Considering the backlash that bubbled up when Truro’s Rock the Hub released their initial lineup for the 2018 iteration, it’s refreshing to see the talented acts who have found themselves booked on Halifax stages as of late. The month of May has seen acts such as The Beaches, Feist, Jenn Grant, and Rose Cousins play around town, and almost two weeks ago, beloved Toronto band Weaves hit the Seahorse stage, marking a triumphant return to the city. The previous visit saw them pack the house over at the Khyber, which was quickly followed up by a late-night set in the Marquee Ballroom, and less than a year later they’ve made their way back to headline a potent triple bill which included local acts Chudi Harris and the furiously talented Like a Motorcycle. This bill packed the room with eager Haligoons ready to soak up the glittery grit and magic of headliners Jasmyn Burke and her wildly talented band Weaves.
As of late, it seems as if Chudi Harris’ name is consistently on the lips of Haligonians, creating an ever-expanding buzz around this talented musician. It was a performance I was excited to catch, as he was an artist that always seemed to elude me. He has crafted this interesting, futuristic R&B sound that has managed to fuse genres such as electro, indie-rock, and R&B, with pop underpinnings. Now, while it may sound like this is the work of one man, it’s a sound crafted from a team of 3 additional musicians, with guitarist Michael Cann, DJ Angel Marcus and Nathaniel Cole on drums, and Harris himself handling the keys, guitars and vocals. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Harris down the road, as it was a solid way to kick off the show.
While Chudi Harris set a chill tone during the opening set, Like a Motorcycle took over the stage and cranked the night up to 11 with a soul-quenching set of unrelenting punk-rock tunes. They are a band who never hit the stage and half-ass it; for the roughly 45 minute set Michelle, KT, Dave and Kim let it all hang out and rocked the room to its rafters. It was a sweaty and aggressive set that got the crowd riled up for the headliners of the night.
As it was during Halifax Pop Explosion when Weaves first hit a “stage” here in Halifax, I was only moderately aware of their music, as “Walkaway” was starting to get played on the regular at Indie 88 in Toronto, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this beloved Toronto act. I did attempt to catch their early set at the Khyber, but a bit of venue confusion prevented me from cramming into the space with a throng of fellow Haligoons. They did endear themselves to the Marquee Ballroom crowd with a delightfully colourful set, and it was a performance that I enjoyed a great deal, but it was Thursday night’s set at the Seahorse Tavern that solidified my fandom.
The Weaves HPX set was this bright, shimmering ball of energy and fun, but it didn’t have the same grit and verve as the Seahorse show. In spending some serious time spinning both Wide Open and the band’s eponymous debut, the initial chasm that seemed to exist between Like a Motorcycle and the Toronto four-piece was clearly not as vast as initially assumed. The Weaves set was taut, and built into the visceral crescendo of “Scream”, and the palpable tension in the room boiled over into a brief and unexpected mosh pit. It quickly settled down, as disdainful looks of disgust rained down from the periphery, and the shamed concert goers scurried off into the crowd.
After a wild show from The Beaches a week earlier, Weaves stormed into the Seahorse and kicked ass and took names. Jasmyn Burke controls the stage with a very low key, big smile demeanor, while over on stage left, the manic Zach Bines gleefully wields his bass much like Bill Murray wielded a Proton Pack while battling Slimer and Spectres in Ghostbusters. It was a sight to behold, and Jasmyn may have a gotten a bit too close at one point, and might bear a decent bruise as a result. Stage right featured the extremely talented and somewhat zen intricate guitar work of Morgan Waters, who just grooved along all night in this contented state of bliss. But holding down the jazzy rhythms (and impressive impromptu whistles) all night was the animated Spencer Cole. It was the union of these 4 unique musicians who come together to form the musical juggernaut that is Weaves. The set consisted largely of the band’s most recent album Wide Open, but that debut was not ignored by any extent, as some great alt pop cuts such as “Coo Coo”, “Shithole”, and “Human” all made the set-list alongside the prerequisite “Walkaway” and some pop gems such as “Law and Panda” and the slinky “Slicked”.
It was a triumphant return to Halifax, as the Seahorse dance-floor was full for Like a Motorcycle, but when Weaves hit the stage the room was jammed with folks ready to indulge in some great tunes. Considering it was a Thursday night show, it was a tremendous turnout from a city that can be a bit fairweather when it comes to shows. If you get the chance, you should leap at the opportunity to see Weaves perform live, they are exquisite.