Victoria bands make it to Goolden

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November 5, 2012


Woodsmen and Leisure Suit
Alix Goolden Hall

Reviewed by Cara Spangler

The “After Halloween Show” on November 2 at Alix Goolden Hall was in many ways much better than Halloween: no “Monster Mash,” no grimacing at awkward costumes; just a celebration of some of Victoria’s finest young musicians.

Alix Goolden welcomed a mixed ages crowd into its wooden pews, creating a mindful, music-focused energy – a welcome change from standing ear-deep in stereo at Victoria’s typical club venues. The century old organ served as a dramatic backdrop for the spacious stage.

“Most Victoria bands aspire to play at Alix Goolden,” says Oliver Brooks, lead singer of Leisure Suit, already seen performing in the Hall at this year’s Rifflandia festival. But for Woodsmen, Dogwood Line, and Bonfire Blondes, the opportunity was brand new and well deserved.

Woodsmen’s burgeoning musical venture has given the six-piece band an astounding confidence that easily filled the Hall despite their usual wall of dancing fans. This time, the fans stood respectfully in the back, swaying to “Wade in the Dark,” akin to ethereal choir music in the pillowy acoustics.

Before the final song, “I Got Time,” lead singer Maryse Bernard announced the possible last performance of drummer Graeme McDonald, which sent fans dancing to the front of the stage for the second half of the song.

“That was surprising,” says McDonald of the tribute. “I looked down for two seconds and suddenly half the audience…”

“I almost started crying,” Bernard finishes.

Leisure Suit followed Woodsmen, bringing the audience into a dreamy, post-rock meditation. “The Whale Song” turned Alix Goolden into a haunted submarine as Brooks’ slid a drumstick across the strings of his guitar to produce a sonar-like echo.

The four members huddled briefly after the last song of the set, offering to play an impromptu encore of a new song, which received encouraging cheers from the audience.

“It was contentious whether or not to play the last song,” says Brooks after the show. “It’s not done yet.”

Members of Leisure Suit met and wrote their first EP while some of them were still attending St. Michael’s University School. Woodsmen, together for just over a year, are to record this week with Sam Weber of Jets Overhead. Alix Goolden Hall may provide the famous acoustics, but there is no faking the talent of these young and motivated musicians.

Cara Spangler is a writing student at UVIC

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