Port Cities + What If Elephants + Vikki Gilmore Live @ La Vitrola

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Port Cities + What If Elephants + Vikki Gilmore Show Review

There was a strong force pushing me to attend this event at La Vitrola tonight. With a fierce wind at my back, I drove from Toronto without delay to make sure I attended tonight’s show with Vikki Gilmore, What If Elephants and Port Cities.  

As an attendee, I was pushed to the venue, then pulled into this performance, but as an artist, as described in “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, it’s the opposite.  There is a resistance, a barrier that an artist has to push against and cross. For them, it’s like going against the wind.  

Once an artist can push against the resistance of the inner monologues of self-doubt and they put the required efforts to hone their craft, their reward awaits them. The stage accepts them.

That was the case tonight with all three bands, but maybe more so with What If Elephants, as Joey explained the choice for the name.  We will address this soon enough.  

Both the stage and the crowd not only accepted all three bands, but they let them into their sacred place:  the heart.

Vikki Gilmore

Vikki’s set was well received by the crowd tonight and even managed to loosen a few up to dance in front of the stage.  While I enjoyed her covers of “Wicked Games” by Chris Isaak and “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, it was the originals that allowed her to shine.  Songs like “Home” and my favorite “Forgiveness.” 

Victoria Gilmore
Victoria Gilmore

I was at first distracted by a feedback buzz in the stage left speaker.  During those original songs, the distractions didn’t matter as the delivery was captivating in every way.

“Forgiveness” introduced us to the youngest performer tonight, somewhere between an infant and a toddler, this newcomer briefly stole the show.

Port Cities

Living in Montreal, you would have to be living under a rock to have not heard “Montreal” on the radio.  I guess, in that situation, not having a radio would be the least of your worries.  

Port Cities @ La Vitrola

Port Cities put on a strong performance filled with quite humorous anecdotes.  I told Carleton after the show that if this music thing didn’t work out…he could do comedy!  Just ask him about the Labrador (dog) mom comment.  Dylan was just as funny with his story of seeing his dad play live for the first time.

Carleton Stone

No matter how entertaining the banter was, it was the music that sucked us all in. The smooth voice of Breagh on “Where Have You Been”, the soulful notes coming from Dylan’s Gretsch on “Half the Way” or Carleton’s infectious dimple enhanced delivery, had us all in rapt attention.  

 Breagh MacKinnon

I love the evenings where you see a band perform on a stage that is a mere morsel of the stage they will soon be performing on.  As the “Sold Out” notices on the upcoming gigs will attest to, the next stage they will perform on will be of a much bigger stature.  

They will be opening for Steven Page (ex-Barenaked Ladies…now fully clothed) at L’Astral on May 10th, 2019.

Some of the songs that really stood out were “Astronaut”, “Sound of Your Voice”, “Back to the Bottom.” 

Of course, we have the expanded explanation of the origin of the song “Montreal” on the interview we did with the band, but hearing it perform live, in the city it was inspired by, was…magical.  

The finale was when they all got off the stage and went in front of the crowd, without microphones…to perform a rousing rendition of “Idea of You.”  It was impossible NOT to sing along, and we all did.

Idea of You A Cappella

I can’t wait for them to perform again, to a bigger audience and let them experience the feeling of sadness as they sail away to the next port…we just want to keep them here, all to ourselves.

What If Elephants

While the feature band was Port Cities, most, if not all, stuck around for What if Elephants.  

They started us with some new material, a song titled “ETA.”  Irresistibly catchy, like the flu in Kindergarten…we were all infected.  Symptoms include swaying, dancing and singing.  I had all three.

Joey Langlois | What If Elephants

Before another new song “Building Me Up”, Joey told us about a time, not long ago where he was in a dark place.  He spoke about this during our interview.  Having his wife Alanna Martin (keyboards/vocals) by his side, he was able to rise above the darkness.  The name What if Elephants is all about addressing the elephant in the room.  

Alanna Martin | What If Elephants

Apart from being catchy songs, what I appreciate about What if Elephants is that they have the bravery to address the elephant in the room.  This isn’t bubble gum pop, it’s POP with a message.   

It could be a song about the life on tour such as “Elastic Band” or a song about dealing with fear such as “Middle Ground.”  How can they tackle such subjects, while you grin ear to ear tap your feet? It’s a mystery to me.

What If Elephants

Going back to the resistance…once you break through that resistance, whatever is holding you back, you can rise from the ashes on the other side, reborn in a way. 

That’s what I got from the performance.  This positive energy that comes from not running away from the hard conversations, but having them openly, poking that elephant in the room and getting it to bugger off.  

What If Elephants

At the end of the evening…people stuck around, laughing, conversing…not wanting the night to end.  

Tonight, was a Hat Trick in terms of performances, all three bands made a dent in the universe, and I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of these performers. 

If you were there, you know what I’m talking about.


Review & Video: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

Photos: Eric Létourneau

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