The Habitat is Where it’s At: The Dudes

There’s no better place to be on a Wednesday night other than The Habitat, drenched in its black lights and swallowed up in a swarm of excited, energetic party people looking to unwind at the weeks midway. The venue had been drastically improved from what I remembered just two months back with incredibly flashy stage lighting, new bar counters, and what it sounded like to me – better sound.

The aesthetically appealing but vision impairing and divisive curtains that once hung between the tables were removed, which I was thankful for, and instead a curtain was erected between the stage area and sitting area that was pulled completely back when the show began. The place had a fancy new vibe to it, but the only change that I didn’t welcome was the merchandise table being moved to a dark corner by the stage instead of where it used to be, a well-lit counter on the way out that was converted to a second bar instead. When I went to peruse the table I had to fight my way through the entire mob of people on the dance floor, and when I finally arrived it was too dark for me to see anything they were selling. But I digress. This was one of the best shows I’ve been to at The Habitat, the energy and excitement of the crowd was amazing.

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The show opened up with Vancouver indie rock band The Zolas. In a way this show brought a segment of my life full circle, because when I first came to The Habitat as a teenager in 2009 before they acquired their full liquor license I remembered seeing their name up in lights with the likes of Hey Ocean and Said the Whale. I missed that show, but always had a curious desire to see them since. I figured this night was my chance. Add the two extra hours it took for the show to finally start, and it was all still worth it. I’ve seen bands break the barriers between them and the crowds many times before, but none were so daring or memorable as when lead vocalist/guitarist and original founding member Zachary Gray climbed off the stage carried his mic stand and guitar through the crowd to stand and perform amongst the people.

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Like me, most people had come to the see The Zolas, and had no idea what to expect when The Dudes were to come on stage. Suffice to say, they did not disappoint and ruled over everyone as the headliners of this show. These guys rocked hard (of course they did, they’re from Calgary, the Rock Central of Western Canada) and it was clear they were enjoying themselves and had a genuine compassion for Kelowna and its residents. Much respect in return to you, The Dudes.

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Lead man Dan Vacon, with his killer beard, was fun to watch perform as he was very articulate and expressive with his gestures and had phenomenal control over his music as he interacted and took risks with it. I haven’t seen someone perform with such confidence in a long time. From filling in spaces in the music with crowd participation to improvising solos and lyrics, one was always wondering what to expect next. These guys were legitimate and skipped all the nonsense. No phony encores here, folks.  Just straight up entertainment and fun until it was time to pack it in and call it a night.

On a side note: I thought I recognized the bassist’s illustrious chops. Turns out he was in fact Brock Geiger, frontman for Raleigh, another Calgary band, whom I saw perform at the Streaming Café here in Kelowna last winter.

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If you’re like me and hadn’t heard of The Dudes before, make sure to check them out on their BandCamp. Or better yet, go to one of their shows and check them out live. They will blow you away.

And while you’re at it, check out the talented Vancouver act The Zolas as well.


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