The last time I saw Crown Lands perform, they were the supporting band for Rival Sons at the Corona Theatre (August 18, 2019). After their set, they joined the crowd at their merch table and were super friendly and sweet. I told them that they sure made a lot of noise for just two guys. I asked Cody what type of products he used for his luxurious locks. Oh yeah, and I said that the next time that I see them, they would be headlining.
On December 4th Crown Lands made their final stop in Montreal on their Big Wave tour. Although their sound is far too heavy for Petit Campus, it was a real treat to see them perform at such an intimate venue.
Their supporting band was Toronto-based Skye Wallace who lit up the dark and dingy club like a delicious, scented candle, strutting across the stage in form-fitting leopard print. Expressing pure joy to be performing in front of a live audience, she really warmed up the crowd with her angelic voice and raw energy. I enjoyed her sweet and salty PJ Harvey vibe. Her intensity on “Swing Batter” sealed the deal as the entire club stood completely still and absorbed the weight of her words.
Death Of Me
There Is A Wall
Truth Be Told
Coal In Your Window
Gimme The Reaper
When Crown Lands finally emerged around 9:00, the sold-out club began to hum with excitement. Making their way to the stage, slow and steady they immediately got our attention with their solemn demeanour. The rowdy barroom buzz came to a halt as they opened their set with “Mountain.”
Cody, dressed in shimmering black and silver, gently blew his mystical pan flute like a rock n roll shaman. And Kevin’s lingering bluesy slide guitar brought it to the next level. (I still can’t stop thinking about his fantastical fringed suit which was covered in rhinestones, clouds, stars, moons, suns, rockets and so much more.)
There are so many reasons to love Crown Lands. Their lyrics deal with very important issues that need to be addressed. They are true artists that are unafraid to explore their creativity. And they are skilled musicians who take great care in their craft. The fact that they really took their time with “Mountain” made the subject matter even more poignant.
Wasting no time, they kicked it up a notch with “White Buffalo”. As soon as we heard that upbeat guitar riff and uplifting lyrics, everyone began to nod and cheer. (CHOM plays it quite often)
“The white buffalo is a symbol of prosperity and strength in Indigenous cultures, so the song is about reclamation and overcoming oppression. We wanted to make something that was our projection of the future we hope will manifest.” Cody Bowles
Honouring his culture and shining a light on the dark history of the mistreatment of indigenous people (Cody is Mi’kmaq), they performed a hauntingly lovely version of“End Of The Road”, which was written for the missing and murdered indigenous women, children and two-spirits
Kevin played a beautiful acoustic instrumental piece entitled Penny. He humbly told us that he wrote it for his grandmother and then blew us away with his classically trained mastery.
Cody’s vocals on “Sundance” had the kind of range that would make Robert Plant jealous. His tone was soft, then powerful with so much emotion and control. I do not know any other artist right now that can sound like that. And he sings while pounding the drums with such force yet uncanny ease, as though his ancestors were guiding his hands.
You have to really know who you are as an artist to create and perform a song like “The Oracle”. It’s over 13 minutes long and explores some really complex prog-rock styles. (King Crimson)
They ended their set with “Context”, Kevin played keyboards and then switched to the double-neck Rickenbacker hanging from his body, like it’s no big deal.
After thanking the audience and their crew, they played “Mantra” for their encore. Pouring every last ounce of energy and leaving us wanting more.
I didn’t have a chance to talk to them this time but if I did, I would tell them that the next time I see them, it will be in a larger venue.
(The Oshawa duo were nominated for Rock Album of the year and breakthrough group of the year, which they won.)
Review – Annette Aghazarian
Photos – Eric Brisson