Two lesser-known, but definitely up-and-coming Victoria bands took the stage at the Tidemark Theatre on Saturday for what felt more like an intimate jam for a group of friends rather than a big theatrical, well-polished stage show – which was perfect for those in attendance.
Ramblerspeak, led by powerhouse vocalist Norah Erickson, gave those in attendance much more than most opening bands, playing what felt like the band’s whole catalogue instead of just a few songs to warm up the speakers and get the sound engineers dialled in for the headliners.
The band drifts from a driving rock sound into a hint of country twang and back into a bluesy folk sound. Their internal chemistry flows around the stage and then out from it into the audience, welcoming those with tickets into their little group to share in their energy and fun.
While Erickson pulls focus – in the best sense of the term – with her dynamic, powerful and impressive vocal talent, lead guitarist Jordan Lambeth subtly goes about his business of adding clear and effective guitar riffs just under the surface of the music, bassist Torsten Gran-Rauz drives the beat and energy while drummer Brady Zomer works his way around his kit in the back, unimposing and seemingly effortless in his ability to fill their songs with just the right amount of punctuation.
Then the headliners took the stage.
This is a genuine rock band. Band of Rascals have recently been riding a surging wave, having taken the stage at huge venues and festivals like Rifflandia and Rock the Shores in the last year.
And you can see why they are getting these kinds of gigs.
Like Ramblerspeak before them, Band of Rascals’ overall dynamic is set by their lead singer and rhythm guitarist’s exceptional voice.
That singer, Sam Trainor, goes seamlessly from heavy driving rock to acoustic love ballad with no hint if he prefers one over the other.
I would have liked to hear a bit more from lead guitarist Malcolm Owen-Flood Saturday, as his lead guitar lines sounded a bit muted underneath the rest of the band in a few places where it probably should have taken over, but my opinion that it needed to be louder is informed by the fact that what I could hear of it was excellent, and when it did manage to shine through, it was more than welcome.
Bassist Sean Marcy and drummer Marcus Manhas drove the rhythm beautifully. In spite of some quick and drastic transitions within songs requiring exact timing between band members, everything sounded tight and polished.
The performer who was probably having the most fun, however, was keyboard player and backing percussionist Rob Wilkinson, who Trainor says joins them “pretty often, but isn’t a full-time member of the band,” and was very entertaining over in his little corner of the stage, happily adding to the band’s dynamic.
If you missed the show, you can hear one tune from the night in a video slideshow of photos from the concert (above), and check out Band of Rascals on Soundcloud and Ramblerspeak’s debut single on YouTube.