November 22nd, 2008

iRoh

Hey America! Listen to Hey Ocean!

At the fondue party on Sunday, Janet invited us all to come see her brother's band, Hey Ocean!, on Friday and/or Saturday. I assumed they were an unknown local band I would have many chances to see, like Rachel's brother's band. But when I looked them up, I discovered they were A) from Canada and B) fairly big there! There was a lot of good press about them; they were only nobodies here. Janet found it hard to describe their music, but she said that no one she'd had listen to them didn't like them.

I listened to some samples on Facebook, and they sounded nice. Yesterday was the end of a pretty hellish week, and I thought that maybe a concert was just what I needed. And the Of Montreal show was sold out. I asked Janet to push me over the edge, and she sent me an mp3 and a YouTube link and said she'd buy me a drink. I gave the songs a listen and decided that, come on, seeing friend's brother's bands is what life's all about.

The show was at the Boom Boom Room, by Fillmore and Geary. It was a very small venue, comprising a few yards of tables-narrow walking space-bar that led up to the small dance floor and stage. The stage, however, did have a red curtain, so points for that. I had no trouble finding Janet since there were very few people there, and she was sitting at the table closest to the stage. She thanked me for coming; she was glad I came. Colin had arrived before me. No, not that Colin, but one of her NASA co-workers, a British guy with a lisp. We were later joined by Jess. No, not that Jess, but a friend of hers from...school? And then there was Emily, a friend from...something else. It was funny; she knew us all from different things. (And, bizarrely, as I discovered from Facebook, she knew Ryan from some conference.)

Hey Ocean! tuned up onstage. Janet's brother was the bassist, Dave. The guitarist/singer was also named Dave, so he was called Dave-o. In the back was Danny on drums. And the lead singer was a cute blonde girl named Ashleigh. We discovered that the table next to ours was a table of Ashleigh's supporters, led by a woman named, wouldn't you know, Jessica. She said that if we had any more people coming, they would make room for us and smush. I love when bands aren't superhuge and the fans all band together.

Janet introduced me to Danny, who had a neat hat, and Dave, who sat down with us for a bit. He read my shirt: "'I listen to bands that don't even exist yet.' That's great." A member of a band liked my shirt about bands! Cool! He started writing the setlist.

The show finally started a little before 10, an hour after I arrived. I was not surprised that the band was quite good. After the first couple songs, I decided they reminded me of the Hush Sound, and not just in member composition. A groovier, piano-less Hush Sound. Or perhaps, to use one of the linked posts above as guidance, a more upbeat Morcheeba? A funkier Norah Jones? It was jazzy, funk-influenced indie pop, with prominent bass (go Dave) and a lot of rhythm. In fact, they sort of reminded me of Rachel's brother's band, but with a girl. And, like Jake, Ashleigh would sometimes burst into a flurry of impressive white girl rap. Live, Ashleigh sang sort of like the lead singer of Moloko, though her voice is a little more subdued in the studio.

Some highlights from the set:
  • Ashleigh played a glockenspiel in the beginning. She also had a tambourine. And she played the triangle with a spoon. I mused that, not having to deal with a stringed instrument around her neck, she could be a Jill-of-all-trades, even if she wasn't playing very difficult instruments. Then at the end of one song, she busted out with a flute. That's right, girl was a flautist. It was as if she had heard my thoughts and wanted to challenge my assumption that she couldn't play a musical instrument, only sing. She engaged in some pretty funky fluting. And I think she'd been in a marching band or something because later on, she did a few marching band-esque maneuvers like holding her flute out from her body with both hands. I think the flute is Hey Ocean!'s secret weapon, like Flobots' viola.
  • In the middle of one song, the two Daves grabbed a couple drums from offstage and then, unexpectedly, there was this awesome percussion breakdown, with all three guys drumming. And then Ashleigh joined in with a fucking cowbell. It was awesome. Janet said that when they play in their hometown of Vancouver, they get this Afro-funk band to join them and they jam for twenty minutes.
  • During "The Beat Boxer Who Broke My Heart," Dave-o beatboxed with his right hand, but there was still a guitar line to be played, dammit! Dave the bassist came over and stood behind him, and while Dave-o continued to work the frets with his left hand, Dave strummed the strings from behind. It was so cool.
  • Before "Fish," the band asked if we were up for some audience participation. They did not have horns with them, so they needed us to fill in the horn part. Dave said, "So if you're feeling...horn-y." "Wooo!" I cried, not because I was feeling horny but because I heart bad puns.
Collapse )

After the set, I hit the merch table. A bystander said I should buy both CDs. Both, eh? "You have twenty bucks, right?" As a matter of fact, I did. I looked at both CDs, Stop Looking Like Music and It's Easier to Be Somebody Else, both available for more than ten bucks each on the delightful and lovable CD Baby. There were songs I liked from the set on both discs, so I got them both because how else could I share them with you? I promised Janet I would tell America about this great Canadian band. So here, have some free music, you guys. According to CD Baby, it "[i]nspires thoughts of beaches, sunny days and good times." Don't we need that right now?

From Stop Looking Like Music:
"The Beat Boxer Who Broke My Heart": One of Janet's favorite songs, it is exactly as fun as it sounds.
"Eskimo Kisses": An Eskimo man, and an Eskimo missus / I'll cover you in Eskimo kisses. ADORABLE!
"Warning": And one where Dave-o sings lead so you can get an idea for his voice and the harmony of the two voices.

From It's Easier to Be Somebody Else:
"A Song About California": It's fun and jaunty! This is the one Janet sent me to convince me to come, and it's totally a favorite.
"Fish": I am a fish, I am a fish and I need water. Definitely one of my favorites.
"Liar": Again, a Dave-o song with nice harmonies.

Janet was happy I'd gotten the CDs, as they were basically all she'd been listening to for the last year. We saw Ashleigh emerging from the back. "Do you want to meet her?" asked Janet. Sure!

In the words of Kevin Barnes and Dwight Schrute: This is where the story gets interesting.

Collapse )