Islands at Habitat

Montreal’s Islands played an hour-long set at Habitat last night, supported by Idiot Glee.

Kentucky’s Idiot Glee, aka James Friley, warmed up the crowd with his brooding lo-fi brand of synth-pop. Accompanied on stage only by several keyboards, he gave a confident yet introspective account of himself. He never seemed too concerned with the chattering crowd in front of him, his distorted, emotional vocals evoking the feel of an eavesdropped bedroom recording. Friley capped off his set with an imaginative cover of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t no sunshine” before leaving the stage in anticipation of the main act. Idiot Glee is touring with Islands on a near-thiry-date North American tour that will end in a couple weeks time.

Islands shortly graced the stage, made up of frontman Nick Thorburn (formerly of The Unicorns) and his band: Guelph, Ontario brothers Geordie and Evan Gordon and drummer Luc Laurent.

The band chose to open with the ironically titled “This is not a song” (it is, in fact…), and followed up with several of A sleep and a forgetting‘s more downbeat numbers. Frustrated with the crowd’s lack of patience for the opening’s quieter moments, Thorburn made a request for silence which could be construed as either polite or pompous, depending on your views.

At any rate, this, combined with a slight increase in volume a few minutes later did seem to catch the Habitat crowd’s attention, and Islands flew headlong into many of the new album’s less subtle numbers such as “I can’t feel my face” and “Hallways”, as well as some hits from past albums such as “Creeper” from 2009’s Vapours. This energetic turn hit its peak during a fabulous visit to 2006’s Return to the sea, in the form of the many-faceted, epic “Swans”.

Having left the stage after an hour-long set, the band was cheered on for an encore by a public that finally seemed to have caught on. They returned with an oldie: Return to the sea‘s “Where there’s a will there’s a whalebone” before exiting the stage with little fanfare, for the final time.

All in all, it was a fun night, with Islands showcasing the breadth of their sound and giving Kelownans a great excuse to get out on a Wednesday night to see one of Canada’s most exciting and quirky pop bands.

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