Said The Whale + Dave Monks @ L’Escogriffe – 6 December 2019

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Said The Whale @ L'Escogriffe - 6 December 2019 in Montreal, Canada

I finally figured out the secret to properly enjoying a gig at Bar l’Escogriffe: don’t go in the summer!  After stifling experiences there watching Electric Six and Ocean Alley, things are much more bearable in December, in spite of the large crowd packed inside.

Said The Whale @ L'Escogriffe - 6 December 2019 in Montreal, Canada

If it wasn’t for Google, I would have gone crazy before opener Dave Monks finishes his set.  The face is familiar, the voice is familiar, but I can’t place it…  After 5 minutes of abject failure trying to figure it out myself, Google informs me it’s the frontman of Tokyo Police Club!  It’s a pleasant surprise and a nice reward for those who show up early.  His solo stuff is a lot more mellow than his regular day job, but it’s a pleasant departure and warms everyone up nicely for the main event.

Said The Whale @ L'Escogriffe - 6 December 2019 in Montreal, Canada

Vancouver trio Said The Whale are 12 years and 6 albums into their existence, and it’s still perplexing that after all this time, they still seem to be flying under the radar of most of the populace.  The tiny subterranean Bar l’Escogriffe seems way too small for them, given the slick 80-minute set they deliver over the course of the evening, but nobody here is complaining, seeing them in such an intimate venue! 

Said The Whale @ L'Escogriffe - 6 December 2019 in Montreal, Canada

On paper, a 22-song set can sound a little overwhelming, but Said The Whale have been doing this long enough to know exactly how to keep things interesting: mix it up!  The set starts with the band entering the stage to a pulsating drum beat that sounds almost electronic, while the intro beats to Step Into The Darkness are completely so.  Level Best and The Gift Of A Black Heart are pleasant acoustic detours, but The Light Is You is the highlight, with Tyler, Ben, and Jaycelyn gathering around a single microphone with a single acoustic guitar to provide a real campfire moment.  Both Tyler and Ben rotate frontman duties throughout, roaming the stage and climbing the monitors throughout their portions.  Ben’s delivery on Wake Up sounds almost hip-hop!

Said The Whale @ L'Escogriffe - 6 December 2019 in Montreal, Canada

As comfortable as they are wearing all these caps, it seems like the heavier rock-outs are where the band feels most comfortable (or perhaps I’m just biased, as they are actually just my personal favourites…).  The band’s supporting cast take centre stage during some of these moments too; Mother sees the drummer blast out a furious hi-hat beat, while the bass on Oh K, Okay absolutely obliterates the jazz club vibe that starts the song.  The band save arguably their best two songs for last, with a blazing UnAmerican merging seamlessly into the storming I Love You to provide a ferocious conclusion to the main set.

Said The Whale @ L'Escogriffe - 6 December 2019 in Montreal, Canada

Upon returning to the stage for an encore, Tyler enquires “what do you guys wanna hear??”  After a few comedy responses that include Wonderwall and Free Bird, a few shout for I Will Follow You, and the huge singalong that follows demonstrates that this was a good choice!  The ukulele strum of Goodnight Moon closes out the show for good.  On the strength of tonight’s performance, Said The Whale are unquestionably ready for bigger stages than this.

Said The Whale @ L'Escogriffe - 6 December 2019 in Montreal, Canada

Setlist

  • 1.       Gambier Island Green
  • 2.       This City’s A Mess
  • 3.       Camilo (The Magician)
  • 4.       Step Into The Darkness
  • 5.       Mother
  • 6.       Black Day In December
  • 7.       The Light Is You
  • 8.       Cascadia
  • 9.       Oh K, Okay
  • 10.   Emerald Lake, Ab
  • 11.   Moonlight
  • 12.   Record Shop
  • 13.   Wake Up
  • 14.   Loveless
  • 15.   Broken Man
  • 16.   Love Always
  • 17.   Level Best
  • 18.   The Gift Of A Black Heart
  • 19.   UnAmerican
  • 20.   I Love You

Encore

  • 21.   I Will Follow You
  • 22.   Goodnight Moon

Review & photos – Simon Williams

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