It has been a little over a week since Dear Rouge rolled intothe Seahorse Tavern w/ Modern Space and Natalie Lynn in tow. The Vancouver duo of Danielle and Drew McTaggart were in town as part of their latest tour, supporting “Phases”, the band’s second full-length effort. Drew and Danielle are no strangers to these parts, having played the 2016 Canada Day show at Alderney Landing, and co-headlined an evening at Halifax Pop Explosion in 2015 with July Talk.
Kicking off the night was local singer-songwriter Natalie Lynn, who was showcasing her new amped-up sound. The new direction Lynn has embarked upon is a departure from her previous pop-infused folk sound, and to aid her departure she built herself a stellar supporting cast: Cassie Mann on Bass, Katelyn Bonomo on Guitar, and Ryan Perry on Drums, a band that will certainly help Natalie bolster that new rockier, more up-tempo sound. The singer-songwriter and her band launched into a confident and well-polished set, establishing a high bar for the rest of the evening. Having been fortunate enough to catch Natalie performing in her previous incarnations, this was an interesting and vibrant performance which would be well suited to play alongside a band such as The Beaches.
Then it was time for Toronto five-piece Modern Space to hit the stage. The pop-infused alt-rockers were making a relatively quick return to these parts, after opening Live 105’s Spring Fling in advance of The Standstills and The Lazys earlier this year. While the courtyard at the Keith’s Brewery wasn’t an ideal setting for the band’s retro-tinged sound, the Seahorse Tavern was far more conducive to the band’s sound, albeit a bit cozier than the Keith’s stage. The band ripped through a number of tunes from their new album Flip For It (including the infectious title track), as well as their well-known single “Pen to Paper”, and the tunes had the crowd grooving and well-prepped for the evening’s headlining act. Modern Space is an up-and-coming act with some catchy tunes, look forward to seeing them out this way in the future.
Then it was finally time to cut down the cramped confines of the gear jungle that had overtaken the Seahorse Stage, in preparation for Dear Rouge’s set. As I previously mentioned, the band is no stranger to these parts, and while it seemed a bit unusual for them to be booked in at the more intimate of the two stages in the Seahorse/Marquee complex (after having played some of the bigger stages in town), it was a room that lent itself to making the night even more memorable. When Drew, Danielle and their tour mates hit the stage, it was awash in sound, colour and texture. If you’re unfamiliar with the Vancouver band’s material, it is what I would consider to be a somewhere between Metric’s indie sound and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s electro-rock vibe with a healthy pop backbone; it’s a show that kept the crowd moving.
Now, for anyone who has set foot into the Seahorse, it’s not a massive space by any means, even with its healthy dance floor, but last Friday night Danielle and Drew held nothing back and put on a show that would have felt completely at home on a much larger stage. The lights, the music, and the energy in that room last Friday was palpable, and threatened to rip the room apart at the seams. Drew held down his post over at stage right, while Danielle commanded centre stage with her beaming smile, perpetual motion, and her white mic cable, which she wielded much like Wonder Woman wields her lasso. The set was built around Phases, but featured many of the band’s best-known tracks such as “Black to Gold”, “I Heard I Had”, and “Tongues”.
On this night, the concert-going alchemy was a perfect mix of band, venue and crowd. The bond between artist and fan was undeniable, as Dear Rouge was fueled heavily from the love and admiration being provided from the energetic Halifax crowd. It was certainly reciprocal, as those in attendance opened their arms wide and welcomed the Vancouver band in. When they return to town, you owe it to yourself to check the band out. Come back soon!