Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
If I Don't Come Home You'll Know I'm Gone
The Wooden Sky at Sonic Boom in Toronto
Frank YangIt’s funny that though I offered readers an introduction to The Wooden Sky just last month, watching them play an in-store at Sonic Boom on Monday night, the eve of release for their new album If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone, it felt like I was the one being introduced to them for the first time.
Previously, I’d regarded them as very good with moments of great roots-rock band – terrific at what they did but unlikely to turn anyone’s world upside down. And initial listens to the new record backed that up – it was a definite step forward for the band in terms of concept and execution, but not a giant leap. But this understated show in the sweaty basement of a local record store was a real eye- and ear-opener. Just coming off a cross-country tour that saw them playing unusual and intimate venues – not for nothing was it called the “Bedrooms and Backtstreets Tour” – The Wooden Sky were perfectly comfortable in the cozy setting and their performance mesmerizing.
Drawing heavily on the new record with a couple selections from When Lost At Sea and a Townes Van Zandt cover thrown in for good measure, The Wooden Sky focused on their quieter side to stunning effect. In stripping things down and trading some of the crescendos on the record for a slow burn, they were able to emphasize their more emotionally resonant side. And while Gavin Gardiner’s raw twang has always been front and centre, I was particularly impressed with how effective and musically sympathetic his bandmates were – guitarist/keyboardist Simon Walker, in particular, was nothing short of astonishing with his high harmonies and the tones and textures he coaxed out of his instruments. It was like he was able to take the ghosts and bittersweet memories that inhabit Gardiner’s lyrics and give them sound and form.
In talking about the Wooden Sky in the past, I inevitable mention that I’ve been following them for over half a decade, as though that gave me some particular insight into the band that newcomers might not have. Now I think that it might have actually clouded my perceptions, convincing me I knew what to expect and what they were capable of when I quite obviously didn’t. Either way, with If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone and the way they’re translating it to the stage, The Wooden Sky are set to take their place as one of the finest bands this city has to offer – or maybe they already were, and we’re only now noticing.
Aux.tv has a rooftop video performance with the band from late last year and the same director – Scott Cudmore – accompanied the band on their recent tour, filming all the while – that footage will be coming out in the coming weeks. There’s also an interview with the band at Sky. Aside from an appearance at the Friends In Bellwoods launch party at the Tranzac on Saturday, The Wooden Sky have no upcoming hometown dates. Americans can get a taste in October, however, as they’re heading south as support for Elliott Brood.
Photos: The Wooden Sky @ Sonic Boom – August 24, 2009
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “North Dakota”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “The Wooden Sky”
Video: The Wooden Sky – “Oh My God (It Still Means A Lot To Me)”
Video: The Wooden Sky – “When Lost At Sea”
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