Real Live Action

Ilya Krivo

w/ Chris Blaber, Lax Phobia

240 Northern St.; June 8, 2019

Joy Astudillo

With a divided political system, the constant intertwining of beliefs and facts and climate change looming over everything, it’s easy to become despondent. But with a heartfelt expression on raw emotion and moral honesty, Ilya Krivo’s album release show offered a reprieve from the seemingly bleak reality in which we live.

But before I can get to Krivo’s performance, I must address the serene welcome Lax Phobia gave to the audience, whose performance set the mood of the event perfectly. While complimenting the rising and falling scales cascading out of the piano with drum beats that became more prominent as time progressed, the intermingling sounds from the two instruments began to mimic each other’s behaviours, giving off a sonorous, ringing sound. In other words, Lax Phobia’s instrumental piece sounded like a conversation taking place between two musical voices. As piano notes trickled by and showers of drum beats flickered along, the audience’s expression gradually relaxed from scrutiny. Gentle smiles emerged on several faces, while others diverted their gazes from looking around the poster decorated room to face the performance. 

Chris Blaber continued this tranquility through his one hour sonic exploration with mellow sounds escaping from his electronic stereo, steady drum beats and his serene facial expression. Blaber’s performance ultimately shed more light on the thematic purpose of the show as he displayed props — a string of bottle caps, a flat slip of plastic slammed upon his drums and an image of the ocean’s underwater landscape. A repetition of “plastic” and facts of climate deterioration escaped from the speakers. After an hour, we were met with a brief intermission, allowing ourselves a chance to reflect on our observations of the abstract, yet emotionally expressive images splattered across the walls.

After the intermission, the lighting became warmer, as a single string of light bulbs were left to illuminate the room. Before the night ended, Ilya Krivo (with his cigar box mandolin) and the rest of his bandmates — Martin Reisle (cello), Spencer Swarts (drums) and John Evanson (pedal steel) — entered the room, charming us with wide-brimmed hats. With Krivo’s opening lines “There’s nothing dead about the sea / Only the people that you see,” from the first song off Kingdom Went,Nothing Dead,” the set seamlessly transitioned from Blaber’s environmentally-focused performance. The lyrics from the following songs began to move away from this theme, veering more towards honest expressions of the emotional turmoil inside the human heart.

Krivo’s last song “Dancing with Dogs,” drew ohhs and ahhs from the audience — there was something deeply intimate within the bluntness of the lyrics. It did more than express an emotional experience belonging to the singer: it provided the audience a roadmap to an understanding of the weight of knowledge and the clarifications that come out of knowledge gained. 

Although the show came to an end, the audience’s gaze remained hypnotized to the lead singer and his bandmates. The emotional honesty of “Dancing with Dogs” had so much forwardness in it, I found myself breathless with the weight of moral clarity it provided. Several shouts of “one more!” resounded within the colourfully decorated room, encouraging Krivo and his bandmates to play the “Nothing Dead” one more time. The wise finality of Krivo’s performance that day revived Blaber’s environmental purpose for his music, reminding the audience that the reality we live in is subject to change.