Ignoring the news that hailstones the size of golf balls were headed our way, a core crowd of about fifty souls continued to stand in a mostly grassless field. Braving the sheets of rain and lightening (not to mention the cowboys), we were all there to cheer on the local bands featured in the 'Alberta Rocks' showcase at the Calgary Stampede.
The first act up was Calgary's Joshua's Habit. Jumping right into their upbeat rock, the four-piece instantly brought the energy level of the listless crowd up. With songs featuring lightweight lyrics, the Habit's music is made for having fun.
Lead singer Travis P. has vocals that are akin to High Holy Days; deep and throaty but still oh-so-smooth. The standout member of Joshua's Habit has to be The Gooch though. No, this is not some mascot, but the drummer. He was incredibly tight and inventive, and I'm sure he's never heard that the drummer's only job is to provide a strong downbeat.
Creating the sort of singable rock that Canada is quickly becoming known for, Joshua's Habit is perfectly poised to take over Much Music (well, if they had a video). Although there seemed to be a lot of friends and family of the Habit in the audience, the band surely made quite a few new fans.
Hailing from Edmonton, Sugakane was the next act to sing in the rain. Completely misrepresented in their recordings, Sugakane's live set was a surprising delight. With just five people on stage, they managed to create a sound much bigger than seemed possible. Pulling elements of Pink Floyd (and therefore Muse and their Canadian counterparts Welkin) into their music, Sugakane drew the crowd into a world of ethereal beauty.
Lead singer Andrew Misle possesses one of those voices that keep the listener completely engaged. Even though Misle's vocals are enough to carry himself, it seems he's taken in one too many Jagger performances than is good for the health. At times his strutting and posturing took away from the music.
Pulling both keyboard and bass duties, Tyler Wollmann was the main player in Sugakane's encompassing sound. Throughout the entire set the keyboard constantly droned on, its lulling tone emitting from the speakers in pulsing waves. The combination of lush arrangements and warbling vocals resulted in the perfect music for a rainy day, as it were. They closed with U2's 'Where The Streets Have No Name', and actually pulled it off quite nicely.
The rain then decided to come down like tiny but very pointy darts. With lightening flashing and thunder cracking, the fittingly named Seventh Rain took the stage. This was the Calgary band's second time performing at the Stampede, and it was obvious they had some experience under their hats.
The four members of Seventh Rain easily made everyone present feel vital to the show. Inciting mad mud po-going and soaked-hair-head-banging with their radio-friendly rock, they were the first band to truly connect with the crowd. Then again it might have been the weather. After all, there's nothing like a torrential downpour to bring band and audience together.
Before anyone knew it, Seventh Rain was called off stage and we were left standing in the middle of a thunderstorm watching the next act setup. Suddenly brought down from the high that Seventh Rain created, I began to notice how cold and wet I really was. I would've liked to stay, but when your fingers start to prune, you know the party's over.
Writer: Jaclyn Arndt