Angus & Julia Stone Stawamus Stage, Squamish BC, August 7
Published Aug 08, 2015Australian sibling folk act Angus and Julia Stone had a little trouble early on, as sound problems seemed to culminate in the system cutting out entirely mid-jam during their Black Mountain-esque opening track "It Was Blue." For a moment, it looked as though the bad luck would continue when one of the crowd's bouncing beach balls hit the drum kit at the beginning of their second track, but drummer Daniel Farrugia just smiled, and everything seemed to sort itself out after that.
The Stone siblings were fleshed out live by a four piece backing band, adding a rhythm section, keys and the lap steel, banjo and guitar of the spectacularly bearded ginger, Ben Edgar. Often, when you see big bands perform live, their arrangements end up sounding muddled, but, despite their numbers, Angus and Julia Stone were mindful of space and texture, as when Edgar strummed madly on guitar for a kind of raga intro to "Heart Beats Slow."
With a world-weary alt-country rasp somewhere between Neko Case and Anaïs Mitchell, Julia swooned and swayed, embodying the lyrics as her lilting vocals smoothed out life's worries in her solo track "It's All Okay." Her voice seemed to get away from her a bit in "Death Defying Acts," as she growled the lyric "nothing at all" like a death metal singer, but it fit the trip-hop-tinged country ballad.
Angus held his own, too, with a voice in the vein of Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon) and John Fogerty (CCR), but he may have dampened enthusiasm when he noted how beautiful the drive up to Squamish was, then qualified it by saying it was no Australia.