One late April afternoon, quite out of the blue, Hamilton’s indie darlings The Rest announced that they would be parting ways as a band.
There was none of the drama or theatrics that all too often mars the legacy of a great band; no drug busts or burgeoning solo careers, no assault arrests or overdoses, no egos or split ideologies. In fact, after several incidents that would have spelled the demise of other bands, including the tragic death of friend and producer Dan Achen, and the loss of a hard drive containing near completed recordings of tracks that would later be recovered and released as their swan song album, Seesaw, The Rest soldiered on.
What, then, was the catalyst that destroyed a band that had overcome so much, received universal critical praise for their most recent output, and seemed to be at the very precipice of success?
Well, I guess it just stopped being fun.
It doesn’t make for an interesting headline, but the band just ran its natural course. Before its prime, and with so much potential yet on the horizon most fans will concur, but there’s a lot that goes on for bands between the stages and spotlights, and it is crystal clear that the band is proud of their legacy and would rather call it a day than sully what they have worked a full decade to create and refine.
Yet, The Rest would be malcontent to fizzle out without a little flair, and instead announced one last hometown show as a proper goodbye to the friends, family and fans that have supported them for years in a local Hamilton-area high school gymnasium. The demand was loud and large for a proper farewell show for their neighbors to the east, and a prequel farewell show was added for the Toronto crowd that had helped the band flourish.
Could there be a more appropriate setting than the Drake Hotel, the site of the Seesaw record release show only a scant year earlier? Probably not, and probably nary a better venue to showcase the band’s dense shoe-gaze rock. It promised to be a marvelous night.
But it wasn’t easy, either. A band heralded by this very blogger as one of the best live music acts performing today would be performing these songs for the last time. Err, second-to-last time. But it would be the last time this writer would hear these songs he’s loved so dearly, and it was hard to shake the feeling that the evening was a funeral for a dear friend.
The Rest, however, were steadfast that this penultimate performance was to be less a funeral and more a wake. With the price of admission came a choice of merchandise. T-shirts, cds, LPs, pillowcases, and the like – nothing was off limits. Parting gift or party favor, the band insisted it remain a tangible presence in the lives of those who came to bid them a final farewell.
But more importantly, and less tangibly, was the experience of the songs. The gravity of knowing they’d never be heard again weighed heavily on an already emotional, energetic performance. The set was super-sized; lest they be accused of going to the well, the band brought some rarely played tracks, including a handful this reviewer has never heard, among all the necessary favorites.
Opening, quite appropriately, with The Last Song and closing with The Close Western, everything in between was a roller coaster. Lyrics seemed to take on new meaning in the context of this performance, theatrics somehow more real. The emotional epitome came at the half way point, when the band revisited the first song they ever wrote together, Innocent Fools, but continued to spike throughout the night – – especially when front man Adam Bentley bantered between songs.
The sadness and regret were plain-faced and bold. As difficult as it is to let go of this band for fans of the music, it seems presumptuous to even begin to imagine an understanding of what this must mean to the seven members of the band, each of whom poured the better part of their youth into a decade of words, music and performance. So when, for an encore, the band eschewed the convention of one last song for a final bow, it’s hard to say it was anything less than appropriate and well deserved.
Although the band may have been laid to rest (if you will pardon the pun), as with any wake, we are reminded to mourn appropriately and celebrate wholeheartedly the life lived, its value measured by its life loved.
And, unlike our mortal existence, we can take solace in knowing there will be an afterlife; the seven talented musicians who comprised this phenomenal bands will continue to make wonderful music separately, the music they have created as a unit will live on through various pieces of etched wax, light and plastic, and digital ones and zeroes that have captured the magic they were able to bottle during its exceptional ten year lifespan.
There is a seven-piece-sized hole in this writer’s heart tonight, but they remaining pieces are filled with love, joy and gratitude for Adam, Anna, Blake, Dwayne, Jordan, Matty and Steve. The Rest may be gone, but they are far from forgotten. Cheers, lady and gentlemen, to ten years well-lived, and to many more well-loved.
[ The recording is finally posted! Unfortunately, it suffers from an analog-to-digital conversion problem that seems to be happening with my gear that causes some distortion and less-than-pristine clear audio… but it’s not horrible! Check out the sample, and enjoy! ]
01. The Last Day
02. Who Knows?
03. Walk on Water (auspicious beginnings)
05. John Huston
07. Apples and Allegories
08. Innocent Fools
10. Laughing Yearning
11. The Lady Vanishes
13. Always On My Mind
15. Modern Time Travel (necessities)
17. The Close Western