Although the mellow atmosphere at Sala Rossa on Tuesday night could have easily been misjudged as a lack of interest, Toronto-based group The Wooden Sky put on a lively and unique concert with the help of their opening act, Yukon Blonde.
The Wooden Sky was established in 2007 and have been touring throughout North America and Europe for the past year and a half to promote their second album, If I Don’t Come Home, You’ll Know I’m Gone.
The four-piece includes Gavin Gardiner (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Andrew Wyatt (bass, vocals), Simon Walker (piano, vocals, guitar), and Andrew Kekewich (drums). They have been known to join forces with members of other Ontario-based indie bands such as Timber Timbre, Forest City Lovers and Ohbijou. Unfortunately, Tuesday night’s set did not feature such collaborations.
Once The Wooden Sky came on stage it became obvious that the band considered Yukon Blonde to be both talented musicians and close friends. Gardiner mentioned that they had been touring with Yukon Blonde for, “…pretty much our whole lives.” He thanked the Vancouver-based group at various points during the concert and encouraged the audience to purchase their self-titled debut album.
The Wooden Sky’s otherwise mellow tunes were amped up for their live performance. Their long and dreamy guitar solos worked nicely with their overall country-rock sound. Gardiner’s vocals were off-key at many points during their set, but these were not extended and could therefore be permissibly brushed off as live bursts of passion.
The band had a mediocre stage presence which was obvious when observing the crowd’s demeanour. The musicians sported serious and concentrated faces only to crack weak smiles at certain points during their more upbeat songs. Consequently, distant faces were reflected in the crowd. The audience gazed toward the stage as if attentive but unmoved.
It seemed as though the show-goers had been expecting a more laidback set because both Yukon Blonde and The Wooden Sky made various failed attempts at upping the crowd’s enthusiasm. Band members would clap at certain points of a song but the trend only spread to the first few rows of people who were standing directly in front of the stage.
However this is not to say that the show was a letdown. In fact, the night was full of surprises. Kekewich and Walker joined Yukon Blonde on stage for one song by enthusiastically shaking tambourines and dancing, adding a fun and engaging touch to the opening act, whom the majority of the crowd appeared to not recognize.
As The Wooden Sky disappeared behind the red velvet backdrop of the stage, the crowd stomped and cheered for an encore. A much-needed boost of energy came from two members of Yukon Blonde joining The Wooden Sky on stage for their final song as extra percussionists.
People quickly dispersed after the encore as Gardiner announced that a surprise acoustic performance would be taking place in the stairs almost directly following the set. The convivial, impromptu encore turned out to be the highlight of the night; it lent the show a feeling of intimacy that their fans appeared to have been craving, and featured a different array of instruments: Wyatt rocked a banjo while Gardiner busted out a harmonica.
Yukon Blonde joined in this time with beers in hand, creating a friendly jam-session vibe which felt far more appropriate and familiar considering both The Wooden Sky’s sound and their reputation for collaborating with various musicians.