Published Nov 21, 2011Newly formed Vancouver band Hallow Moon started off with a surprisingly spirited yet unwieldy set of '70s throwback classic rock in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Band, but without the casual perfection of the former or the rich vocal harmonies of the latter. There is a something to Hallow Moon, though, with the quartet giving just enough jangle in the guitars, dressing the part and portraying the right kind of laid-back stoner vibe.
Toronto transplant Daniela Gesundheit and partner in crime Dan Goldman, together known as Snowblink, took it down a notch with their set. In fact, Goldman sat down the entire time, rendering himself invisible to most of the crowd, but he said he didn't mind that so much. Naturally, Snowblink have a somewhat sparse sound, playing into their low-key country-tinged folk songwriting, but they used timely dynamics and Gesundheit's stunningly sonorous vocals to great effect, her antler-clad axe adding to the campfire theatrics of it all. Their Bruce Springsteen cover was dripping with more sass than the Boss ever had.
Ohbijou braved a vicious snowstorm and a cunning border guard to barely make their set, but it didn't affect their performance. The Toronto group played as clean as any band this side of Broken Social Scene would, with almost studio-like perfection. However, one of the giveaways that this was, indeed, a live show was the sound of the violin and cello, whose timbre really sang in person.
Casey Mecija is clearly the focus of Ohbijou's sound, grudgingly dubbed orchestral rock in her story about the border. She has one of the most distinctive singing voices in Canada, incanting cute bombs on the mic as if she was handing out puppies with bows on their heads. She swayed meaningfully to the beat whenever she wasn't singing, lost in the music with her guitar, and climbed the bass cabinet in front of the stage for a song when she put the guitar down. Yet, Mecija doesn't ham it up for the crowd's attention. Just by being her, she draws the viewer in.
With a six-piece touring band, all of whom played almost constantly, Ohbijou's swollen lush pop contrasted the openness of Snowblink. Where Snowblink was a patchy wool blanket knitted by your loving grandmother, Ohbijou was a down-filled duvet smothering you with warmth. But both have their place, and they work well together.