Before I get into the actual review of the show, I must rant, just a little. This band drove over 3000 miles to a small venue in Toronto to film a spot for Rave TV (not available in Canada) and to promote their debut album. As a fairly young band battling for exposure in the supersaturated indie world these days, getting your face out there is top priority. Why then would you refuse photos? Especially, noninvasive, no flash photos that will accompany a review of your show. I know a lot of these decisions are not even made by the band but by "the powers that be" in control of their destiny. Here's a tip for those "powers", let the people take photos(lots of them) and even small video clips. In a MySpace and YouTube inspired culture, music circulates readily over the internet and can take a band from obscurity to a gig on Lettermen, i.e. Chicago's OK GO. Ranting done.
After a forty-five minute delay, Stars of Track and Field (SOTAF) came out like rock stars, their every step painstakingly recorded by one of six cameras focused on them that night. Dressed in all black with odd silky scarves wrapped around their necks (protecting the vocal chords?), lead vocalists Jason Bell and Kevin Calaba led us right into their harmony laden lush sound.
The too short hour set, offered up a sampling of what the three piece are capable of delivering. From rich atmospheric Floyd influenced songs (I'm sure I heard "wish you were here" in their lyrics") to the heavier stop and go of "Centuries", their sound is solid. Sans a bass, the band employs ripping guitars and the multi-talented percussionist, Dan Orvik on everything from the drum kit to a laptop to the accordion. The result is a hypnotic and textural overlay of electronic sounds paired with beautiful vocal harmonies.
Playing most of the songs off their debut album Centuries Before Love and War, SOTAF did not disappoint this exclusive crowd of contest winners. Most were familiar with at least a few of their tunes but one lucky fan stood out as she actually new the last song on their album and got herself a beer from the band. The overzealous crowd got lots of interaction from Bell and Calaba as they had some time to fill while tuning guitars or fixing the various technical mishaps. "One day when we're big rockstars, we'll have some guys handing us tuned guitars," dreamed Calaba. "Yeah and the camera guy will stop unplugging my guitar!" added Bell.
Through all the mechanical adversity, the music prevailed. We were even treated to a "world premiere" joked Bell, of a brand new song penned in the van, "Slide Away". A gorgeous two part harmony ditty, done acoustically with Orvik gently oozing out a few chords on the accordion. The follow up tune, also acoustic, had the same organic flavour but featured all three vocalists in perfect synchronization. Hearing the blend of this trio's ethereal pipes defines SOTAF. Gorgeous.
Sure all the starts, stops, waiting and having to hear a song twice(a camera glitch), made for a choppy performance but these guys held on and entertained throughout. Their definitely worth checking out when they return to T.O at the Mod Club, May 25.
For more on SOTAF visit www.starsoftrackandfield.com.
Writer: Lisa Kerr