. : : April 17th, 2009 : : .
I’ve recently written about opening bands that are so powerful, they totally eclipse the performance of the headliners. I’ve thus far avoided writing about opening bands that are so bland, you spend their entire set looking at your watch and wishing you’d left your house an hour later. Today’s blog falls somewhere in between, and is about the opening band that is great enough to win you over and buy their record, but not at the expense of the enjoyment of the performers you’ve come to see.
My love of Maria Taylor is well documented. Ever since she fell into my lap two years prior, I resolved to never miss a Toronto-area show and was predictably excited when she announced that she would be bringing her act to Toronto to promote her album, LadyLuck. There was just one problem: I had never heard of the opening performers, The Whispertown 2000, before, and with a ridiculous name like that, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. After all, wasn’t that whole Y2K thing so ten years ago?
But I wanted to ensure that I had a good spot for Maria Taylor, so I ventured out early to secure my usual spot at the El Mocambo, which has always afforded me good sight lines and great recordings. When Whispertown 2000 took the stage, I really didn’t know what to expect. I was first thrown off by lead singer’s Morgan Nagler nasal drawl, but the band’s choice of 103 from their latest album, Swim, was a wise one. A song in the vein of an up-dated and hyperbolic take The Beatles‘ classic song When I’m 64 is simultaneously sweetly adorable and unabashedly catchy.
When Morgan broke a string two songs into the set, it should have brought any momentum the band had to a screeching halt. After all, who wants to watch a band no one’s heard of talk aimlessly to fill the silence? But bandmates Vanesa Corbala and Casey Holden Wisenbaker‘s banter was sincere and increasingly entertaining as they bid to buy time, and when the band was finally ready again, they came out of the gates firing on all cylinders.
The band continued to mix styles and tempos throughout the evening almost as frequently as they each changed instruments. Normally, this is a sign of a train wreck bound to happen, but I was impressed with just how apt each member was, no matter where they landed in the metaphorical game of musical chairs (pun not intended, but noted nevertheless). Although ultimately superfluous auditorily speaking, these regular rotations provided an interesting visual that undoubtedly assisted in keeping wandering eyes planted squarely on the stage, where they belonged.
With three (silly, but I still think valid) reasons why I shouldn’t have liked the band stacked menacingly against them, it’s a pleasant surprise and rare oddity that The Whispertown 2000 overcame these objections and managed to not just entertain me but win me over completely as a fan. Now, just as I anxiously awaited Maria Taylor’s return to Toronto, I similarly continue to await an opportunity to see The Whispertown 2000 again. This time with open arms and blind eyes.
03. Lock and Key
06. Old Times
08. Erase The Lines
09. Ebb and Flow
10. Pushing Oars
13. From the Start / Jamboree
Thanks to Whispertown 2000, Maria Taylor and band, Too Many Sisters, and everyone involved a the El Mocambo. Please download and distribute this recording freely, and support the bands by buying their albums, merchandise and concert tickets when they perform in your town.