Hannah Georgas and Dan Mangan at The Cambrian HallPhotos by Alex Ramon
I think I can speak on behalf of everyone here at Ronatron when I say 2008 was a great year. We were lucky enough to attend some great shows, amazing summer festivals, and meet some great people along the way. There were so many things that could have been the highlight of the year, such as The Pemberton Music Festival or even Virgin Fest in Toronto. But to be honest, as fun as that was my roots are here in the Vancouver music scene. So to cap off this rollercoaster year, I attended my first local all age’s show. I really didn’t know what to expect, but one thing I did know for sure, the line-up was amazing and something I couldn’t pass up. My favourite local bands all in one venue was an ear-gasm waiting to happen. With Hannah Georgas, Dan Mangan, Said The Whale, and Hey Ocean! all lined up ready to rock out with their metaphorical cocks out, the underage crowd was one of the most enthusiastic little people I have ever seen. This was a sure indication of how the night would turn out.
A talented singer-songwriter, Hannah Georgas brought her own brand of folk rock on to the stage at The Cambrian Hall. Born and raised in the center of the world (Toronto…), Hannah lists her influences as both Billy Corgan, for his “melancholy lyrics,” as well as Janet Jackson, for her “strong sexual desires” (I never thought I would have put Billy and Janet in the same sentence, but there’s a first for everything). With this wide range of inspirational figures, Hannah moulds her own unique musicality into each and every one of her songs. Her talent hasn’t gone unnoticed, especially from the local community as she won The Music BC Songbird West Singer/Songwriter Competition for 2008. With this recognition, it’s perfect timing for her to release her debut EP “The Beat Stuff,” which is already available on iTunes.
At first listen, I thought she had an uncanny musical resemblance to Serena Ryder, Tegan and Sara, or even Regina Spektor. Hannah has that quirky, sultry, and personable voice that resonates throughout all the wonderful instrumental arrangements, and she uses that to her advantage by captivating the audience and drawing them in with her stories. I was really impressed by how she related with the crowd at such a personal level, even getting them to clap in unison during one of her songs.
It’s really refreshing to see a younger audience so enthusiastic about music, unlike the many belligerent drunks that come out to the local bars. You would never see these drunks slow dance to a nice folk song, which is exactly what Hannah was able to do with this all age’s crowd. It was like a high school dance all over again, minus the top 40 hits and the awkward division between genders.
With the crowd at her fingertips, Hannah, along with her “Sisters” Robbie Driscoll (bass, banjo and guitar), Niko Friessen (drums and percussion), and Aaron Joyce (lead guitar and harmonies) warmed up the audience to the point where they forgot it was snowing outside. Their song “Chit Chat” was one of my favourite tracks of the night. It had a slow acoustic build-up to a hard hitting folk track. Even with Hannah’s unique screams (or as I like to call it a yelp), she still had total control of her voice and it provided a nice change from the melodic rhythms we are so accustomed to. All in all, Hannah was the perfect beginning to a wonderful night.
So what can I say about my man Dan Mangan that I haven’t already? Well each time I go watch his shows, he brings something special to the stage that leaves me wanting more. I don’t think I can count the number of times I’ve seen this wonderful musician live, but what I do know is he’s making a name for himself outside of our beloved city. He’s toured throughout the US as well as the UK, even being featured in the Brit-tastemaker magazine, NME. He’s slowly building a fan base with his album “Postcards & Daydreaming,” which was recorded back in 2007, and in recent months he was out in Toronto recording and writing a new album. He played a few of his new tracks for the receptive Cambrian Hall crowd, and left them awestruck by his powerful, raw voice.
The night started beautifully with Hannah Georgas and continued quite nicely onto Dan Mangan’s set. He was sporting a very fashionable sweater vest, something the crowd noticed immediately. Unlike the hard hitting set Hannah performed, Dan provided a more sublime atmosphere that made the rowdy high school crowd silent and attentive. His strong voice resonated throughout the venue and provided a very epic feel, giving everyone in the audience chills.
He played many of his old favourites, such as “Journal of a Narcoleptic” as well as “So Much For Everyone.” During these songs, I’ve noticed a huge change in Dan. He’s matured as a musician and as a performer. You can see the confidence he has on stage and the joy he has playing for such a receptive crowd. With all that touring under his belt, he has grown into an artist I greatly admire. Being able to follow how he has evolved from playing a pirate themed show at The Fairview Pub back in 2006 to playing festivals all throughout Europe is something that makes me proud. I feel like a parent, seeing his tiny little offspring blossom into a successful adult (something I know nothing of because I’m only 23).
His new songs were that much more entertaining. He took his surroundings and wrote songs that had a lot of Vancouver based themes. “Indie Queen” is about a restaurant called De Dutch, a very nice pancake house on Oak Street, and he even wrote a song about the new glass bus stops we have lining our streets.
He finished his set with a crowd favourite called “Robots.” I don’t know what it is, but every time Dan plays this song, the crowd, even if they have never heard the song before, automatically sings a long to the tune. It goes without saying that everyone loved the ending and Dan received a standing ovation, a well deserved gift to a talent that has given so much of his heart to Vancouver.
Stay tuned for part two of the Cambrian Hall show with Said The Whale and Hey Ocean! But for more information on Hannah Georgas and Dan Mangan, feel free to visit their website and myspace.