The Rest @ Great Hall

. : : July 29th, 2011 : : .

I can’t say I knew much of anything about the Out of the Box Festival a week before it started. I’m not as in touch with local music as you might expect for someone with a blog such as mine, so when Hamilton’s The Rest announced on their various social networking sites that they would be playing The Great Hall for the festival, I had mixed feelings.

To begin with, the announcement was only a handful of days before the festival, and I was scheduled to work that evening. Also, the idea of paying for a festival pass when I only had interest in a single band makes my wallet cry a little bit. On the other hand, it was The Rest, who absolutely blew me away five weeks prior.

When I was contacted by the great Sticky Magazine notifying me I had won a pass to the festival, my decision was cemented. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t finagle my way out of work. Worse, the window at which to pick up the passes was smack dab in the middle of my shift and on the complete other side of the city. I had to decline my winning pass and revert back to playing the evening by ear.

Surprisingly, minutes after notifying Sticky that I wouldn’t be able to meet up for the passes, I received a note from The Rest that I had won a festival pass through them, and it could be picked up directly at the venue the evening of the show! Fate seemed to be smiling down on me — and it was clear I was meant to be there.

Now the only thing standing between me and another experience with The Rest was the fickle transit system. But, as you may have guessed from my previous blog entry, I not only made it into the venue on time, but also was early enough to catch the band previous to The Rest, Polynesian Bride. I know, how happily anti-climatic, right?

Next to Polynesian Bride, The Rest’s membership quantity is downright conservative — but nevertheless a formidable visual. Bandmates filled the stage both width and lengthwise, leaving no space uncovered. The setlist was song-for-song identical to their performance in June, but the experience was completely different. After all, this time I knew and recognized each of the songs, and had expectations.

If I was let down though, it was only because of the Great Hall’s substandard sound system. Lacking the element of surprise was no hindrance to the septet. Indeed, frontman Adam Bentley‘s emotive yelps carried beautifully across the small theatre, bouncing on top of the sonic cacophony created by Blake Bowman‘s pulsating drums, Anna Javis‘ humming cello, and an onslaught of playfully interweaving guitars and keyboards by the remaining band members. Another home run that makes the wait for their next album all the more agonizing.

At the close of their set, Anna told me a story about how the aforementioned album, Seesaw, was all but in the can until an unexpected hard drive crash demolished the band’s progress. It was sent to expensive data recovery experts who managed to salvage some of the band’s efforts, but forced an elongated and unexpected delay while the data was retrieved and the band revisited the basic recovered tracks to flesh them back out. It was clear the delay has frustrated the band as much as it has its fans, interrupting the momentum created by their sophomore disc, Everyone All At Once.

The live show is a clear indication that when the stars align and Seesaw finally hits the streets, the album will be a Best of-list topper. Keep your eyes and ears opened, indie rock lovers, because the band has been hinting at a big announcement in the very near future.

This recording sounds good, within the parameters established by the weak sound quality at The Great Hall. Some of the instruments, especially bass and drums, carry better than others, and the vocals sound oddly clipped (although my master recording left plenty of headroom), but it’s better than serviceable, and will certainly help tide over fans. Check it out.

  1. Who Knows
  2. Young & Innocent
  3. [banter]
  4. Sheep In Wolves’ Clothing
  5. [banter]
  6. Always On My Mind
  7. Walk On Water (auspicious beginnings)
  8. [banter]
  9. Hey! For Horses
  10. [banter]
  11. Close Westerns

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Sheep In Wolves’ Clothing (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

Thanks to The Rest, The Out of the Box Festival and The Great Hall for a wonderful evening.

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