Living Hour Said Goodbye and Started Anew in Winnipeg

Good Will Social Club, December 9

With Jamboree

Photo: Mike Thiessen

BY Myles TiessenPublished Dec 11, 2023

A bittersweet hum of beginnings and endings rang out through Living Hour's entire performance at Winnipeg's Good Will Social Club.

The band's first local show in over a year was flooded with new material, showcasing an audacious new creative direction of impressively bombastic music. The regrettable dichotomy of the lively, electric evening was that it was also, sadly, their last performance in the beloved Winnipeg venue.

The Good Will Social Club, which has been the cultural hub of Winnipeg's indie music scene for the past ten years, recently announced its closure at the end of January. The Good Will has been a favourite for many working musicians in the city as countless artists tested their chops, built loyal fan bases, and found community within the small scene. 

Every music fan holds dear the particulars of the venue they love the most. They know how sound bounces off the walls, the way certain bass tones will rattle the snare, which line at the bar will be the quickest, and probably a few tricks for getting into the odd show for free. The Good Will's closure will undoubtedly leave a hole in the city's roster of venues, but perhaps more importantly, the hearts of the people who found a network of kinship there. 

For Living Hour, those ten years capture the band's entire career. The Good Will has always been a home base for the band after studio time or extended tours, a place to return to their roots and to freely morph in any creative direction in front of faithful fans.

Saturday's receptive crowd pushed to the front of the stage as the speakers started blasting some heavy industrial house before Living Hour even stepped on stage, with some fans clamouring onto the large wooden tables and chairs pushed to the side of the house for a better view of the band. As Living Hour walked on in stark darkness, the wave of cheering muffled the thundering electronic music, and the band started playing with equally raucous vitality. 

With this show, their shoegaze-inspired indie rock was colossal in its dynamism, colliding in a wall of grunge and folk balladry. It shook off the slowcore inspirations of their earlier work in favour of a kaleidoscopic foray into noise pop.

The infinitely echoing abrasion of their instruments reflected the plaintive vocals and raw humanity found in their lyrics. Living Hour sang with the assurance that their words would forever be etched into the chorus of humanity — the confidence, ease and small creative liberties taken made for a completely enrapturing performance. 

While their new songs are fiery, catchy and imbued with emotional novelty, it was nice to hear some older material too. They took their time with the still-enduring echoes and feedback as each member tuned before the complete sonic ignition of "Feelings Meeting." The frantic crowd couldn't contain their excitement, and, just like a gas under heat and pressure, the kinetic energy bounced around the small venue, striking the walls with more and more force until a unified detonation. 

While things child out from time to time and the crowd's energy slowed, you never got the sense that the audience felt too awkward to move. During the contemplative "Curve," the music moved through the congregation like a spectre, resonating with each individual in some brilliant personal way. 

As their set came to a close, it became clear that Living Hour's music was designed for this venue. It's impossible to articulate just how exactly the Good Will — with its low ceilings, twinkling Christmas lights, disco ball and intimate composition — has influenced the band's sound over the years. Like the mid-sized venue, their music is confidential and familiar, yet ever-evolving and exhilarating; not limited to its size and scope, but embracing and moving within it. 

"It's good to sing and be in the room with you all. It's not going to be much longer," sadly conceded lead vocalist Sam Sarty, who donned a worn-out camouflage hat dipped low over her eyes. Most artists and fans will miss the Good Will, but like losing the dearest part of you, Living Hour will grieve it. 

Latest Coverage