You've Changed Records' Fifth Anniversary Showcase with Daniel Romano, Shotgun Jimmie and the Weather Station Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, May 22

You've Changed Records' Fifth Anniversary Showcase with Daniel Romano, Shotgun Jimmie and the Weather Station Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, May 22
Photo: Stephen McGill
After a short solo acoustic set from folk-punk Richard Laviolette and a quick introduction from the evening's master of ceremonies/multi-instrumentalist/source of endless enthusiasm Ross Miller, Baby Eagle — the musical alias of Constantines member and You've Changed mastermind Steve Lambke — took to the stage with the Weather Station's Tamara Lindeman and Marine Dreams frontman Ian Kehoe. Opening with the subtle ballad "Old Punks" from Baby Eagle's 2012 album Bone Soldiers, the band immediately broke out new material. Two songs, "Dead Stones" and "Hummingbird," were flawless, with Lindeman's soft coos and finger-picked guitar hovering under Lambke's raspy vocals. The brief set closed with a performance of "Mule in the Flowers," a highlight from the Weather Station duet series, and a perfect way to close their set before the evening carried forth.

Marine Dreams electrified the stage, opening with "Fold the Sky" from their self-titled record before managing to represent every release in their catalogue over their short performance. From their new album Lemon Tree, which dropped at the show, was "Constant Love," one of Kehoe's previously-unreleased songs, complete with a bouncing bass line and sliding guitars. The followed it with a harmony-drenched "How Can I Be So Misunderstood," from last year's Corner of the Eye. The band closed with "Painted Toes," their first single that only exists as a video featuring a half-naked Spencer Burton (Grey Kingdom, Attack in Black), wandering through the woods wielding a very large sword. It was an unexpected choice, but a very welcome one.

After a quick break, the Weather Station arrived on stage, complete with lap steel, two backup singers and Bahamas' Afie Jurvanen on drums and lead guitar. With an album on the way, the band focused mostly on new songs, all heartbreakingly beautiful with slides and three-part harmonies wrapping themselves into perfect folk ballads. The two more recognizable songs, "Everything I Saw" and "Nobody," off their 2012 record All Of It Was Mine, were executed with grace and subtlety. Lindeman's delicate voice and flawless pitch acted as the centrepiece to the set, which remained confident and strong even when Lindeman struggled to make banter between songs.

The night's surprise was a performance by label co-founder and mosey king Daniel Romano. A sizeable band joined him on stage to play a series of tracks from his last two records, Sleep Beneath the Willow and Come Cry with Me, including an uptempo rendition of their old-school folk tune "Paul and Jon" and fusing "Where No One Else Will Find It" and "Two Pillow Sleeper" into one heartbroken country smash. Romano and the rest of the band said little between each rootsy jam, but if you looked carefully, you could see a grin flash across Romano's face as he played distorted licks on his leather-clad Telecaster.

After midnight, lo-fi indie rockers Shotgun Jimmie graced the stage to close the night. The band's set focused mostly on their freshly reissued Transistor Sister album, throwing in a Guided by Voices cover as well, but as their set ended, Shotgun mastermind Jim Kilpatrick called up Daniel Romano to join him on guitar to cover a tune from You've Changed's long-disbanded Attack in Black. The band tore into the crushing Curve of the Earth track "You're Such An Only Child," paying well-deserved homage to one of the bands that made the label possible five years ago.

In one evening and six acts, the show took attendees through five rich years of You've Changed history. From old singles to new and unfinished works, the concert encapsulated everything You've Changed has to offer, from quiet folk duets to high-energy indie rock, but exemplified a little more: it showed that You've Changed is less of a record label and more of a guild in which a close-knit group of friends (who all happen to be very talented) can get together, collaborate creatively and offer their craft to the rest of the world. The showcase was an opportunity for outsiders to take a trip inside and see what You've Changed is all about, drink it all in with a beer. The night wasn't without a quirk or two, from missing capos to temperamental amps, but the charm and passion the artists all share shone through, beautiful as the music itself.