The Garrison, Toronto, ON, November 12
It's often intimidating to take the headlining role when you're used to opening for others, so it's no surprise that Brooklyn trio Yellow Ostrich were a bit anxious to take the stage Monday night at Toronto's Garrison. But if being the early bird performers had taught them anything, it's to charm your way to the audience's heart and be grateful for the turnout.
As lead singer Alex Schaaf stopped to say mid-set, "Thanks for allowing there to not be zero people here as that was a fear of mine at one point."
Another advantage to their experiences with previous tours is that, instead of being thrust into the spotlight with little time to prepare, Yellow Ostrich have all the elements in line to give us a proper show worthy of its own crowd.
Schaaf's wide-eyed, adolescent melodies are bright and optimistic, but it's clear that two albums and an EP into his career, he's beginning to show more layers. Now complete with drummer Michael Tapper and multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez, the band are reinvigorated with a determined rhythm section, and even horns and clarinets, to flesh out and complement what Schaaf already had, pushing Yellow Ostrich's indie pop aesthetics way past the Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes foundations.
The band work best when all the collective elements come to a clash, in a furiously layered track of stomping drums, sharp riffs and bass, such as "Marathon Runner." The exception to the rule might be the more minimalistic "Whale," where Schaaf's looped vocals throw back to his earlier days recording alone but highlight his progressing song writing and attractive, nasally vocals.
Yellow Ostrich are still a band in the midst of growing and crafting their own sound, but a band that deserves their own stage and audience by now. After all, they did draw more than zero people, and not only were their roaring with applause, they were cheering for more.
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