Local band ‘destined for great, big things’

Photo by Zach Guitor

Photo by Zach Guitor

TORONTO, Ont. — The City of Waterloo has incredible music, you just have to listen a little closer. In a desperate Google search for local bands, I stumbled upon Waterloo-based Love Banshee, a group rooted in folk, 20s jug band and garage rock music. Tragically, this Waterloo outfit goes largely ignored by the student population.

The band’s discography spans decades of influence, from “groddy rolling” folk tunes to “slither lump” rock and roll, as the band has seen numerous lineup changes.

“We’ve had all kinds of line ups … three guitars, bass, drums and eight violins,” guitarist Bill Howard said.

The band recently played a show in Toronto at the novel Dundas Video. The venue is outfitted with familiar tungsten lighting, a staple for any hipster dive bar and a chalkboard in constant rotation of Ontario craft beer. Clichés aside, Dundas Video sticks out from the crowd with its inclusion of vintage arcade and video games strewn sporadically throughout the space, making this a hotspot for local nostalgia-seekers to geek out.

Love Banshee shuffled into the dimly lit bar carrying vintage equipment and instruments. Singer D.H. Thompson positioned his chrome microphone, a piece likely twice his age, at the base of the stage. The tone of the microphone emulated the warm, trebled reverb that dominates their latest release “Fog.” In fact, the overall sound of their set stayed true to the warm lo-fi tone of their studio releases, largely due in part to the band’s use of analog tape for all their recordings.

“You don’t have to look at a screen all day, it’s all in your ears, just push a button,” said Howard.

Thompson opened the set with a signature howl, undercut by the infectious backing vocals of drummer Willie Ames. The timbre of their voices possessed an innocent romance that upheld the entire set, giving each song a sense of warmth and meaningful presence.

Manning the spotlight with impressive stage presence was bassist Marc Adams, whose strutting bass lines pulsated energy throughout the set. In stark contrast to Thompson’s rolling strum was Howard’s slithering and crunching lead guitar that consistently impressed, and emerged the standout feature of the performance. Howard’s soulful intuition was evident as his hands glided over his fret board.

The set was dominated by the sounds of garage-rock and noise pop, surprising given the strong folk roots of their latest release. Speaking to Thompson, the singer motioned that two new songs planned for release are a departure from the folk sound.

“The last album was more like a folk album, and primarily acoustic … this one is all electric, garage and pop,” said Thompson.

Despite plans to release the songs as a seven-inch, the singer pointed out that the music scene in the Kitchener-Waterloo region has hit a slump in recent times, leading the band to consider a drastic overhaul.

“It sucks to be our band in our city,” said Thompson.

Harsh, but not unfounded.

The K-W music scene is certainly not what it used to be, as many of the once prominent underground groups have either relocated or dissolved. Given this, the band is planning to relocate to the San Francisco Bay Area indefinitely.

Leaving behind their post at The Duke of Erb studio, the four-piece will journey in search of audiences to inspire and experiences to shape their creative output. The Bay Area is certainly a place where bands that share the same “do it yourself” spirit can flourish and succeed without compromising their craft. While it is sad to see them go, Love Banshee is destined for great, big things.

In Waterloo, great, big things come in tech startups and nuclear families. Losing one of Waterloo’s finest may just motivate residents to support the city’s growing arts scene.

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