As November creeps into my bones with its icy, damp winds and darkened skies, it’s getting harder to get out of bed in the mornings and even harder to go out at night. So if I’m going to venture out downtown to battle traffic and bad weather, it better be worth it.
The first time I heard Aysanabee was on the radio (CHOM), and before I knew anything about him, I was drawn to the power and conviction of his voice and lyrics. I had the chance to interview him in January and I promised him that the next time he came to town, I would catch his show.
When I heard he would be playing at Le Studio TD with Dan Magnan on Saturday November 4th, I decided to make it a date and brought my husband. Thankfully, we made it to the venue by eight, just as he began his set.
Standing alone with an acoustic guitar in his large hands and a mess of pedals beneath his boots, Aysanabee created an instant connection with the crowd with his humble and warm demeanour. Offering humorous anecdotes in between songs, like why he wore that groovy, long coat… “it looks cool” and how he actually met Dan Mangan. He talked to us as though we were old friends, setting the tone for a warm and intimate evening.
His speaking voice was so soft and gentle, that when he began to sing, the entire room was silent, gazing in awe. The contrast between his powerful vocals and delicate fingerwork on his guitar created a truly magical experience. Unfortunately, it only lasted about 30 minutes. And judging by the audience’s boisterous response, I know that I’m not the only one who wanted more. My highlights were his passionate vocals on “Somebody Else” (from his latest EP Here and Now released October 20) and his delicate fingerwork on “Ego Death” from his debut album Watin released November 4 2022, which CBC Music named one of the best Canadian albums of 2022.
- Ocean breath
- The Dawn
- Somebody Else
- We Were Here
- War Cry
- Ego Death
I have often gone to shows just for the opening act, and this was one of those times. I only knew two songs from Dan Mangan and they are both rather depressing, so I wasn’t sure if I would make it till the end of his set. It’s not because he doesn’t have a good voice, witty lyrics or catchy melodies. It’s just that most of his songs are about feeling broken, lonely or hopeless, and I am currently in no mood to be “haunted by the melody”.
Luckily, Dan was surprisingly upbeat and even made a few jokes. Appearing alone with his acoustic guitar, he began by wishing a very young audience member (Lennon) happy 11th birthday. Then he informed us that his set list would be comprised mainly of fan requests, which were gathered through Community (a new platform, which allows direct communication via text messaging).
The band appeared by the sixth song, “Lynchpin”, which was one of my favourites of the night. The electric guitar, drums and bass brought some energy to the stage and then “Troubled Mind” kicked it up another notch.
There was a touching moment before “In Your Corner” when Dan talked about mental health and how we all get overwhelmed sometimes, but we are not alone, as his band mates huddled together and sang in harmony. He dedicated the song to his fellow musician, Scott Hutchison. (Who took his own life at 36)
For someone who sings very dark and heavy songs, Dan was quite a lively performer who clearly loved engaging with his audience. We were encouraged to sing along and often instructed (like a school choir) to do backup vocals.
There was no encore, instead the last two songs were performed off-stage. As the lights dimmed, the band ventured into the centre of the crowd, holding little lamps, and we all sang together. Ending the night with “So Much For Everyone” which was my favourite. I only had one beer that night, but I have to say, we sounded great. I made it through the whole night and I wasn’t even sad.
I always knew that listening to music releases endorphins, which makes us smarter, healthier, and even more creative. What I didn’t know was that when you sing with other people, this effect is amplified. Thanks Dan.
- INDIE QUEENS
- FOR HIM
- TROUBLED MIND
- ROAD REGRETS
- COLD IN THE SUMMER
- SAY WHEN
- LAY LOW
- JUST KNOW IT
- IN YOUR CORNER
- POST-WAR BLUES
- FIRE ESCAPE
- ALL MY PEOPLE
- SO MUCH FOR EVERYONE
Review – Annette Aghazarian
Photos – Ryan Rumpel