"I have a contest for you guys, 'cause I'm a teacher and I'm a geek!" Kate Maki challenges her audience, "Who can guess this person?" The mystery is solved when Jim Bryson is revealed as her partner on stage. The two launch into "Strangest Dream", a rolling, contentedly weary song. "It's the only sad number in today's set," announces Maki, "Now we're going to cut loose!" She begins playing a jumpy, fast-paced number, sharing her stage with the members of El Torpedo, and follows it up by busting into March Blues - "I had the blues in March!" she laughs, "I was a teacher!" - a bluesy number that she just belted out, hitting all the high, twangy notes perfectly.
Charming, chatty and easily likeable, Maki drew the crowd in at Reverb last Friday night with her candid bantering, rollicking tunes and a few history lessons. If there's one thing to be learned at this show, it is Do Quit Your Day Job. I'm sure she was a lovely teacher, but Maki seems so happy performing, her country roots sound is so natural and fresh, and her energy so infectious, it's clear that she is in her element up on stage - although she manages to combine the two worlds in a strangely effortless way. As a throwback to her days of teaching Canadian history to 13 year olds, she cajoles us all to sing along with her for the last song. "You all get straight A's," she yells at the end.
Next onstage is Nathan Lawr and The Minotaurs, who play a good follow-up to Maki's set. They play a slower, heavier set, the highlights being their self-described "slow-dancin' number" and their last song, a beautiful gem of guitar work, at once both melancholy and uplifting.
After what seems to be ages, the much-hyped Feist hits the stage solo dressed all in white. Fresh from Paris, she bids the audience bon soir and begins a sparse, sultry number. Her show is unique and impressive, as she records herself while singing, delicately layering her voice and harmonizing with herself while adding simple percussion. She commands the stage, even though she's playing without her band, and her uncomplicated sounds seem so fresh. It's a pretty sexy show, although unfortunately short.
Last but not least, cute Despistado performed, and despite amp troubles at the beginning of their set, they still manage to rock. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of the show because at that point I had just been at Reverb for way too long. I regret it now. I would've liked to see a full set by them. Their songs were energetic and punchy, and they're just really cute.
Altogether a highly satisfying night.
Writer: Fiona McLean