Mother Mother are no strangers to performing on a Halifax stage, as they have been visiting the East Coast since 2007, when they played the Halifax Pop Explosion. In 2009, the band played the role of opener for Matthew Good, and played the Cunard Centre when the tour rolled into town. A little more than two years ago, the Guldemond siblings and company made their way back, headlined the Halifax Forum MPC, and invited USS along as their supporting act. Fresh on the heels of the release of their latest album No Culture, the band once again brought their intense and electric folk-infused alt-rock sound back to the East Coast for a pair of Halifax dates, the first taking place on this past Friday.
Before the band took to the stage on Friday evening, the Marquee was rapidly filling up with an appreciative and markedly younger twenty-something crowd. As soon as the lights dimmed, the roar went up when the striking pair of Molly and Ryan Guldemond, along with Jasmin Parkin, Ali Siadat and Mike Young, strode on stage and proceeded to launch into “Reaper Man” from 2014’s Very Good Bad Things. From there the show was off and running. Unlike many other Canadian Rock acts they did not shy away from their early work, as 2008’s O My Heart figured heavily into the Friday set-list and the band played “Wrecking Ball”, “Hayloft” and title track “O My Heart” from that album. Those early tracks were lodged between a potent onslaught of well-known singles “Bit by Bit”, “Let’s Fall in Love”, “Get Out of the Way” and “Monkey Tree”. It was a set that appealed to both casual fans and the hard-cores alike.
The band has grown by leaps and bounds since I first saw them perform back in 2008. I walked into that Matt Good show not knowing who was opening up, and was perplexed at what I was seeing, and tried to align that with what my ears were hearing. While Ryan’s vocals cover a wide range of sounds, it’s his higher falsetto register that fuses his vocals with that of both Jasmin and Molly, and creates this alluring harmony that just lures you in. It’s almost a contradiction: with his chiselled visage and towering stature, you would expect this much louder sound to emanate from him. It might have also been the fact that the band’s sound back then was much more alt-folk, indie rock.
Mother Mother’s recent handful of albums (Eureka, The Sticks, Very Good Bad Things and now No Culture) has seen the band evolve from that indie folk-rock band, into one of the most exciting rock bands in the country. The band’s live show is a potent force of high energy rock, and the band still manages to find ways to surprise those in attendance; as on Friday night when the band was playing ”Hayloft” and chose to hop on the off-ramp into a solid cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused”, which saw Jasmin take the lead on vocals and tear the place down with her performance. If you were unfortunate enough to miss both of the Vancouver band’s sets, ensure you’re in the room next time they come to town, as they are a band not to miss.
I would also be remiss not to mention the other Vancouver band on the bill, We Are the City. This BC three-piece were energetic and passionate about their progressive industrial-pop sound. Cayne MacKenzie, Andy Huculiak, and David Menzel did a great job of warming the room up in preparation for the evening’s headliners. Backed by savage work on the skins by Huculiak (think Animal on a Red Bull bender), the band did an exceptional job in firing the room up. While their sound wasn’t exactly something I would normally listen to, I felt the same way about Mother Mother when I first saw them and now I’m a huge fan. I look forward to seeing where these lads take their sound.