It’s 9 P.M. and The Drake Underground is nearly empty. Strolling on stage with sunglasses and naked arms. They might not have got the memo that they’re in Canada, or maybe they’re trying to keep up their oddball personas, that normally look like something out of a British magazine in the ’60s .
Who are they? Signed to Dine Alone Records, the trio has two albums, an EP, and two live albums under their belt. Their name might not be known, but they can wrack up quite a hell of a show despite how many people are there. The room is dim and one white light shines down on pasty skin. As the guitar begins, the few that have come to the show have come for them. A slight moshpit breaks out (by moshpit I mean two guys throwing one another around while everyone watches). It’s a melding of 90’s grunge and life from the perspective of a teenage boy.
Waiting on the sideline, watching between the stage–where Nathan Merli stabs the air with his guitar when he’s not commanding the microphone and the two guys throw each other. The energy from on stage leaks through the crowd gaining capacity as the band goes on. They thrive on the music itself as they build off of their own energy. The band throws themselves around the stage as if they were little boys performing for their lives. Part of their charm it’s one of the reasons you must see Heyrocco next time they come to town.
You might linger on the cowboy hat; otherwise you wouldn’t look twice at the guys idle by the stage. Promptly 8:30 strikes and they set their drinks aside and climb onto the stage.
The lights are lit, frontman Joshua Evan’s leaps in the air. Instantaneously, bluesy-rock calls the scattered few toward the scene unfolding. On stage, Evan’s lurks around the band, sweat plasters his hair to his head as his tongue waggles from his mouth. He screams, he falls to the ground and your eyes never leave the deranged rock star. And that’s just the first song. They continue and you realize what talent the Georgia band has. Stage antics aside Muuy Beiin puts on one hell of a show.
The crowd grows, and as time inches on the bodies move towards the stages edge.Australian duo Hockey Dad, Zach Stephenson and Billy Fleming take their places across the stage. One at a drumset, while the other at a mic-stand with a guitar.Touring to promote their second release, Boronia, released August 12th, the two tantalize the crowd with beachy surf-rock, bounds away from the scene that unfolded a half hour ago. A sweetly modest stage presence of the two wouldn’t do justice for one unknown to the band. But as the performance goes on, the crowd’s excitement rises, seeming to bring the band to a satisfying peak, where their music truly shines.
At the Drake Underground, a circle crafted by instruments waits as Max Frost takes his place in the center. Glancing at drumsticks hanging near the stage front, he takes them placing a beat with the drums to his right. With closed eyes he creates a pattern that already has the crowd bopping their heads. Looping the beat it so it plays after he’s grabbed a guitar, he’s already moved on to another instrument at his fingertips.
As the sound is created, energy raises and at the right moment he takes his place at the microphone, nearly missing the queue, but catching it just in time with an unfazed calm lingering on his features. His eyes open and he scans the crowd with far away eyes before closing them once more. From Texas the songwriter/producer looks oddly in out of place in the spotlight. It’s almost as if we’ve caught him in a personal moment as he plays.
The room, it’s full but not uncomfortable. People dance as the mixture of R&B melds into alternative rock; mega fans stare up at him with adoration in their eyes. Unknown to me, I watch with fascination as one person can hold the attention of an entire room to the point silence yet, in the same moment, fill it with liveliness.
“He’s so good.” A girl yells behind, her friend nods and they both take sips from the drinks they hold close to their chins.
Part of the media pool at the front of the stage, the sways of bodies are felt, and the heat from the stage makes itself known as we follow his every movement through our camera lens. The shutters are drown out by the talent on stage and the energy circling. The night goes on like this until Frost ends the show.
The wait will soon be over for Wintersleep fans. Their newest album is set to release March 4th. So close, yet so far. In the meantime, the band stopped by Toronto to preview a little of what fans can expect from the upcoming album, The Great Detachment. Thursday, playing live on The Edge, and then a super secret show at The Drake Hotel, the band gave fans double the chance to check out what’s coming. Here’s some photos of the show at The Drake Underground.