Stabilo Animate 'Happiness and Disaster'

Mod Club
May 26, 2006
Walking into The Mod Club, there was no doubt that I was in the right place to see Stabilo. The wistful artwork from their new album Happiness and Disaster was chic and shown all around the club. From the backdrop to the two large screens to the plasma behind the bar, the crew got the message across: this was Stabilo's night.

The band hit the stage at around 10pm to the delight of a crowd of mostly twentysomethings with a few scattered over thirtysomethings. No matter what age, they were all here to see the band that has been slowly but surely creeping its way up the Canadian Music charts. The stage was lit with hues of red and blue with the backdrop and screens displaying images ranging from roaring fires to dreamy floating hearts throughout the night. The band would be filming tonight's performance which probably accounts for the extra effort put into lighting and stage set, very effective.

This four piece got things started with a few songs from their first EMI record Cupid? Chris John ripped through a guitar solo early in the evening, which cemented the high energy atmosphere for the rest of the set. Jesse Dryfhout started out on acoustic and seamlessly switched it up all night. Bassist, Karl Willioume, cute and shy disposition kept it all real. Nathan Wylie on percussion hammered out a rock and soulful beat. Kevin Young was a welcome guest on keyboards.

Maybe it was all the cameras recording their every move but the guys seemed a little nervous and almost reserved at the beginning of the night. As they played through most of the tracks from the new album, they embraced the passion from the crowd and were more at ease. We even managed to get a few fleeting smiles from Karl, which the ladies down in front seemed to enjoy.

A few highlights came from Chris and Jesse's dueling guitar riffs in songs like "Don't Look in Their Eyes" and the more up beat tempo "Habit". "Don't Be So Cold" has an odd stylistic beat which compliment the great vocals from Dryfhout. These guys change guitars as often as they switch up lead vocals, which make for an original reverberation with every song.

If the growing crowd wasn't captivated by now, they certainly were when the much-lauded "Everybody" and "Flawed Design" blasted through the club. These catchy ditties infused with bits of acoustic rock had everyone toe tapping, singing along and raising their hands in the air. The title track "Happiness and Disaster", which is rapidly gaining popularity on iTunes, and the next single "Kidding Ourselves" are sure to be the next top 10 hits for Stabilo.

Two songs that stood out for me were "Coffee Spills" and "Beautiful Madness". The smooth upper register lead vocals of Chris John on "Coffee Spills" is perfectly complimented by Jesse's harmonious interludes. On "Beautiful Madness", the roles are reversed and it's Jesse Dryfhout's formidable vocals that prevail with Chris accompanying on keyboards and offering the choral background. Both were equally enthralling performances that transmitted us away to another time and place.

It is this unique equilibrium between these two virtuoso musicians that provide audacious, smart yet angsty intriguing songs. Although it's hard to peg down their musical style exactly, their vocal harmonies are reminiscent of the folk of Simon and Garfunkel with a mix of acoustic rock and a touch of 90's grunginess. Whatever their sound is, it's working for Stabilo and it's beautiful.

For more on Stabilo visit

Writer: Lisa Kerr

Photo:Lisa Kerr

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