The Wooden Sky / Yukon Blonde Lee's Palace, Toronto ON November 6

The Wooden Sky / Yukon Blonde Lee's Palace, Toronto ON November 6
The last night on tour is always the sweetest. The bands are more relaxed, their display of love for each other is verbalized on stage at every available moment, and everyone wants to have as much fun as possible before they part ways. As the Wooden Sky ended their Canadian tour with Yukon Blonde and openers These United States, the crowd at Lee's Palace benefited, to great delight, from the end-of-tour send-off.

Instead of a reserved audience quietly head-bobbing to the Wooden Sky's contemplative alt-country offerings, they picked up on the band's energy. All four members were engaged -- lead singer Gavin Gardiner howling as passionately as ever; bassist Andrew Wyatt shaking with every note played and assisting on the melodica, which he threw into the crowd when he was done with it; Simon Walker effortlessly moving from guitar to piano; and drummer Andrew Kekewich, hidden behind Gardiner's towering presence, but lively as he drove the songs to greater intensity than their album versions.

"(Bit Part)," "My Old Ghosts" and "The Bird Has Flown" not only highlighted the set, but showcased how versatile the band is, moving seamlessly from moody, introspective tracks to piano-driven country-influenced songs, with nothing sounding out of place. The climax came when the Wooden Sky invited Yukon Blonde and friends to join them onstage for a stirring performance of "Something Hiding for Us in the Night." Everyone came armed with drums, using everything from drum sticks to beer bottles to keep the beat. As the song built, the percussion raised in intensity matching Gardiner's aggressive voice that somehow kept reaching back to find another level of force and urgency.

Instead of the typical elongated encore, Gardiner invited everyone outside for a short acoustic performance. Crowded in the back alley, hundreds pack around the band and sang along to "Oh My God (It Still Means a Lot to Me)." After their second song, he apparently couldn't handle the cramped back alley. "Fuck it, to the street!" he yelled. Everyone followed him to the front as he ran into the middle of the street, playing and singing. With the entire road blocked off -- taxi cabs honking incessantly -- the crowd clapped along as Gardiner lead everyone in a moment of blissful mischief. There couldn't have been a more entertaining ending to the night -- for both the band and the audience.