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ON THE 11th HOUR: when the war went quiet
The beloved Ship Pub was an especially dreamy venue on June 21, as dream pop and shoegaze-y alternative tunes filled the warm evening on the summer solstice.
Celebrating the launch of “I'll Do Me” – the second EP release from Hullo, the moniker of 19-year-old Nick Bendzsa – The Ship was filled with a younger crowd of music lovers.
I couldn’t help but notice that I was one of the oldest people in the bar, at my ancient age of 27 years old. But age ain’t nothin’ but a number, and as The Who sang in 1979, “The Kids Are Alright,” and they’re hella talented.
The show kicked off at quarter after eleven with Weary, a five-piece band consisting of vocalist/driving creative force Kate Lahey, bassist Maria Peddle, guitarists Megan McLaughlin and Chris Meyers, and Sarah Harris on drums.
The alternative pop group performed selections from Lahey’s 2017 release “Feeling Things,” softly spinning tales of love, friendship, loss and more.
Each song was absolutely gorgeous, and the audience couldn’t seem to help but sway along with the mellow melodies. Somewhat familiar with the album, I knew what to expect, but a friend hearing the band for the first time was awestruck by their talent, continuing to play the album on repeat all weekend long.
Standout tracks included “Arcade” and “Closer,” two songs that would surely climb the Canadian pop charts quickly and easily.
By the end of Weary’s set, the crowd had seemingly quadrupled in size before the main event, the debut performance of Hullo’s 2019 release, “Ripple.”
Alternative dream-pop with synthesizers, guitar, drums and bass, Bendsza employed well-known local musicians Liam Ryan, Jack Etchegary, Jacob Cherwick – all under the age of 22 – and Michelle Lacour as his backing band, creating a wonderfully full sound in a typically minimalist genre.
Hullo’s set was super short – just four songs: “Ripple,” “Cold in the Sky,” “So Sad” and “Landlines,” averaging around three minutes each.
“Cold in the Sky” was a personal favourite, and my immediate adoration for the upbeat, catchy song was echoed by editor Robb Donker from American Pancakes, who wrote that “if an indie pop song could also double as a Mentos commercial,” they instantly like it, and “Cold in the Sky” hits that mark.
As if I wasn’t already impressed by the short but stellar performance, Bendsza ended the set with King Krule’s “Baby Blue,” from his 2013 album “6 Feet Beneath the Moon.”
The show closed with Cuerpos (a Spanish word that translates to bodies in English), a new duo performing their second live show ever. The band released an RPM album titled “Íntimo” in March and offered a sound unlike anything else in St. John’s right now – think electro-pop meets dance hall meets slow reggae meets shoe-gaze. Close your eyes and you’re in a European nightclub. Open your eyes and you’re somehow at The Ship, feeling astounded (I almost wrote that in all capital letters) by the performance of Chilean Francis Dawson (percussionist/synth) and Ecuadorian Nadia Duman (guitar/bass).
I think everyone who attended that dream-pop show likely had a great sleep that night, lulled into a happy trance by three superb local acts, already in heavy rotation in my headphones.