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30-Sep-2006 11:22 pm Contributed by: pete Concert Reviews
September 28, 2006
The Opera House in Toronto, Ontario
Review and Photos by: Pete Nema

Full photo set: Islands

From the start, it's obvious Islands is not your typical band. First off, from the moment they take the stage, it is clear that they are not concerned with being seriously cool. With all six band members completely dressed in white, their clothes constantly take on the colour of the lights, turning their bodies into a perpetual lightshow. Also, with one dedicated violin player and another part-time violin player, I feel secure in my assertion that they may be the only indie rock band out there with duelling violins. Add in the occasional bass clarinet and the extremely low average age of the crowd, and I found myself at a concert like no other I've attended.

The Violin Adds Depth
Taking on the Colours
Bass Clarinet

With varying compositional styles, Islands' music is really all about the creation of endorphins through catchy melodies mixed with complex song structures. Their carefree sound is significantly more powerful during their live show than on the studio album. And like many bands, they appear as though they sincerely enjoy being on stage. But there is a difference here in that they also appear to sincerely care for all their fans, and they're not afraid to express it. For example: Many in attendance wielded compact cameras that appeared as a sea of LCD screens. At one point a security guard went out to the front to (presumably) stop one fan from taking any more flash photos. In response, Nick Diamonds (vocals, guitar) remarked to the bouncer "Dude, smile man" and then said to the crowd "Take all the pictures you want, we don't care". And the waves of LCD screens once again came to life.

Duelling Violins
Montreal Style
Sending Love To The Crowd

But even stronger examples of the band-to-fan connection came out near the end of the show and as well as during the encore. Covering many of their tracks from their debut album, Return To The Sea, as well as at least a few new songs, Islands wooed the young crowd, ultimately bringing the fans at the stage to simultaneously bop up and down. When the last song of the set was complete, three overly ecstatic girl emerged onto the stage to hug a some of the band members. They got their hugs and then returned to the floor while the band exited the stage for a break. But that's not where the love ended.

On Stage

As Islands returned for their three song encore, they put their hands out to physically connect with as many fans as they could reach. When Diamonds got to the mic, he exclaimed "Let's make babies. Let's do strychnine. Let's hold hands." (A curious combination of suggested activities). By the peak of the first encore song, Humans, the fans were so excited that a few got up on stage to dance, and then a few more, and then more. As song neared completion, the band was playing with 30 or so fans locked in a dancing lovefest, many of them laughing, some of them hugging, and all of them grinning wildly. When the song finally ended, the onstage crowd returned to the floor while Diamonds told them "Just remember, you're innocent, they can't pick you out of a crowd". One could practically smell all the warm fuzzies that were being generated.

They finished the night with an incredibly strong version of Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby followed by Rough Gem. I'm twice the age (at least) of many of the people in attendance that night, but I left The Opera House with a good idea of what it is that is pulling so many fans toward Islands. At least a few of them will have gone home knowing they just attended the best concert of their life so far, and although I agree that the show was really excellent, the most likely reason they think that is that it will have been one of their first concert experience ever. What a great memory to have.


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