Said the Whale spreads the love
The Vancouver indie-rock outfit is offering deep dives and new arrangements online.
Like many artists affected by the pandemic, Said the Whale saw its entire show slate fall apart once self-isolation rules were in place.
“It’s wiped out about 80 percent of our annual income this year,” says Tyler Bancroft from his home in Vancouver. “We had a pretty good summer lined up, and every show’s been cancelled. To have a little bit of income trickling in from this is something that creates a lot of optimism at a time when we were feeling pretty bleak.”
That income comes directly from the indie-rock trio’s slate of Side Door gigs, which kicked off with a pair of shows on May 1 and was followed by an episode of their Demoitis podcast last weekend (the next one is a full performance of 2008’s Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia on May 17).
For the May 1 streams—broken into Daylight and Moonlight to accommodate multiple time zones from their base on the west coast of Canada—each member set up in their respective homes: Bancroft and Ben Worcester with their guitars, and Jaycelyn Brown (it was her birthday) in front of keys. Each songwriter took a turn playing STW jams, and Brown played classical selections and “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child.
“We can’t be together at the moment and you can’t play [at the same time] online because of latency issues, so it made sense to do a songwriter in the round,” says Bancroft. “Zooming out on it and doing my best job of being objective about it, it made a more entertaining show than a typical live show. instead of having one person on a soapbox the whole time. I liked that we were able to talk amongst ourselves. If i had to do it all myself I’d be having a panic attack.”
Like everyone, Bancroft has seen his fair share of livestreams during this time, and appreciates what this paid model has to offer fans as opposed to a “quick and dirty” approach like Instagram.
“The production value’s higher, the interaction’s more intentional, nobody has balked at $8 for the show they’re getting,” he says. “Since the pandemic has hit we’ve had so many messages from people asking how they can support us, because people know that income that relies on large gatherings of people have been wiped out. There was somebody who bought 50 tickets to the show on Friday just a gesture—I tried to convince the person not to, and he wouldn’t listen. It’s above and beyond and makes our hearts swell.”
After this weekend’s show the band will decide whether others will be added to the docket. Bancroft sounds like he’s leaning toward yes. “The idea is that we're going to do this as a unique style of show,” he says. “Honestly we couldn’t and wouldn’t do these shows in any kind of touring setting because we don’t have a large enough fanbase to draw people.
“We’re gonna do things we couldn’t typically do and justify them with this new platform, and this way of bringing together people who care deeply.”