Published Aug 17, 2016There is something totally captivating about watching a guitarist shred their piece with their teeth or a drummer wallop their skins so hard that their arms are mere blurs, especially when the madness is mind-blowingly masterful.
Those moments, which on Tuesday evening (August 16) respectively came from Weaves' Morgan Waters and Spencer Cole, were just one of many instances of musical dexterity during the Toronto four-piece's performance at the Biltmore Cabaret. The uninhibited approach of the group, which also consists of frontwoman Jasmyn Burke and bassist Zach Bines, is a large part of what makes Weaves unique. It's a live manifestation of the almost drunken, no-holds-barred spirit captured on their self-titled debut — an infectious collection of oddball art rock hard to define other than by its dizzying energy — but as the band continue touring in support of the album, Weaves' euphoric bedlam has proven to be even more satisfying when witnessed live.
Deftness and lighthearted spirit were a common thread woven throughout the night, starting with the opening bands. First, Jo Passed, the newest musical project of Joseph Hirabayashi, with his dynamic contrast of noisy psych and hazy melody. Then Jay Arner, whose dreamy synth was grounded by nimble guitar and thick bass. Both Hirabayashi and Arner contributed their own types of light-versus-dark zeal, which fittingly primed the climate and the crowd for the voracious exuberance that would engulf the room when Weaves took to the stage.
As Weaves plugged in, cosmic sound effects and harrowing shrieks of feedback indicated their arrival. Burke, wearing a red silk floral dress, paced about the stage with a smile across her lips as her bandmates hunched over their instruments in contribution to the screaming introduction. The crowd whooped when she broke out into the first verse of "Birds & Bees," her voice wonderfully angular against the warped guitar.
While dynamic percussion and sunshiny chords made the Calypso-like undertones of "Coo Coo" shine even more joyously than they do on the record, many cuts were given improvisational treatments, which only further highlighted the musical talents of the band members. On "Sentence," after Bines scaled his bass and Cole joined in with taut drums, the song descended into a whirlwind of psychedelic thrash, which saw all of Weaves lose themselves in the noise.
Then, a woozy instrumental jam (which incited twist dancing from the crowd) transitioned into "Motorcycle," which progressed into spectacular individual showings of bass, guitar and drums. Through it all, Burke's vocals added a kind of soulfulness to the creative chaos, her organ simultaneously sweet and skewed, with squeals peppering each song.
Aside from obvious adroitness and artistry, what truly makes Weaves great to experience live is the fact that they're having fun. Yes, it's obvious in the personality and in the arrangements of the music, but, most notably, it's in way they interact with one another. This was clear throughout the evening, but was most apparent on "Two Oceans," where Burke and Bines shared the mic to sing the chorus, only to erupt in laughter in between verses.
It was a vigour that equally intoxicated the crowd, who, after demanding an encore, stood in a line that stretched across the venue to buy a shirt from the band.