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Concert Review: Wintersleep

05-Oct-2008 10:00 am Contributed by: pete Concert Reviews
Phoenix in Toronto, Ontario
Photos and Review by: Pete Nema
The Wooden Sky
October 1, 2008
Full Photo Set (15 photos)

In January of this year, Wintersleep turned me from a casual listener into a fan with just one show. It wasn't a jaw-dropping performance, but it was amazingly solid and the style in which they played was unexpected to someone like me who only really knew them for Weighty Ghost. I also saw them perform at Virgin Festival recently, and now here they are again, playing to what looked like a sold-out crowd at the Phoenix. The thing is, sometimes it can be difficult to write something new about a band you've already seen a couple of times, so instead I'm going to ramble on about something I was thinking at the Wintersleep concert, which I suppose can be considered a review of sorts. (Not really, but just play along, okay?)


As I was photographing Wintersleep this time around, something I wrote about them back in January popped into my head. It was the bit about Loel Campbell (drums) and his Animal-style abuse of the drum kit. You see, at Phoenix, the height of the stage and the position of the monitor speakers makes it difficult to get a clean shot of the drummer, especially with a packed house. But Campbell kept showing up in the corner of my camera's viewfinder, just taking it all out on his drum kit (see the lead photo for an example). He kept catching my eye and my interest. Throughout the set, I couldn't help but watch him, and while photographing I made a few attempts with my camera well above my head to get just one shot of just him. He's rough and wild when he needs to be, but can tame his ways when appropriate for the music. He is a truly skilled drummer, and it got me thinking about how there's a pattern emerging in the concerts that I really enjoy.

Wintersleep  Wintersleep  Wintersleep

The primary ingredient for (most) good bands is excellent and/or unique vocals, and without that it's pretty much a non-starter. But I'm realizing that the drummer has a major influence over what I hear, not just from the drums but from vocals and all the other instruments as well. If the beat is monotonous, it adds monotony to the song that the other players have to try to overcome, but when the beat is expressed in interesting ways with variation in the strikes, the vocals and other instruments are accentuated. It's this kind of playing that can help make the music, and I hear it in bands such as Plants and Animals, Pride Tiger, Trophy, Attack In Black, Islands, and many more bands that I've reviewed on this site. Including Wintersleep. So this is a thank-you to all the drummers out there, including Loel, Matthew, Derrek, Robbie, Stephan, Swav, Tim, Ian and Daniel, Mark, and all the other awesome drummers that help make my nights a blast.

Wintersleep  Wintersleep  Wintersleep

P.S. Wintersleep played another excellent set, proving to me why they deserve to sell out venues like the Phoenix. Their set was filled with songs from Welcome To The Night Sky, sometimes altered for concert, which is something I appreciate. Paul Murphy (vocals, guitar) is an excellent performer, but with Wintersleep it is definitely the sum of the parts that really make the show worthwhile. The encore included a song I didn't recognize; it started out a little jazzy before progressing into a bit of a jam session, which seems to be the way they like to finish their shows. Convinced once more that I really enjoy listening to this band, I picked up their previous two albums at the show, which now gives me another 90 minutes of their material to rock out to while attempting to write reviews like this one.

Info: Wintersleep | Connect: MySpace, Facebook

The Wooden Sky

I didn't get there quite early enough to see much of The Wooden Sky, but I did get to hear one memorable song. It was a gentle folk-rock tune about leaving town with "a car full of narcotics". Wish I could have understood all the lyrics, because it sure sounded like it was headed somewhere strange.

The Wooden Sky  The Wooden Sky  The Wooden Sky

The Wooden Sky  The Wooden Sky  The Wooden Sky

Info: The Wooden Sky | Connect: MySpace, Facebook


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