Bernice Drake Hotel, Toronto ON, June 17

Bernice Drake Hotel, Toronto ON, June 17
Photo: Calum Slingerland
Keeping her stage banter brief at first, it took the crowd a bit of time to warm up to Robin Dann and local indie R&B group Bernice, but that all changed in a matter of minutes when they began their spellbinding set. Capturing the audience's attention first and foremost was Dann's stunning vocal work, which was strongly rooted in jazz music.
Briefly mentioning the inspirations behind her lyrics before each song (everything from airplanes to types of fruit) she was backed by an equally interesting group of musicians that included Toronto scene mainstay Thom Gill, who was seated in the centre of the stage handling backing vocals, a sampler and a keyboard.
The band members explored a number of different approaches to tone and texture, backed by the booming bass guitar of Dan Fortin. Drummer Phil Melanson kept time in the corner of the stage with an electronic trigger pad, switching drum tones every so often, while the pedals that Colin Fisher ran his guitar through produced sounds that one might not think could come from a six-string. The results were effective in backing Dann and keeping the crowd engaged.