The Painted Birds at The Anza Club

Photos by Alex Ramon

I swore to myself when I started this website that I would never write a bad review. I’ve been getting criticized of late for always having positive things to say about the bands I go out and see, and that in order for me to credible, I have to write something a little more controversial. Sure that’s all fine and dandy, but why put down bands that are starting up and trying something that most people don’t have the balls to do? Of course, there’s always the saying that any exposure is good exposure, but I beg to differ. Most bands I review are not signed to any major label, or any label for that matter. But when I do see a band I don’t particularly enjoy, I rather not discourage them from creating, but instead, wait for a better day when they manage to produce something that catches my attention.

At The Nearly Famous Music Festival, I was very close to breaking my initial promise. My night wasn’t going well, and thee bands did not live up to my expectations to say the least. I was at the breaking point, but one particular band brought me back and made me realise why I do what I do. I started off at some bars downtown, doing the whole rock scene for the festival, and it just wasn’t cutting it. Everyone at each venue were either piss drunk or just plain mean, and I was ready to call it a night and come back to the comfort of my desk and rant about the horrible music. That’s when I decided to go to one last show at The Anza Club, hoping that it would salvage my night and turn it around. I walked into the venue, and right away a different, light hearted vibe radiated throughout the atmosphere and the weight on my shoulders lifted instantaneously. I heard the serene voice of Adaline pump through the P.A. system, and at that moment, I knew I came to the right place.

This isn’t another review of the beloved Adaline, even though I could probably write another full article on her, but it was the act after her that caught my attention. Vancouver’s very own, The Painted Birds graced us with their homecoming show and that was all I needed to change what could have been a disastrous night (and disastrous article…) into one of the most memorable nights I’ve had in a long time.

The Painted BirdsNow who are these Painted Birds I speak of? Well if you remember correctly, Dom was kind enough to help out the aforementioned Adaline at her Media Club set, and that was the first taste I had of how talented a band I would be witnessing. Formed in 2005, The Painted Birds have seduced people throughout Canada and have secured a loyal following. This wonderful band is comprised of Shawn Berke on bass/keyboards/guitar/vocals (wow… what does this guy NOT play?), Dominique Fricot on lead vocals/guitar/keyboard, McNo (hmmm that’s an interesting name) on lead guitar/bass/keyboard/vocals, and Shane Lynch on drums/vocals. In 2007, they released their debut album So Much For The Rain and have since toured throughout this fine country of ours, promoting their love for music. They’ve played various industry showcases, which includes the likes of Canadian Music Week in Toronto as well as headlining a showcase for NXNE. Unlike various mainstream artists, The Painted Birds do not shy away from writing on topics that hit close to home. Dom, the main songwriter of the group, wrote his very first song about something near and dear to his heart, the death of his parents. It’s a good escape from reality and is a great way to cope with pain and loss. With this in mind, you have to consider how hard it must be to unveil something so close to home, and at the same time, perform it to an audience. That is what makes this band so special. The way they can connect with the crowd at a more intimate level is astounding, and is why they have gained such a loyal following.

As I mentioned before, The Painted Bird’s have just come back from a long strenuous tour across Canada, and was welcomed back home to a thunderous Vancouver crowd at The Anza Club. Even though it was a Nearly Famous Music Festival show, it was more of a FU:M showcase, a local Vancouver based record and management company that also represents my favourite singer/songwriter Dan Mangan. The first thing I noticed (and how can anyone not…) was how tall Dom was. It wasn’t his sweet, serene, and effortless voice, but it was his 6’ 7” frame (if his musical career doesn’t pan out, I’m sure he can play some sport and DOMinate…pun intended). The second thing I noticed was Shawn’s lack of footwear. He played the entire set without shoes on (not even socks!) all the while avoiding getting his feet trampled on by other band members. Not only did their appearance on stage impress me, but I was also amazed at how melodic and danceable each song was. They provided the necessary energy on stage while still maintaining the beautiful harmonies that distinguish this band. Between each song, they conversed with the crowd and it wasn’t just a little small talk, or something to kill time in between songs, but it was more of an actual conversation. They seemed like very personable people, which is why there was such a huge crowd at this show. They easily switched from a melodically driven song such as “Colleen” to a more intimate soft-ballad such as “So Beautiful.” And sensing that the crowd needed some more energy, The Painted Birds pumped their sing-a-long track “Ocean of a Sea” and got the crowd chanting “Aiyah-yah-yah-yah!” With all of this testosterone on stage, they needed a more feminine touch and that is when they called up their touring buddy. This little ball of energy, also known as Adaline, provided the perfect harmonies to the already tranquil voice of Dom. With 36 shows under their Bird belt (Do birds even wear belts? I mean Donald Duck doesn’t even wear pants) from their last tour, this was the perfect way to end their long journey, and the crowd unanimously agreed with a deafening applause at the end of the night.

For more information on The Painted Birds feel free to visit their website and myspace. This is one of the finest bands coming out of Vancouver, and will definitely be one of the best Canadian musical exports.