Posts by Drew Pihlainen

Stone Iris at O’Flannigans

Edmonton-based Stone Iris Played an energetic set last night at O’Flannigans in support of their new EP, Illuminations. After kicking off with the folksy “Shalala”, the band moved on to some newer, funkier numbers. They consistently impressed with their range of style, moving seamlessly from folk to rock, blues to funk and back again.

By the second song in their set, they already had a healthy crowd gathered in front of the stage, dancing and singing along. The casual setting belied the tightness of a group that is obviously used to playing together, trading off solos and vocals with ease. Combined with a couple of beers, it was a perfect soundtrack to a cool, early-summer night in Kelowna.

The band continues their Western Canadian tour tonight in Prince George before returning to their home province of Alberta for dates in Hinton, Red Deer, Canmore, and Calgary. They’ll be home for a month before embarking on another North American tour which will take them through Western Canada, and across to Florida. If you missed them this time around, watch out for them in July.

Bahamas at Habitat

Toronto’s Bahamas played at the Habitat last night to a highly receptive Kelowna crowd who were immediately won over by his catchy, laid-back and creative brand of rock. Opening act, Vancouver’s Wake Owl provided a welcome acoustic counterpoint and warmed up the mostly still-seated crowd with their soulful indie folk.

Bahamas is the stage name of Afie Jurvanen, a toronto singer-songwriter who has performed with numerous canadian acts over the years, including Feist. His current tour, in support of his recent album “Barchords”, will take him across North America to the UK and Australia by June.

Jurvonen seems like a man who was born to perform. His stage presence and effortless mastery of his guitar held the crowd’s attention for the duration of his hour-and-a-half long set. He was particularly vocal in his appreciation for the hardy souls that had turned out for a late show on a wednesday night, and showered the audience with praise. That praise was gleefully reciprocated. Never crowd-shy, Bahamas even seized an opportunity to teach the audience a little something about concert etiquette when, halfway through, he grabbed a phone from a woman in the front row (see photo below). He played off the moment brilliantly, taking what might otherwise have come off as an abrasive act and carefully weaving it into the rapport between performer and fan. He mused about putting his number into the device and made a few playful jokes about “sexting” before getting right back into his groove without missing a beat. He was on: a broadly-smiling miscreant breaking down the fourth wall with a wrecking ball of bonhomie.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Bahamas: his single “Caught Me Thinking” can be overheard in coffeeshops and bars across the country. He certainly didn’t disappoint Kelowna. Was it the catchy melodies? The sequined backup singers? Or his devil-may-care charm? Probably all of the above. The two-song encore won’t have been enough to satisfy, but this tale of requited love should have a happy ending, as the performer seemed enthused about the prospect of returning to the Okanagan, vowing to coming back.

If and when he does return, he and his entourage will be welcomed with open arms, as they provided Kelowna with one of its best shows so far this year.

Thanks, Bahamas: hope to see you again soon.


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.