Review: Deep Dark Woods live at Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret
Winter in Vancouver can be a cold, dark, wet experience. This past weekend was no exception with near torrential levels of rainfall coming down on a weekend when the city was hosting the Grey Cup–Canadian football’s approximation of the Superbowl.
The rain and the football made for an appropriate backdrop for a show by Saskatchewan’s Deep Dark Woods. The Biltmore Cabaret was packed with a sold out crowd that included more than one out of town visitor from the band’s home province here to catch a game, along with a healthy selection of locals all warmer and happier for being inside one of Vancouver’s best rooms for live music.
The roots infused four piece’s fourth album The Place I Left Behind has done very well (read Doug Heselgrave’s fine review if you haven’t) and it’s twangy lyrics seem to have caught on with a broad range of fans judging by the crowd at the Biltmore, which spanned the full spectrum from red demin-clad hipsters in their CBC Radio 3 scarves to aging and happy hippie. A wide ranging spectrum of fans is always nice to see and speaks to a potential longevity of career uncommon in a band this young.
Performed live, the band’s material picks up a speed a bit and feeds from the crowd’s energy. The quiet finger-picking work of a song like Sugar Mama becomes a full sized theatre filling rock, while the album’s title track The Place I Left Behind retains the full, deep moody feeling the album conveys so well. The musical range on display was impressive.
With the tempo up and lead singer Ryan Boldt’s deep rich voice in fine form (including a good-enough-for-my-ears Elvis impression) it was obvious that a good time was being had by all. The band was quickly joined on stage by Kendel Carson for a pair of numbers. With Carson on fiddle songs were drawn out to include full length musical interludes, giving the entire band an opportunity to stretch its legs and breathe a bit. Moments like this can be boring and self indulgent at times, but not with the level of musicianship on show at the Biltmore: these guys can play.
With lead singer Ryan Boldt planning a a solo album of folk material, a beautiful down-tempo cover of Bob Dylan’s Shake Shake Mama may have been designed to give us a taste of what’s too come. It definitely punched home the unique sound of a band from (perhaps ironically) a place that has few woods and even fewer that are either “deep” or “dark.” Boldt’s vocals combined with the band’s strong musicianship make for as good a night out as you could hope for, and the 400 strong crowd of fans on this cold and rainy night weren’t left wanting.
Deep Dark Woods are touring the down the West Coast to San Francisco through mid-December and have just announced East Cost dates. Details are on their web site.