The thing about a good live show is that it makes you feel like you're not in your own city, or in your own country, or in your own skin. It's like running away without going anywhere--but when you come back from where you haven't gone, everything is still right where you left it. The Wooden Sky played last night at The Artesian and it was, by all accounts, that kind of show. My friend Becky and I got there early and claimed the best seats in the house (balcony; front row, middle) because we take live music way too seriously. It's just the way we are, and we don't feel too bad about it.
The opening band was called Wildlife, and they were from Ontario, and they wore matching black outfits with yellow bandannas on their biceps, and they looked and sounded like a screamo band trying (mostly) really hard not to look and sound like a screamo band. But they had these shining moments where they'd surprise me in one way or another, and their drummer was really fun to watch, and there was this one song that sounded like something Modest Mouse could've written, so I forgave them and thoroughly enjoyed the set.
The Wooden Sky, however, had nothing to forgive. These guys put on such a beautiful show, start to finish, every single time. It's a fantastic amalgam of shivery violin parts and goosebumps and old-timey piano trills and carefully crafted rhythms all led by Gavin Gardiner's gravelly country voice.
I spent the entire set with my fingers crossed beneath my chin, whispering, "Play Something Hiding For Us in the Night... Play Something Hiding For Us in the Night... Play it... Pleeeeease...." And they did. It was their last song of the night before they unplugged their instruments and climbed off the stage right into the thick of the crowd to take advantage of the gorgeous acoustics in the Artesian.
When the last strains of the violin had bounced off of the last pew in the old church, the crowd exploded in a standing ovation and then gradually made their way back into their country, back into their city, back into their skin.