The Whitsundays The ARTery, Edmonton AB February 8

The Whitsundays The ARTery, Edmonton AB February 8
A preface: Paul Arnusch is smartly dressed in black, waiting on stage with the Faunts in front of every geek in town at Video Games Live. The Jubilee Auditorium orchestra is winding down. The brass was playing the theme song to some made-in-Edmonton software called Mass Effect, which cleverly ends with an uplifting Faunts song that’s at least one part rocket fuel. Suddenly it’s the little band’s turn to add this single moment of hipster cred to a chattering, nerd-filled concert hall, which smells of fast food skin. It’s an intriguing moment. As they play the tingly "M4 Part II” in the big room, it’s at the height of their powers so far — a basement-band-gone-international’s homecoming ceremony. But Arnusch never sits still, and there’s a funny contrast here: Just a couple weeks before, in a small art gallery on the edge of frozen downtown, we saw for the first time his new project assembling, the Whitsundays. Unlike the sometimes-noodly vibe of the Floor or the Faunts, the Whitsundays are a tight throwback to semi-psychedelic ’60s pop, part Zombies, part Turtles, part Magnetic Fields. Lots of confused songs about the behaviour of girls. With his group of A-list Edmonton touring band superstars, Arnsuch lowers his sax and looks around with expectation and pride as the dreamy, harmony-heavy songs he played almost solo on the debut CD begin to flower live, expanding roughly yet beautifully. On bass is Lyle Bell, he and drummer Clint Frazier borrowed from Shout Out Out Out Out, showing remarkable restraint. Bell is also in the Wet Secrets, as is Doug Organ playing keys. Aaron Parker and Nick Johnson play guitars on stage left, and as the night of pretty whispers wears on, the lads begin to bump into each other like rutting unicorns — they’re grinning but they also want to win the match. Drinks spilling off the stage, Arnusch face down on the floor laughing, it’s at this point the Whitsundays become real to us, and the line between the band and the dancing gallery crowd vanishes. We can all personally vouch for them now: there’s a party to be had amid this lyrical delicacy.