Staff photographer Andrei Chlytchkov drew the assignment of shooting the Mother Mother show at The Phoenix in Toronto on February 28.\ Text by L. Benny Sanders.
A West Coast party broke out at The Phoenix when two bands from British Columbia unleashed their personal brands of sonic harmonies as part of Mother Mother’s Dance and Cry Tour.
From the moment Said the Whale hit the stage until Ryan Guildemond (lead singer and guitarist) of Mother Mother threw his guitar pick into the audience, the house was alive. The crowd was buzzing, bopping and fully involved for the entire event. When I asked Tyler Bancroft (guitar/lead vocals) of Juno Award-winning Said the Whale what he considered was the highlight of the evening, he said that he “felt that the electric energy in the room was palatable.”
Said the Whale opened with “Camio, The Magician” and the fans, many who had been packed at the front waiting for them since the doors opened, gave them a thundering welcome. Core band members Tyler Bancroft, Ben Worcester (vocals/guitar) and Jaycelyn Brown (keyboards) were joined by their drummer Brad Connor and bassist Lincoln Hotchen. It was a set of certified hits, such as “Step Into The Darkness” (5th album), and lots of new material from “Cascadia” including “Record Shop”, “Love Don’t Ask” and the debut from that album “UnAmerican”. The new collection was even available on vinyl at the concert.
Tyler told me that his favourite song of the evening was “Level Best” (their second-to-last number). It is a wonderful tribute to his son, of whom he informed the crowd that he was missing while on tour. “If you start a band. Well, you can use my van. I’ll be in the crowd, doing my level best. I’ll scream with all my might. ‘Cause it’s my level best.” It’s great to have a dad so dedicated to his child. These are lyrics I wish I might have written for my son Jonah, who sang (and played percussion) on stage with me regularly from age 4 to 12 years old.
Said the Whale closed with “I Love You” from their 4th full release, and the “living room party” was closed with a reminder that they’d see everyone tomorrow (March 1st) for a second night at The Phoenix.
When Mother Mother arrived on stage, the house was packed to the back. I mean I-can’t-move-my-arms-to-write packed. Watching the band was almost like being in a live music video. Lights, choreography, and enthusiasm were producer-perfect. The band’s music is so varied in genre that this could have been an entire broadcast on a station without suggesting that only one group was the author.
The set began with booming drones of “I Must Cry Out” smoothly into “Dance and Cry” (both from their 2018 release). Tunes followed from the 2008 O My Heart, the 2014 Very Good Bad Thing (“Monkey Tree” and lead single “Get Out the Way”) and 2017 No Culture (leadoff number “The Drugs” and “Family”). An interesting surprise was when they segued from “Body of Years” into one of Mayerling’s favourites, a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” The treatment of the latter was both interesting and disturbing, but certainly well executed. We even had a campfire sing-along with “Family” and “Dirty Town” (from their 2005 debut Mother and 2008 re-release Touch Up).
In the end, Mother Mother\ members Ryan Guidemond, Molly Guidemond, and Jasmin Parkin (keys/vocals), Ali Siadat (drums) and Mike Young (bass) treated us to music from every one of their eighth albums including their #1 hit “Get Up.” The crowd sang back-up and lead vocals through much of the evening, indicating not only their knowledge of the tunes but their connection to the band itself. They spoiled us to a three-song encore, concluding with “The Stand” (their standout from 2011’s Eureka) and left leaving everyone wishing for more.
is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker.
In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.