Published Apr 03, 2009The airy openness of church/hall settings is totally underrated. No booze means no bumbling idiots shouting profanities. Pew-style seating requires squishing together and making friends instead of staring each other down through oversized glasses. And the vaulted ceilings make for a gleeful organic sound that echoes off the walls and into your soul.
This is the sort of atmosphere the St. James Community Square provided when it welcomed Kate Maki and the Great Lake Swimmers. Not only did it encourage fans to actually pay attention instead of rooting through their pockets for change, but it also proved conducive to the musicians' gentle melodies.
Kate Maki entertained the audience for the entirety of her set. Witticisms about being a teacher by day and musician by night kept the audience smiling. Her performance of single "Blue Monday" was a hit, and could probably be thanked for the number of vinyl records she sold that night.
When Great Lake Swimmers took the tiny wooden stage, the audience was already caught in the intimacy Maki had created. They dove right into their set, kicking things off with "Let's Trade Skins." Again, stillness prevailed, and while no one was necessarily screaming "Hallelujah," the steady head nods confirmed each listener was singing a silent praise for one of the most amazing live acts to tour this year. The Swimmers sang songs from 2005's Bodies And Minds, 2007's
The audience loved the classics like "Changing Colours" and "Your Rocky Spine." But most intriguing was the sound of freshly brewed songs off Lost Channels. Lead singer and guitarist Tony Dekker explained "Concrete Heart" was about Toronto's architecture between the 1950s and '70s. "The Chorus And The Underground" was a tribute to the now-defunct band A Northern Chorus. And "She Comes To Me In Dreams" was about late-night visitations.
But the most memorable performance was of the album's first single "Pulling On A Line," which tugged at everyone's sober little tongues and led them humming into the crisp spring night.