Stream Team: Reviews Week of June 24

Dave Monks
June 24

The Groovenor hasn’t hosted a live event since the pandemic hit, but that hasn’t stopped the Edmonton house concert venue from supporting its favourite artists. Its fifth online event featured Dave Monks, who celebrated the release of the On A Wave Goes Wild EP June 24. The stripped-down set was a sonic departure for those familiar of Monks’ work with Tokyo Police Club and Anyway Gang, but the songwriting held its own, thanks in part to Alyson McNamara’s accompaniment. McNamara’s seafoam green Danelectro added the perfect colours to Monks’ acoustic work, and her voice similarly complemented his vocals. Add in some fun banter and enjoyable back-and-forth between artist and audience, and the result was a virtual house concert experience that feels like the real thing. —Chuck Teed


Brad Shigeta's Swingtime Band presents: The Music of Duke Ellington
June 25

If you can’t learn from the Duke himself, then 15 years in the legendary Duke Ellington Orchestra is a great consolation. That experience was obvious as trombonist Brad Shigeta—rocking a lime green blazer with black lapels—put on a wildly enjoyable show. Covering tunes that spanned Ellington’s whole career, along with some by his contemporaries and collaborators, it was a masterclass in big band. Accompanied by bassist Noah Gottfritt and drummer Buff Allen, the trio eased through the two sets, adding their own flair to the classics. Ellington may be gone, but his music was alive on Thursday night. —Oliver Crook


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The Crescent Sky
June 27

Zooming in from Vancouver, The Crescent Sky held nothing back, playing the songs from their 2020 album, Wonder, front-to-end, delivering a set that showcased driving vocals, genuine lyrics, and considerable musical talent—cello, guitar, keyboard, and violin. The group counts Phoebe Bridgers, Bon Iver, Ingrid Michaelson, and Regina Spektor among their influences, and their lush harmonies are certainly reminiscent of The Paper Kites. But it’s their earnest optimism that’s most contagious. Dare I say, they’re plucky! It’s a good look. As a group, they clearly enjoy their time together—partners in creative expression, their dedication to craft is evident—and they lead with confidence. It’s also rare to experience an online performance in which the wish wouldn’t be that we could all be in the same room, but together in the mountains, definitely lakeside, “cold, cold to the bone / chasing the warmth of the unknown.” —Julie Wilson


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Oh Susanna
June 29

Playing beneath pink and blue bunting from her East Vancouver apartment, Oh Susanna tucked herself into the corner of her dining room and an intimate set on acoustic and electric guitars. We learned that when she was just 17 years old, she crossed the country to live in Montreal. There, she worked in a deli, serving coffee to Kate and Anna McGarrigle alongside co-worker Melissa Gaboriau Auf der Maur. She walked home in the winter, trying to stay warm as she passed iconic Club Super Sexe, eating hot dogs and listening to country music. Ten years later, she’d learn that Jim Bryson, who would produce some of her more recent albums, also lived in Montreal, at the time. This is how the evening progressed: Oh Susanna sharing the storied details of her life and career in between songs, and in song, about the moments in which we don’t always present the best versions of ourselves, moments of swagger and melancholy and taking chances—the kid who trades in a skateboard for the guitar—each moment as true and lonesome and lovely as the last. —JW