Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars capped off an awe-inspiring lineup at St. Albans Church last night, which also featured wonderful sets from Evening Hymns and Bosveld.
Arboretum had the pleasure of presenting Julie Doiron and the Wooden Stars perform the album they released 15 years ago. The album, which you can stream here, is full of emotional ups and downs which resonated powerfully in the great acoustics of St. Albans Church. They did not perform the album from start to finish, but I am pretty sure they played every song and it was great. The soothing and honest voice of Doiron was complemented excellently by the musical stylings of Michael Feuerstack, Josh Latour, Andrew McCormack, & Julien Beillard.
There is something kind of cool knowing all the songs that will be played but just not the order, as Doiron put it “you don’t want to be too rehearsed.” The song that really impressed was “The Best Thing for Me” which has great lyrics and has even better unorthodox messy guitar solos which were so fun live. Another great track was “Au Contraire” — c’est toujours bien d’entendre une chanson avec des paroles francophones.
After playing “The Second Time,” Doiron took off her guitar to prepare herself for the final song, one where she simply sings. People misinterpreted this jest and began to leave. “Look at that, I took off my guitar and everyone was like bye,” said Doiron with a smile. They sure missed out, as the band played the final song off the album, “Sweeter” which features great back and forth vocals between Doiron and the guitarist. Doiron and the band tried to leave the stage afterwards as it was getting rather late, but they just could not resist the standing ovation by the sellout crowd. They played a Wooden Stars’ original “Outlaws,” followed by Doiron’s “Will You Still Love Me in December.” A perfectly chilling end to an amazingly hot night at Arboretum.
Before the reunion could take place, Evening Hymns took the stage. There was something so fitting about a band so named to play in a church. The set was full of new songs, they actually opened with three of them in a row. Lead singer and guitarist, Jonas Bonnetta, cracked jokes between most songs and seemed to be having a great time. Commenting on the sweat-inducing heat in the church, “everyone who complained about the cold weather, you are eating your words now. Or am I the only one feeling the heat right now, is it a religious thing? Because I see a lot of you in sweaters.” This was their first show with their new drummer, Ottawa boy Pat Johnson. There is a very noticeable dichotomy between their new music and older pieces. New songs like “Hiss at Mirrors” are upbeat, feature three vocals and are more rocking, whereas the older music is much heavier emotionally and a little slower paced. It all makes for a beautiful mix.
Bonnetta provided one of the most memorable live music experiences as he shed tears while the band performed “You and Jake.” The song is off of the bands powerful and moving album Spectral Dusk, which is an album about Bonnetta losing his father to a very rare blood disease. It was one of the most emotional and human moments in music I have ever witnessed.
Opening the festivities was Ottawa’s very own Bosveld. The band looked in great shape, playing their homecoming show and last stop on their bike tour which took them as far as Hamilton, ON. They toured as a duo, and have often played as such in Ottawa, but on this night they were a quartet and it was magical. The four-piece gives the dreamy trance even more depth. Seeing them perform in the house of the Lord only adds to the reverie. Bosveld are the most whimsical band in Ottawa and they are only getting better. They played some songs off of their Catalysts Mixtape and some off their upcoming LP Veldbrand, set to released by the end of this year or the start of the next.