It’s been just two weeks since Vancouver-based Yukon Blonde hit the road and headed East, and it’s almost a week since the band released their 6th studio release Shuggie. Ahead of the album’s release (their first since 2020’s Vindicator), the indie-synth pop outfit played 9 shows over the span of 10 days, making stops in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes (NS, NB, and PEI).
The band’s Halifax stop was the first in nearly 6 years, having last graced a Halifax stage as part of the now-defunct Halifax Pop Explosion back in 2017. This time out, Yukon Blonde was stopping by to showcase the material on the impending release of Shuggie. As nice as it would have been to revel in a Friday night show, the band showed the appreciative crowd exactly how you should Wednesday, as this was an album release show after all.
The set heavily featured the new songs which are something of a departure from the band’s earlier and better-known material. The track “Not Interested” has a slinkier sound than some of the more shimmery pop tunes such as fan-favourite “Saturday Night” (from 2015’s On Blonde), eventually devolving into an atmospheric Pink Floyd-esque atmospheric trip. Then you have the 80’s new wave vibe of “Lovers in a Crowded Room” with its synthy backdrop and breathy vocals, which is a fun track that paired nicely with the infectiously dancey ear-worm “Summer in July” (a track that you’ll be humming along to, long after hearing it).
Yukon Blonde reminded this critic exactly what it was that enamoured the band to him years ago, with a set that perfectly balanced the higher energy tunes from On Blonde and Critical Hit, to the more mature, folkier indie-pop tunes on Shuggie. There are moments on the new record (see “You Always Get What You Want”) that even have a similar vibe to another BC-based indie-pop act Fake Shark. It was a set that whipped by in the blink of an eye, and closed out with the band’s two biggest hits “Saturday Night” and “I Wanna Be Your Man”, a pair of tunes that left the wild Wednesday crowd smiling. Yukon Blonde lead singer/songwriter Jeff Innes did enthusiastically exclaim that Halifax is always a good time, but we fall just short of St. John’s, but we won’t hold that against him.
On this night, Yukon Blonde didn’t come alone. Local singer-songwriter Burry kicked off the night, performing in a 2 piece formation alongside Owen Williams (a fellow Halifax musician and member of Kids Losing Sleep) and astonished the audience with their honesty and heart-felt poppy indie-rock songs. It was a magical way to warm the room up, followed by one of the quickest changeovers I’ve witnessed before Paul Murphy strode on stage with his bandmates in the current POSTDATA configuration.
Fans of Murphy’s side-project might have looked a bit like the guy from the RCA ads of old, as this was the heaviest version of POSTDATA to hit a Halifax stage. Folks might have been expecting a more atmospheric and haunting effort, instead, Murphy and his bandmates (including Walrus’ own Jordan Murphy) proceeded to bring a bombast that felt like a merging of Murphy’s other efforts in Kary and Wintersleep, which may have melted off the faces of those in attendance. It was a fantastic set which showcased tracks from POSTDATA’s recent album Run Wild and made this writer excited to see what the future holds for this current iteration of the band.
This was precisely why you shake off the workday and head out to check a show on a mid-week Wednesday night. You get to hear new material from bands you really dig, get a chance to see an act you’ve heard great things about (Burry), and finally get a chance to see them perform live. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait 6 years to see Yukon Blonde return to the city (and hopefully we did enough to take that #1 spot from St. John’s).