The Stills at The Commodore

Photos by Jon Healy

When watching a band play live, do you ever get the feeling they don’t belong in that tiny little club? I get that all the time, especially with the pool of talent we have here in Vancouver. It’s amazing how many great musicians grace us with their music in such small quarters, making close to nothing, all in an effort to spread their love. I would like to take this portion of the article to thank each and every artist out there, for giving us less talented people something to admire. I can only wish to be given such a gift, but unfortunately my talent lies elsewhere, so you’ll just have to settle for some words strung together on the screen. The Stills have come from obscurity to fame, and because of their hard work, they were rewarded by playing at The Commodore, and even that is still too small a stage for these Montreal rockers.

The Stills Comprised of Tim Fletcher (Vocals/guitar), Dave Hamelin (Vocals/guitar), Liam O’Neil (keyboards), Olivier Corbeil (bass), and Julien Blais (drums) this five-piece has been showcasing their music since 2000. On a trip to the beloved NYC, they recorded their first EP Remeberese, and since then have gone on to release three full-length albums. Their latest concoction, “Oceans Will Rise,” awarded the band with two Juno Awards (one for Best New Group of the Year…even though they’ve been together since 2000… and another for Best Alternative Album of the Year). They’ve made a name for themselves by playing with the likes of Interpol, Kings of Leon, and Paul McCartney, so when they decided to bring their act to Vancouver, I knew it was going to be a great show.

The dance floor was packed from front to back, and with no barrier between the stage and crowd, I was surprised a drunken fool didn’t jump up and do what drunk people do (you know… like that dude who knocked down Noel Gallagher at Virgin Fest… once again, kudos to you my good man!), but of course that would never happen because everyone loves The Stills. That barrier, however, would have been great for my photographer Jonny, but unfortunately he had to go old-school and hang with the dedicated fans up front to give you those amazing shots you see right there. So if you ever see him out in the crowd, give him a nice pat on the back, buy him a beer, shake his hand, give him a kiss while you’re at it, whatever you feel like doing to be honest!

With no protection from the outside world, The Stills rocked out hard with their new brand of psychedelic stadium rock. Tim and Dave both put on great vocal performances that were both powerful and delicate. Their voices echoed throughout the venue, all the while interacting with their beloved fans in attendance. Julien was no slouch either, and with drum sticks in hand, he put on a show that left me in awe. He had one of the fastest drum rolls I’ve ever seen, and each filler was precise and timely. Liam was tucked away on the side with his keyboard, but he still managed to have a smile on his face, and Olivier had some very intricate and hard hitting bass lines. Each member had a perma-smile on their faces, and that is why this band will last. They enjoy each others company, which goes a long way considering they’re all in close quarters for an extended period of time on tour.

I really did enjoy their entire set, and each song was more impressive than the next, but I can’t write on all of them, so I’ll just name a couple that I intrigued me. There was their radio hit, “Being Here.” Everyone jumped and sang along, and it was really amazing to watch the crowd from a distance. Every single person on that floor was attentive, they listened to the words, they listened to the guitar riffs, and most importantly they listened to their bodies and not their minds. People seemed to let loose and throw their worries out that door they walked in from.

As much as “Being Here” is a great track, I was actually more impressed with “Hands on Fire.” It’s one of those “slow-build up into epic” songs that I love so much. But once it reached that big moment, they snatched it away and brought it down a notch. It seemed like they were just giving us a glimpse of what they could really do, toying with our emotions, and that just made me want more (that sure does sound like a stripper eh?).

The night was a total success, and these boys from Montreal left Vancouver knowing they accomplished their mission in satisfying our musical hunger. For more information on The Stills, feel free to visit their website and myspace.