While we’re still feeling the freeze across most of Canada (now would be a great time to not speak up, Vancouver), the music scene is starting to heat up. As bands begin touring again, we get great lineups like Friday’s at Hell’s Kitchen in Halifax. Though the room was cold (like physically freezing — this writer snuggled in the bathroom next to the radiator between sets), the bands were worth the chill.
Magnolia opened the night. The hometown duo started late in front of a small crowd. Their jazzy folk was as good pared down to the two of them as it was amped up with full band at the Mixtape launch. They’re touring Ontario this month and they’ve got a great Beach Boys cover up their sleeve for audiences there.
Jon Mckiel‘s set was the night’s highlight with an audience was clearly excited for his set. He drew the highest energy and the most standers (which is a measurement of some kind). Joined by Jay Crocker (Ghostkeeper) on guitar, Mark Grundy (Heaven For Real, Quaker Parents) on bass and Aaron Mangle (Cousins) on drums, the set was tight and dynamic. Mckiel’s music and talented band left room for a sense of play to come through clearly, and left the crowd on a high.
Julie Doiron is such a professional that any show of hers will be worth the price of admission. So comfortable now with gigging and touring, she opened her set up to the audience for requests and she played a couple of them. But even as a professional, her set suffered due to some rowdy hecklers who were obnoxious enough for long enough that they bear mentioning. They derailed Doiron, interrupting her flow. She seemed somewhat thrown, spending a lot of time talking between songs. But as a Doiron fan, the stories were charming; she isn’t one to hide much while on the stage. From what she gave up for Lent (chips) to what food she had on her shirt (bananas and baby food, courtesy of her 7-month-old daughter, Elsie), she opened up to the crowd. We shouldn’t take her for granted — she said when she had her daughter, she thought about quitting the road game: “When I got pregnant it was like, ‘WOOHOO! I never have to play another show again!'” she said. But ultimately she couldn’t stay away. “I felt like I really needed to re-evaluate what I wanted to do and what I wanted out of (playing shows),” she said, and seemed pleased to be back at it.
Photo/videos: Evelyn Hornbeck/Mixtape