Braids Island Stage, Guelph ON, July 25

Braids Island Stage, Guelph ON, July 25
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
Experimental Montreal-based synth-pop unit Braids are no stranger to critical acclaim, having snagged a hefty collection of Polaris Music Prize and Juno nominations since their formation three albums ago. Currently supporting this year's Deep in the Iris, the three-piece have never sounded so assured, and their live show is a shining example of their musical growth and confidence.
Each member was mesmerizing to watch, never limiting him or herself to a single musical task, be it synthesizers, drums, vocals or guitars. Drummer Austin Tufts was a marvel, furiously flailing back and forth on his drum kit, while Taylor Smith manned an array of synths and percussion for the most part, though he was ever-prepared to jump in with the guitar slung across his back.
Frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston, however, deserves special mention for her ability to effortlessly captivate a crowd. With a voice that delivered everything from angelic echoes to frantic yelps to commanding choruses, Standell-Preston didn't miss a single note as she charmed the audience with far from choreographed movements. Each member had moments of looking like a musician possessed, pushing through physical breaking points and reaching euphoric release before miraculously recharging and doing it all over again for the next song.
The set came to a too-soon close with the poignant and anthemic "Miniskirt," during which Standell-Preston locked eyes with a female fan in the front row who was singing along word-for-word. She smiled down at the young woman, looking both taken aback and proud. And regardless of whether or not the whole crowd could see the exchange, they were all left grinning back.