishing the night up they had a sing along with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed and Delivered; a great ending.
[singlepic id=1022 w=320 h=240 float=left]Night two of the trek had the band out at the Richmond Ozone 2010 Olympic Celebration Site. Hosted at Minoru Park in Richmond, this outdoor venue was over run with an Olympic mob. The idea of a concert for free, brings all kinds of people out to a show. Families, and hooligans shoulder to shoulder in the icy night air.
This night had them opening for Our Lady Peace. By the reaction of the crowd, and my own eyes, The Arkells blew them off the stage. Again Max and team appeared on the stage; Max in a red and white tuque. The instant the first chord was plucked, the fanatics on the field erupted with exuberant pleasure. The venue was much larger than the previous night, but the crowd reacted much the same way.[singlepic id=1015 w=320 h=240 float=right]
The feet of surfers flickered out of sight and disappeared into the abyss of hands. Mike, owned that stage, working around the equipment like a ball of energy. His style was slightly more agressive, really taking advantage of the larger venue, and feeding the people what they wanted. The muddiness of the sound system killed part of the show. Its hard to properly mix a outdoors show, and it was obvious this night was no different. Maxs vocals were lost at some points in a sea of screams and instruments.
The band immediately reacted to this fact, and changed their angle. Either from experience or pure gut reaction. Within a song of the vocals fading off, they was a surge of aggression in the signers voice. Their ability to bringing some Motown covers to a performance really makes it feel intimate. My Boyfriends back, appeared at all four nights as a prelude to the last song. As well as just the static lyrics of Look at all the Lonely People. This was sung as a special chorus to their final song on each night. It gave the effect of finishing off the night, but after a a moment of silence they lept back into the final verse of their actual song. They show a creativity and passion that will keep them around for years to come.
[singlepic id=1045 w=320 h=240 float=left]On to night three, at the Surrey 2010 Olympic Celebration Site. The lineup into this venue was poorly managed, entry took over 40 minutes. The irritability of the crowd was high, but when The Arkells took to that stage it mesmerized every spectator. Their set was consistently similar over as the first two shows, but their style adjusted each night depending on the crowds reaction. On this fateful evening, Nick seemed more alive. Taking the beat for a walk across the stage, and pouring some of his charm into the crowd. The female portion of the audience seemed pleased by this indirect swooning.
This site was a mid sized venue; sporting about a third of the size as the Richmond site. The angle of attack of the band on this evening was a perfect hybrid of intimate and large venue. They took little details like smiles to the crowd, and multiplied them through out the night. Then when it came time to finish a song, they leapt around and through whipped their instruments around. Nothing ever seems planned with them either. Their stage prowess is natural and comes to them earnestly.[singlepic id=1040 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Max is always the center focus while on stage. His playful style and exuberant passionate vocals win your vote within moments of seeing him preform. The band seems to get even better with age, over the each night of this trek I was pleased to see them adjust to every obstacle. They truly are musicians through and through.
[singlepic id=1070 w=320 h=240 float=left]The final night of this adventure took place at LiveCity Yaletown; located at David Lam Park in Vancouver. Bar none this was their best performance. The excitement coursing through their veins, from the previous three nights, exploded into one of the most memorable concerts I have seen in a few years. Max and Mike were on fire, with unstoppable interplay. Dan ravaged the keyboard, and exuded a pure spirit of Motown oneness with the sound. Nick was overflowing with excitement, grinning from ear to ear. Those drums sounded intense, Tim wreaked havoc a the back of the stage.
LiveCity Yaletown was nearly the same size as the Surrey 2010 Celebration Site. The only difference tonight was the shear intensity with which the band carried itself. During the past three nights they had shown an energetic and excited side to their bands persona. On the final night all their emotion and the overwhelming Olympic fever in the air, culminated into musical bliss. Few acts captivate your attention as well as The Arkells did. They brought high flying, good humor Motown spirit and spread it over the eagr crowd. Like the flickering tip of the flame, the out stretched hands of the audience licked the cool night air. Feeding off one another the crowd and the band built steam. An amazing interconnectivity that contributed to such an amazing live show.[singlepic id=1072 w=320 h=240 float=right]
The entire feel of the night was magical. The Arkells are the culmination of pure passion for musical integrity. I have great admiration for this group and will seek out all future shows in any area I am in. Max, Mike, Dan, Nick and Tim are a quintet worth every cent. They bring the good time sound, and the high spirit live shows every concert fan deserves. With the past album under their belt and the accompanying tour complete, we wait on future endeavors of this band. The anticipation of new material from them has many a mouth watering. Throughout the four nights they teased us with the occasional new piece.
All in all the adventure of following this band around during their Olympic concert series, was amazing. Having their spotlight shine with so many international visitors should really aide in getting them better known. Walking out of all four shows the whispers of the crowds were the same; Who was the band again? The Arkells.