Let’s start this off with a little confession: I wasn’t prepared to see Good For Grapes. It had been a busy build-up I hate admitting I don’t know things and this hatred forces me to research, to get my ears ready for any new musical experiences I’m about to take in. I like to have context and maybe a passing knowledge of the lyrical content of the songs. I just wasn’t up to it this week. With the long, drawn-out death of my Grandmother at hand, my mind had been nowhere near music of any kind and the thought of going to see these guys wasn’t particularly exciting. It wasn’t a personal thing, I just wasn’t ready to process new music. No matter where my mind was, I told myself I wasn’t going to pass up seeing a new BC band that I’d heard some rumblings about. This was the only song I’d heard. (Though I didn’t remember it until I saw them play it.)
Nothing bad, to be sure, but kind of out of my wheelhouse. (By the way, that song was more awesome live.) And, having just left my Grandmother’s bedside a few hours before, I assumed I was going to see some Mumford-esque modern folk (What’s the deal with this whole movement anyways? I haven’t quite figured it out yet.) which isn’t really on my radar, but nothing I’m offended by. In fact, maybe it would be a nice, relaxing set of music that I would, at best, settle down my nerves and caress me gently with some acoustic guitars for its length. I’ve always rather liked acoustic guitars and they are still a source of great comfort, even as my palette moves into heavier bass and darker, grimier tones. Turns out, these Good For Grapes characters have as much in common, if not more, with that side of the musical spectrum as they do with those folky roots I was kind of, sort of, (but not really) dreading. Their bass is heavy and elastic, their drums powerful and definitive. This is, apparently, groove-shaking folk.
I was treated to a fucking barn-burner of a set. The ultra-cool, highly attractive crowd was grooving and shaking their asses for nearly the entire set, eagerly clapping along when called upon. This is a feat in Victoria, a well-known hipster stronghold. I wasn’t simply comforted through the worries happening in my world outside of Lucky Bar, I was forced to forget them, if only for an hour, with vigorous rhythmic shaking. (This made photography exceedingly difficult for most of the show.)
“Era’s End,” a pretty little song to be sure, ended with singer Daniel McBurnie gently crooning “…with a smile on my face,” and was most definitely a source of comfort for me during these tricky times. I quickly found myself compelled to dance as songs like “Skipping Stone” brought the energy levels higher than I could have expected. The highlight here was “London Fog.” An older song in the band’s small yet ever growing catalogue, “London Fog” has obviously been honed to a fine point and burns like a Viking funeral pyre. The song is some serious shit in a live setting. The sinewy guitar work of guitar slinger Graham Gomez really took center stage here and drew me in. Dude has some serious power-rock moves going on.
Serious props need to be given to accordion player (Accordionist? Accordioner? ) Sean MacKeigan for his ability to play said instrument while jumping around in the smallest of spaces. It didn’t look easy in the least and he pulled it off with all the Bavarian swag you could imagine.
The title track from their new record, “Man on the Page,” was a strange choice for the end of the set. It’s another pretty song, no doubt, but it really pulled the energy down from previous highs and I struggled to pick it back up. Though, this may say more about the state of mind I was in rather than the song’s qualities. No matter, though. On a night that I sort of dreaded trying to wrap my mind around new music, Good for Grapes did what every good band should be able to do: They took me somewhere else, even for 45 minutes, and helped me escape the worldly bullshit weighing me down. I’m still not an expert on the band, but I can say with all sincerity that you should go check these cats out if they swing by you. Even if you think it’s not your bag, you’re probably going to leave with a smile on your face. Really, Good for Grapes is really just a solid fucking band.