Said The Whale and Hey Ocean! at The Cambrian Hall

Photos by Alex Ramon

Remember a while back there were all those feuds between big name bands? The Killers had a thing against Fall Out Boy, Jay-Z battled it out with Nas, Metallica had a long standing feud with Megadeth, and Nickelback had problems with pretty much every other band in the world. Those were the days, when talented musicians couldn’t even fathom uttering a single compliment to their peers. Well lucky for us, the Vancouver music scene has no such bitter rivalries. It’s such a nice change, when local bands support one another and none more so than Said The Whale and Hey Ocean! These two bands have gone on numerous cross country tours together, and can be seen frequently rocking out back stage during each other’s sets. It’s not everyday you get a line-up of Said The Whale and Hey Ocean! on the same night, so this was a special treat to cap off 2008.

Said The Whale

Said The WhaleBefore Said The Whale even stepped on stage, Hannah Georgas and Dan Mangan graced the stage of the Cambrian Hall to warm up to growing crowd. They both played an amazing set, blending in their own unique form of folk rock and singer/songwriter mystique. During both their sets, the hall soon filled to its capacity and as soon as Said The Whale jumped on stage, there wasn’t a single open spot near the front (or the back for that matter). It was a nightmare for Alex, my photographer, who was trying his hardest not to block anyone’s view with his ginormous camera.

The large audience at their show is a sure indication of the band’s strong fan base, as their songs relate to the younger audience, as well as the older indie rockers. It was great to see high school kids mixed in with bearded Main Street hipsters. Observing from a safe distance, I felt like I was in the middle of the audience spectrum, mainly because I look young enough to be in high school but also old enough to grow a beard (however I can’t grow a beard, I’m Asian…).

Comprised of Tyler Bancroft (guitar/vocals), Ben Worcester (guitar/vocals), Spencer Schoening (drums), Jaycelyn Brown (keys), and Jeff LaForge (bass), Said The Whale performed their last show of 2008 to a packed Cambrian Hall. This was a special night, not just because the band was playing, but because it was Jeff’s last show. He is one of the founding members and will surely be missed, but not to worry, Peter Carruthers will be taking over the bass duties. You might remember him from the now defunct Lotus Child, so you can expect great things to come from STW with his talent on board.

They started their set off with “Puddleglum,” a very innovative narrative song about Christmas in Vancouver from a family man’s point of view. It provided a nice festive atmosphere and lightened up the mood in the hall. They then proceeded to rock out to more melodic east-coast style rock. Tyler and Ben both complimented each other quite nicely with their beautiful harmonies, and Spencer, oh that Spencer. He is by far one of the most entertaining, hardest hitting drummers I have seen in a long while. At one point, his shin started bleeding because of his kick drum.

With the blood and sweat pushed aside, these outstanding musicians praised the other talented bands on the bill. STW not only plugged Dan Mangan’s album “Postcards & Daydreaming” (one of my all time favourite albums by the way), but they also dedicated a song to him. But it didn’t stop there. They even wrote a new song all based on their adventures and experiences touring with Hey Ocean! I just can’t get over how supportive everyone is in the Vancouver music scene. There aren’t any egos to deal with, only talented musicians encouraging, and even collaborating with one another.

The song I enjoyed the most, and quite possibly made the entire audience dance and clap in unison, had to be “This City’s A Mess.” If you check out STW’s myspace page, you can scroll down to their video section and witness the band play and dancing in various animal costumes. Pay special attention to the Moose doing the DX suck it sign (I used to be a huge wrestling fan… that is until they changed it to WWE), and if you pay close enough attention, you might be able to catch Dan Mangan doing a cameo. Regardless of the video, this song brought the crowd to life and made them dance their tiny little hearts out on the dance floor.

With all of that said, their set was both sweet and memorable. If there is one band that I could put on my all time set list, it would be Said The Whale. Their songs are not only catchy and melodic, but it also reminds me of the warm summer days. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this cold and STW brought a little sunshine into my life.

Hey Ocean!

Hey OceanNow this is a band I’ve seen on many occasions, but never actually reviewed. I’ve always gone as a fan, and never really wanted to work during one of their sets, but something came over me. I really wanted to express how I felt about such a talented and fun (emphasis on fun) group. Hey Ocean! is just one of those local bands you have watch before you die, even if you have no idea who they are. It’s so enjoyable that I can’t even put it in words, but alas, it is my job after all so here goes nothing eh?

Formed less than four years ago, Hey Ocean! have already released two full-length albums and gained fans across this fine country of ours, as well as down south. Consisting of Ashleigh Ball (Vocals/Flute), David Beckingham (Vocals/Guitar), Dave Vertesi (Bass), and Dan Klenner (Percussion), this foursome is a blend of some funky surfer folk pop that is unique to say the least.

In 2008, they released their new album “It’s Easier To Be Somebody Else” on their own label “Pop Machine,” which is actually created with their aforementioned friends from Said The Whale. They spent most of the year touring extensively across Canada, even hooking up with Xavier Rudd, Sarah Harmer, Bedouin Soundclash, and Shad. They even played to large crowds at the Calgary Virgin Festival, the Saskatoon Jazz Fest, and the Whistler Arts Festival. Not to mention they were one of the featured artists on myspace, which is a huge accomplishment for any indie band. Not only is that an honour, but it’s some much needed free promotion that they deserve. All of this is pretty impressive for any band to have accomplished, but keep this in mind; they did all of this in 2008. With that said, Hey Ocean! is a band to watch out for in 2009, and the years to come if they have anything to say about it.

When watching (or dancing to…) one of Hey Oceans! sets, there is one thing that you will notice. It’s something you can’t miss, even if you’re blind (but you’ll probably miss it if you’re deaf, but if you’re deaf but not blind then you’ll catch it… are you following me?). To put it simply, they use a lot of different instruments. Ashleigh started the night off playing with a glockenspiel, proceeding next to her magic flute, as well as a harmonica. She then capped it off nicely by using the most difficult instrument of all, the triangle. At one point, the entire band had a tribal drum off that got the underage crowd hopping around like wild beasts performing a ritual before a festive meal (is that too descriptive?).

And what I said before about Hey Ocean! and STW being close friends, I wasn’t joking. During HO!’s set, members of STW, especially Ben, were seen dancing up a storm on the hall floor. This didn’t go unnoticed by the boys and girl of HO!, as they proceeded to play a cover of a STW song (my oh my they sure do love each other). One fan jokingly yelled out “Play your own songs!” And as retaliation, the band started playing their interpretation of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia.” The crowd loved it and cheered with such exuberance, I thought my ear drums would burst and start bleeding.

Aside from those songs I mentioned above, two songs stood out for me above the rest. “Fifteen Words” not only showcased David’s beautiful and soft singer/songwriter voice, but also revealed the amazing musical chemistry with Ashleigh, which is evident between their pleasing harmonies. And correct me if I’m wrong, but they are in the process of shooting a video for this beloved song, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for this lovely piece of moving art. The second song that I found pleasing to my ears (and to my feet) was “A Song About California.” It’s the perfect poppy folk dance track that reveals everything you need to know about the band. They are a happy go lucky posse that reminds me of summer and every time I listen to any of their songs, I automatically daydream about the warm beach.

For more information on Said The Whale and Hey Ocean! visit their websites and myspace pages. Make sure you catch them if they’re in a city near you. I guarantee you won’t regret it!