Making waves at Starlight

(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta)

The first time I heard of Vancouver-based band, Hey Ocean!, was four years ago when my sister was eager to show me the quirky video for their song “Alleyways”.

Immediately I was hooked. Since then, I have been looking forward to seeing them live, however the opportunity did not arise. That is, until last Wednesday when they performed at Starlight Lounge in Waterloo. It was worth the wait.

Self-proclaimed ‘progressive pop’ band Alvarez Kings opened the evening after arriving on North American soil from England just over two weeks ago to embark on their Canadian tour with Hey Ocean!

Alvarez Kings had the fans immediately captivated as they took charge of the stage. Their enthralling presence and their give-all attitude was clear in every song they played.

Their sound resembles to such as early Arctic-Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club and Vampire Weekend. Their energy was so infectious that the night ended with dozens of new fans lining up to buy Alvarez Kings merchandise, including their new EP Cold Conscience.

This band seemed to have a genuine love for music — something that should not be taken for granted in a culture where popular music has become a business rather than a passion. Their catchy guitar riffs and spine-chilling harmonies leave no doubt in my mind that we will be seeing more of these talented people in the future.

(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta)

With the audience already galvanized from Alvarez Kings, there was an overwhelming excitement in the air when Hey Ocean! took the stage.

The band opened up with their song, “I am a Heart,” where multi-talented lead vocalist Ashleigh Ball flawlessly played the flute-riff at the opening of the song. Despite Ball’s cutesy blonde look, she owned the stage as she lightheartedly danced with the audience and band members, never letting go of an opportunity to engage with her fans.

The other band members, including bass player David Vertesi and guitar player David Beckingham also held their own as they expressed passion and zeal for each song they played.

The band went on to play old hits including “A Song About California” and “Fish,” as well as new hits from their album Is, such as “If I Were A Ship,” Make A New Dance” and “Jolene”.

They ended their set with their catchy single “Big Blue Wave”.

As they got off stage the audience immediately started calling “encore” until finally, the band came back on stage ready to play two final songs.

First, they played their melodic cover of Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” and ended it with their big crowd pleaser “Alleyways”, getting audience members to sing the tune into their microphones.

The concert left the audience smiling and dancing — two things which have all too often been forgotten by this predominantly student-based audience, who are in the midst of the dark-days of midterms.

Alvarez Kings and Hey Ocean! paid homage to the irreplaceability of live music.

(Photo by Cristina Rucchetta)

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