06 We Could Forever
People never cease to surprise me. Bonobo, sold out? Like, really sold out? No-scalpers-around-big-long-line-people-looking-for-tickets-everywhere, that kind of sold out? What can I say; I was surprised to hear he was coming in the first place. Maybe there’s a largely untapped market for downtempo music in the city, or maybe I underestimated the power of his show during this year’s Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
Due to the aforementioned line, I made it inside halfway through Tokimonsta’s opening set. That I could hear the music clearly over the abnormally large crowd was an unexpected good sign. People can talk over music at any volume, after all. I’m still not sure if Tokimonsta is just a DJ, or if there were originals in the mix, but I enjoyed it either way. For the most part, musically, her defining quality was both a blessing and a curse. As I listened, it was easy to pick out changes in the feel of the music, or song selection, but the feeling I got never swayed too far. That she, Tokimonsta, is able to make such different types of music feel exactly the same is probably a great asset DJ-wise. On paper, the idea isn’t as spectacular sounding. I’ve heard negative reviews of the half of her set that I missed too, so, who knows. Maybe I’m just a sucker for “Xxplosive”.
From the moment the lights dimmed and the band walked out, a great show was all but confirmed. Having eight musicians onstage, including horns and a flute (!) can do that. The opener “Pick Up” began with said flute and drums, but grew until all present stood together, delivering a letter of intent to the audience. “Flutter” followed, providing another example of a more slight sound on the album being beefed up for the stage.
It was after that introduction that the Black Sands material began. Understandably, the already meatier songs from the new album benefited well from the band configuration. With the brass front and centre, flanked by drums and keyboards, it was hard not to focus on them, even in the songs where they contributed little more than the accents to a phrase. Andreya Triana, the featured vocalist on many tracks from Black Sands, joined the band a few songs in with “Stay the Same,” and would come and go for the rest of the show. She obviously has a very strong voice, and having her there contributed to the feel of the show the same way Martina Topley-Bird did for Massive Attack a few months ago (albeit in a more upbeat way).
It stayed great until the set closing of “El Toro”. Already one of the weightiest songs on the album, they took the rest of the show’s great and raised it to incredible. After a strong, brass heavy opening, the band left the stage for the best drum solo imaginable from a guy in a 59Fifty. After a good time alone, the aforementioned flutist took the stage to join in the solo on the saxophone, alternating with high pitched squeals and low blasts. Their energy rose as time went on, and by the time the rest of the band retook to the stage, a bomb could have gone off and not distracted the audience. One joint near me made its way to well over a dozen people. One! After that, an encore was more of a formality. A well performed and enjoyed formality. I wasn’t at their show back in June of this year, but I can’t see how it could have been better than this.