Best Fern Bar Robo, Ottawa ON, February 2

Best Fern Bar Robo, Ottawa ON, February 2
Photo: Kamara Morozuk
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When artists use loops live onstage, it gives listeners a glimpse into their creative process, essentially making the building of a song, brick by brick, loop by loop, a kind of performative spectacle in and of itself. When Best Fern took the stage at Bar Robo's relaxed afternoon showcase on Thursday (February 2), their performance felt like a master class on exactly how to do this technique well.
 
The warm, almost twee sonics of their electronic palette felt almost tiny or insignificant at the beginning of each new piece they performed, but it was easy to find joy watching and listening to those sounds bloom into a fully-fledged song. There's a real risk in using loops and repeating phrases guide the direction or structure of a song, ultimately taxing out whatever ideas are unfolding through ad nauseam repetition. But while Best Fern let their loops guide their way, it's never at the expense of their songwriting; they were always in control.
 
What was really interesting was how it seemed that the loops themselves informed vocalist Alexia Avina's lyrics. Avina tends to focus in on a phrase, repeat it, warp it and cut it, and she let those simple changes help inform the meaning of her words.