Live Review: Hey Ocean!/Current Swell/The Zolas January 6, 2010

Originally appearing in Beatroute Magazine.


Photo by Paul Boechler

To talk about Hey Ocean! is, inexorably, to talk about Vancouver music as a whole. Being cogent of this fact, the band decided to put a tidy little cross section of the scene up on the marquee at the Vogue on December 18.

The Zolas started the night and set the bar incredibly high. The brainchild of Zach Gray and Tom Dobrzanski playing their first show in Vancouver (despite it being their hometown) added an effortlessness and charisma that only enhanced some undeniably strong tracks off their latest, Tic Toc Tic. Current Swell sought to clear the bar and did so admirably, their neo-blues stylings meshing oddly well with the bookending acts. Their tight set was a credit to a sound they have nurtured to maturity over three albums. Hey Ocean! took to the stage with the buzz of the crowd hovering at a dull roar and managed that energy expertly with a commanding performance.

The show was a worthy milestone in each of the bands’ respective legends. Gathering three of the most talked about Vancouver (and Victoria) bands under one roof for a pre-Christmas show was exactly the no-brainer it seemed. The Zolas racked up a truckload of new fans, Current Swell cemented their status as one of the west coast’s most creative and entertaining group of musicians, and Hey Ocean! used their time at the Vogue to prove what most of the crowd already knew: that their talents are every bit as deserving of headliner status as any band working today. Add in guest appearances by Said the Whale and Dan Mangan and you have an almost parodic number of Vancouver’s finest in one room (and, sometimes, singing into one mic).

Hey Ocean! is, at this point in their career, living up to every shred of hype and promise they have cultivated. They can do seemingly anything; whether imbuing old songs with new meaning and dimension (“Fish,” “Fifteen Words”) or cranking out some remarkable new material (“Last Mistake”), they’re a young band looking like consummate professionals. They capped off a night of music that made it patently clear that any discussion of Vancouver music omitting the three acts is incomplete, and that they are all more than worthy of being remembered as highlights of the closing decade.