There's nothing like a makeshift concert venue to separate great bands from the posers — to figure out which performers need the lights and the heightened stage and all the faux authority it brings, and which ones can command a space even if that space itself doesn't listen to commands very well.
All of which is to say that, sure, in the Khyber's space, a white, gallery-like room, a band like Weaves are going to spend more time talking and asking about sound and monitors than they would on a stage like the Marquee, where they would also perform later Friday night (October 20). But the band's magnetic power was even more pronounced without all the typical rock show accoutrements, at standing level with the 50-person crowd gathered for the free, all-ages show.
Weaves' 11-song set was an exquisite distillation of why, in just a couple of years, they've become one of Canada's most exciting bands. From the opening notes from "#53," Jasmyn Burke's quiet intensity and confident vocal command captivated the crowd. The band's ability to twist tempos — like in an ear-shattering take on "Scream" — meshed perfectly with their pop sensibilities, making songs like "Slicked" and "One More" burst with energy.
I managed to also catch some of Weaves' set later in the night at the Marquee — the band were great there too, maybe a bit more theatrical. But like at most bar shows, I found myself distracted by the crowd's din, the small conversations, the hustle-bustle games that, especially at a festival like Pop Explosion, are everywhere. At the Khyber, it was just the band and its music — and it soared.