We Are The City performed with Toronto indie stalwarts HIGHS at Lucky Bar on March 12th. The gig marked the end of a string of shows the two bands had been playing together and for We are the City, the end of their first cross-Canada tour since 2014.
Review: Joseph Leroux Photos: Trevor Ball Photography
HIGHS plays polyrhythmic, afrobeat-influenced pop. Think of Winnipeg’s Royal Canoe, or Vampire Weekend’s self-titled debut. While HIGHS arrangements are a bit more rock and roll, their busy guitars and sensory lyricism are nonetheless sweet sweet ear candy for any indie-pop addicted millennial. They gave an energetic and sincere performance, making no secret of loving their time in front of the Lucky Bar crowd. Electronic ambiance quickly gave way to busy guitar licks and vocal harmonies in triplicate. After performing a softer number to the attentive Lucky audience, vocalist Doug Haynes addressed the room: “That was the quietest room we have ever played that song to. Thank you.” HIGHS self-releases their first full length, "Dazzle Camouflage" on April 8th.
If you’ve never seen We Are The City perform live, make time for it. The three-piece of guitar, keys, and percussion is more than the sum of its parts. Cayne McKenzie’s vocals are incantatory wailings of urban catechisms: “Sprawl/sob/resolve/to quit your job at the mall.” Andrew Huculiak's percussion is relentless--a tight knot of expression weaved of above-average technical chops. Live, he is the undulating ground the band stands on. David Menzel takes up the space between McKenzie and Huculiak, using his guitar and fleet of tour-worn pedals to make McKenzie’s melodies become something explosive and sonically barbed. Menzel teetered over the crowd that evening as he leaned into his volume pedal, eyeing the back of the room. His two bandmates made eyes behind him, communicating about the next transition and then executing it. We Are The City released their fourth full-length, Above Club, on November 13, 2015.