Way To Go Einstein, Stride Elementary, and Waltz Darling at The Backstage LoungePhotos by Emily Groundwater
On Thursday, August 13th I had the pleasure of enjoying the offerings of three great local bands at the Backstage Lounge. Way to go Einstein, Stride Elementary, and Waltz Darling took the stage that night and provided a classic showcase of the abundant musical talent we are lucky to have here in Vancouver.
First up was Way to Go Einstein, a five-piece alternative rock ensemble consisting of Andrew Carter, Kevin Jack, Geoff Nilson, Michael Munro, and Benson Musaev. Opening with the upbeat tune “Anytime,” lead vocalist Andrew Carter’s vocal style fits well with the bands full sound and immediately reminds you of Thom Yorke’s introspective crooning. It was immediately evident that the group has found chemistry and a great groove playing together and that they feel very confident on stage.
During their set Carter jokingly commented that they were playing a Coldplay cover, when in actuality they were playing a well-written Way to Go Einstein song, which does have smatterings of Coldplay and Radiohead’s sound, which are evidently strong musical influences for the group. However, the band is not without originality. Their sound has a darker, rockier edge – a little more complicated – and as such it makes you pay attention. Although some of their performance could use a little more tightening, their set list was very well structured and overall their performance was worthy of praise. If you get a chance to see this group perform in the future I definitely recommend checking them out.
Second up for the evening was Stride Elementary, comprised of musicians Glenn Gillis, Greg Williams, Kevin Titcomb, and Michael Nathansan, the group carries some what of a folk rock sound, while also teetering on the edge of alterative rock. It is quickly evident during their first tune titled “Dream” that these are well‐practiced musicians who know what they are doing, and I couldn’t help but smile a whole lot during their set. The group has been together for over two years and has managed to find a fine balance musically among each other. With Gillis providing fine tuned riffs on guitar that subtly carry many of their songs, drummer Michael Nathansan provides an solid backbone on drums, showcasing some impressive talent. Greg Williams also lent his multi‐tasking skills to the ensemble juggling numerous keyboards, the bass and baritone all while seeming at ease, while lead vocalist Kevin Titcomb served as a great frontman finding strength in his vocals with the groups faster tunes, regardless of the fact that he can seem a bit shy at times.
The set was a crowd pleaser, with Stride Elementary commanding the attention of the Backstage Lounge during their entire performance. Particularly impressive was their new song “ See Again,” which was a favorite of the band, and for good reason. The rockier tune would have been a great song to end on, though their final song “Lookin’ for Something” also left the crowd with a great impression and took many to the dance floor, as it showcased Titcomb’s strength with more aggressive vocals and left me thinking about the Foo Fighters. Overall, Stride Elementary’s performance was one to remember. It also left me with a great feeling knowing that there are so many talented local musicians who have been around for a while and keep writing, practicing, performing and have a great time simply because they love playing good music.
Now if Stride Elementary didn’t put me in enough of a good mood that evening, the final band Waltz Darling definitely made sure I didn’t go home unsatisfied. Now when I went to read my notes while writing this review I didn’t find much. This was because I spent a good amount of my time during the band’s set on the dance floor, and if there is one band in Vancouver that can make a person dance like nobody is watching it is definitely Waltz Darling. The group, which comes off to be a Hungarian folk band with a touch of drunken sail or and tab of the Bouncing Souls, is comprised of Atila Breti, Rich Katynski, Robert Medic and Michael Nathanson (who also plays with Stride Elementary).
It was a real shame that by this point in the evening much of the modest crowd at the Backstage Lounge has dribbled out, but what was left of the crowd was dancing and having a great time… even some of the bartenders joined in, as well as my friend Mark who pulled out his Mick Jagger impression in a public space… as I said… if there is a band who can make you dance… While their tunes are high energy they are also rich with narrative lyrics telling stories in a frank and comedic manner. During their final tune “Not Enough,” Medic and Breti provide vocals that jump between speaking and singing, and sing to each other in a conversational manner, which greatly compliments their musical style. Waltz Darling played a show that could simply be described as a great time… for both the band and the audience, while also showcasing some very original and enjoyable music. If you get a chance to see this group perform in the future, I urge you to put on your dancing shoes and go see them play.
Overall, August 13th was an evening that reassured my faith in the local music scene, and reminded me of how proud I am to say I’m from Vancouver, and I sure hope I get a chance to see WTGE, Stride Elementary, and Waltz Darling again in the future.