Ottawa’s Dragonboating Festival Day Two – Said the Whale

by Erin Red

Said The Whale

Day two of the Dragonboat festival brought even more fantastic weather and even more fantastic music. Today’s fare? Said the Whale.

With my first Said the Whale making my “best concerts of the year” and the second not quite living up to the standard, I was interested to see what today’s show would bring. Despite a somewhat disappointing sound mix (vocals were not nearly loud enough, at some points making it difficult to even hear the words at all) the band put on their regular, cheerily adorable, show. With Ben all covered in sunburn, and Tyler in fine form, pulling his classic I-used-to-sing-in-a-punk-band faces, they were as entertaining as ever. Looking around you could really tell that a lot of the crowd were there purely for the show, and hadn’t watched or rowed in a single race all day.

Sometimes when you go to a festival, there is a small devoted band of fans right up at the front (present tonight, though a fairly large group), behind whom are dozens of festival-goers who have never heard of the band. Sometimes it stays that way for the duration. Sometimes though, the crowd grows, and the unsuspecting table-dwellers become fans themselves. As someone who is usually right up front, this is an especially fun experience as you don’t see the crowd growing until it is suddenly huge. One song has a regular amount of singing along, a regular amount of clapping, then suddenly the audience volume in next song is much much louder. You look back and are faced with three or four times the number of people standing behind you, all dancing along… And it’s not just the strangers either!

It’s always fun to introduce friends to a new band, and tonight it was also the first time for two of mine. One of them made it through only one or two songs before declaring “Erin, I think I officially have developed a crush” on the always “fedorable” (aka adorable and wearing a fedora) Ben, while the other found Tyler’s resemblance to David Tennant infinitely amusing… They also loved the music, but that kind of goes without saying…!

Mixing newer material like “Lines” and “Big Sky,” with old favourites like “Camilo the Magician,” “False Creek Change,” and “Black Day in December,” the show was well paced and energetic. I’m always impressed with the way in which Said the Whale weave new songs into their mix. Beginning by asking the audience to indulge them, blasting through the new material, then quickly following it up with a well known ditty, means you don’t get the normal frustration at not being able to sing along to a song you’ve never heard before. The first of these two new offerings is bound to become a staple, while the second seemed to need a bit more polishing (I wouldn’t be surprised if it sounded a bit different by September’s Ottawa Folkfest, but every other song in the set? Fantastic.

By the end they definitely had the [ever expanding] audience hooked. After ending off with “Camilo,” they were faced with cheers of “One more song! One more song!” that were loud enough and persistent enough for Ben to come back out and tell us “We’d love to, we really would but we’re not allowed! Thank you guys so much! Really, so much!” An encore would have been amazing, but I guess we’ll just have to wait for their return in September.  Well done Said the Whale- yet another triumph of playing through a bad mix and coming out on top. Lets hope September’s Folkfest gives them the opportunity to shine without having to keep asking for their mics to be turned up…!

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