Bernice Fort York, Toronto ON, June 3

Bernice Fort York, Toronto ON, June 3
Photo: Shane Parent

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Recent Arts & Crafts signees Bernice wowed onlookers in their Saturday (June 3) afternoon sun-dappled slot at Field Trip festival. On the surface, Bernice's music might seem simple, but there's a rolling current that drives the band's work, and it's that tension, between their understated appearance and the complex nature of their songs, that makes them a really interesting live act.
 
Vocalist Robin Dann has the chops to do all the vocal gymnastics she wants, but opts instead for a softer, quieter register, as if she were only singing for a small group of friends. That group of friends (bassist Bram Geilen, keyboardist Thom Gill and percussionist Phil Melanson) support her words with a torrent of wonky, groovy sounds. Musically, they have all the curves of an R&B act, but temper it with a bit of chaos to match Dann's own wide-eyed perspective. Before listeners could come up with a logical comparison to make on their own, Bernice did the work for them, effortlessly weaving a Joni Mitchell cover into their set of original songs, a testament to the band's sense and ownership of their unique sound.