Over the weekend, I happened to catch two of my favorite acts, Jesca Hoop and Shearwater. I wrote about both bands in the past, but those articles were more about their most current releases, an album of covers by Shearwater, and a re-imagined and stripped down version of Jesca Hoop’s fantastic 2009 album Hunting My Dress. Neither of which are the best indicators of what these two are capable of. And really, haven’t you been to a show so good you want to tell the world about it? Luckily for some of you, these two will be joined by the also great Death Vessels in Montreal on Wednesday at Le Divan Orange and Thursday in Toronto at Horseshoe Tavern. It may be bit of a trip from Ottawa, but it’ll be well worth it, as these two put on an absolutely fantastic show together.
When I wrote about Californian singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop a few weeks ago, I focused on her latest release, Undress, where she took songs from her album Hunting My Dress and stripped them down to their bare bones of guitar and voice. While Undress is indeed a beautiful album, it only paints part of the portrait of Jesca Hoop. The album she released prior was The House That Jack Built, a great record with some rockers, even dancy stuff, electronics and effects. Hoop’s music is delicate and vulnerable at times, haunting and beautiful, and her voice is one of the finest in music. Singing songs about breaking an arm just for attention, (Hospital) or as she described, someone she met, born with their heart outside of their chest (Born To). Live, she plays these songs by herself, almost mirroring her Undress experience. But she plays songs from all albums, and it turns some of the more upbeat songs from The House That Jack Built into gorgeous, ethereal, heart wrenching music that makes the Jesca Hoop concert experience feel quite intimate.
Austin Indie rock band Shearwater’s latest effort, Fellow Travelers was a fun record, but didn’t give you the full awesomeness that is Jonathan Meiburg and crew (which includes Hoop on keyboard and vocals on the current tour). Their album before Fellow Travelers, Animal Joy was one of my favorites of 2012. It’s really hard to pin Shearwater down to a specific genre, sure, there’s a little bit of alt-country and folk in there, but that’s not really all they’re about. These guys rock pretty hard, and they do a lot of different things compared to their contemporaries. Each song is different from the next, you have the really great “You As You Were”, the rocking “Breaking The Yearlings”, and epic “Star Of The Age”, which are part of their live show which features tracks like their energetic cover of “I Luv The Valley OH!” and their much slower track, “A Wake for the Minotaur” which was originally performed with Meiburg and Sharon Van Etten on vocals, but for their live show they are joined by Jesca Hoop, which, as a fan of both Van Etten and Hoop, I think is a really special moment.
When Shearwater and Hoop share the stage, there’s so much positive energy in the venue. Hoop plays keyboard for them, and is admittedly not a great keyboardist, but her voice, energy, and her dancing adds a lot to what Shearwater does on stage. I highly recommend checking out this show if you’re in Toronto or Montreal, (or Grand Rapids or Chicago if you’re in the States) or feel like driving to either, this is a tour you don’t want to miss.
above photo of Jonathan Meiburg from Sub Pop records
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