Sunday night concerts. These frequent occurrences typically strike fear into my 9-5 heart; the exception to this conundrum is Vetiver. Their easy going folk wraps you in a soft blanket and asks for little but your ears. Having never seen them live, I was thrilled to discover they booked a date at the Biltmore as part of their N.A tour supporting their 4th album Tight Knit, their first release with Sub Pop.
Never before has a musician offered to do
their interview with me prior to sound check, so I was taken aback when Andy Cabic strolled up and sat down beside me, gear unloading behind us. "We have a bout 20 minutes if you want to chat now" he said. Cabic is as gentle as his music. In a plush red velvet booth we discussed Tight Knit, Things of The Past, Sub Pop, blogging and more. I've met only a handful of people who posses the skill of making you feel like a life long friend at first meeting, and Andy Cabic is one of them. Many artists would write you off for a discography error, but (when I made one) he gently corrected me and moved forward without judgement. Of particular note was the motivation behind their 3rd album, Things of the Past, which was to test a new combination of musicians in the studio, prior to writing new material... thereby ironing out the kinks A practical, pragmatic idea; I wouldn't be at all surprised to see an increase in cover releases. I'm a huge now a fan of Cabic as a musician and as a human being.
On to the show, Sun Wizard were first to take the stage. They are a local Vancouver band comprised of good friends: Ben Frey, James Bull, Frank Lyons, and Malcolm Jack. Colourful personalities with an even more colorful sound. This happened to be their second live to date and they killed it! With two vocalists crooning in two very different styles from opposite sides of the stage, Sun Wizard sounded like the very demarcation between the Beatles, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. Upbeat, folky, melodic tunes that got people dancing with good vibes. They played for about an hour, my anticipation of Vetiver battled my desire to continue to listen to them as I wondered how their sound will grow and change in their continued collaboration. Their aesthetic was a fragmented mosaic of influences resulting lack of a cohesive quality...but rendering a dynamic collection of sounds and perhaps that's their thing! Check out Sun Wizard and another local band Adelaide live at the Railway club on May 15th.
After reading that Richard Swift is one of Cabic's favorite songwriters, my intrigue and anticipation for his performance spiked. This was the final night of Swift joining Vetiver, he had toured with them for the first leg of their N.A. jaunt, and on this evening his set was quite unique. The day before he lost his base player to a stomach bug that had previously claimed Vetiver's drummer, Otto Hauser. But the show must go on, and Swift pulled off a solo performance tremendously! I caught up with him backstage after his set, and while he expressed frustration at being backed into his first solo performance in years, he was pleased to hear that I, like the rest of the crowd, gave him props for carrying the performance with all the gusto and charisma of someone surrounded by a full band. KUDOS!
My backstage jaunt between Swift and Vetiver's performance had a purpose. As a token of my appreciation, I have begun giving musicians a bottle of my favorite thing... The Naam's Miso Gravy; the condiment equivalent of crack. I had forgotten to bestow it post interview, so I rushed back and while Vetiver was tuning, timidly popped on stage and motioned to Otto that this was for Andy. "For me?" he asked, "No, for ANDY" I specified, red in the face. Andy had now taken notice of my presence, so I apologetically explained that I had brought this and neglected to give it to him. He recognized the bottle for what it was, "that's so nice, Sarah" I put it in the green room and hurried back to the crowd to claim a spot for the show. I didn't want to miso-bomb anyone!
With the gravy safe backstage, and myself in good position, Vetiver began to play. I was thrilled to hear the same Vetiver I had come to know and love through my head phones playing in front of me. The "Tight" in Tight Knit may or may not allude to their flawless live show. The audience was quieted, subdued. Closing my eyes, it was as if I was alone in a room with Cabic and his minstrels playing solely for me. This, of course, is not the case, but I believe that every audience member could recount the same perfection and intimacy. Their music is so soft and "easy" that one song seemed to blend into another in a seamless web of travelling music. All the while making you feel fucking great! So intensely did I enjoy their performance that I forgot entirely to keep track of a set list, my apologies. They opened with Rolling Sea, the first track off Tight Knit Highlights include Sister and Everyday (the latter featured in my interview) both off Tight Knight, and You May Be Blue and Idle Ties from To Find Me Gone.
I hope that Vetiver returns to Vancouver soon, and that Andy managed to sneak the miso gravy over the boarder!