. : : September 15th, 2011 : : .
At the opening of Rebekah Higgs‘ CD release party for Odd Fellowships at The Rivoli in Toronto, she introduced herself to the audience for anyone “dragged out by their friend,” but jokingly stated that everyone else in the room was probably a friend or family member. I would have chuckled to myself, thinking it a clever self-deprecating joke if I hadn’t already seen the size of the evenings guest list (three pages!) and mentally compared it to the number of people in the room (75 seems a good guesstimate).
Full disclosure: I only know the size of the guest list because I, myself, was on it. Not because I know Rebekah personally, nor do I have any industry “hook ups,” but because I won yet another of those Facebook contests becoming increasingly popular amongst artists trying to leverage social media. But I don’t think the point of the evening WAS to earn a bundle with draw from the doors. It seemed legitimately to be a real party, celebrating the release of an album almost half a decade in the works.
Unfortunately, the sign of any real party is many, many groups of people carrying on separate conversation, and very little of that changed once Rebekah took the stage. Luckily, I secured a spot right up near the stage, while most of the congregation floated around the bar at the back corner of the room. Less fortunate was that the fairly inattentive crowd was probably the least of Rebekah’s worries.
Troubled from the opening number and first single, Gosh Darn Damn, there was a faulty cable or connector of some sort that required frequent trial-and-error throughout the night. The problem was most apparent when Rebekah used her looping equipment to provide her own back-up vocals — a great, cool effect, if executed properly, but unfortunately, most of the playback was marred by distortion. Between several songs, the band and sound technician worked to replace DI boxes, microphone cables, patch cables and amps. Nothing seemed to quite do the trick, and I don’t think it was solved by the end of the night.
Credit where credit is due, though: Rebekah was the consummate professional, and didn’t allow a single indicator of the frustration she MUST have been feeling to show on her face. In fact, about halfway into the show, she good-naturedly bantered with the crowd about how her old Kaoss Pad midi controller was damaged at a house party, and the replacement pad, although fine during extensive soundchecks, always seems to act up on stage.
Having read this far, you’d be forgiven for thinking I had less than a great time. Certainly, the odds were against the Halifax ex-patriot recently relocated to Toronto, but her warm, soulful voice that occasionally slides into a Macy Gray-esque rasp, catchy melodies, and tight band certain kept my attention and left me wanting more. Indeed, the sign of a good concert is one that makes you re-listen to an album with a refreshed ear, and connect with songs you overlooked previously.
The songs’ subject matter run the emotional gauntlet, from unrequited affection on both sides (Gosh Darn Damn and Give You Want respectively), the resigned pessimism of Miserably Together, to the unabashed optimistic love only found in pop music perfection such as Little Voice; and that was only the first four selections! Some choice cover songs dotted the exclamation marks on a set that reminded me why I’d been itching to catch Rebekah live since discovering her via the Little Voices EP this past spring.
Luckily, I’ll have a chance to do it again soon. Rebekah is about to undertake a residency at The Drake Underground on Sunday evenings in the month of October. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that both the chatty audience members and technical glitches will stay at home next time.
02. Gosh Darn Damn
03. [technical difficulties]
04. Give You What You Want
05. Miserably Together
06. [banter / technical difficulties]
07. Little Voice
09. [banter / jam]
10. Youth & Beauty
13. Time of the Season [the Zombies]
14. [technical difficulties]
15. Drunk Love
18. He’s So Fine [the Chiffons]
Thanks to Rebekah Higgs and band, and the Rivoli for a fun party.