Photo by Eric Scharf/Ottawa Showbox
Half Moon Run is like a sexy Mumford and Sons who had a baby with Alt-J; it’s a religious experience and all you can say is ‘goddamn’.
– as described to me by friend, Kathryn Redwood over dinner prior to the Half Moon Run show this past weekend.
Crammed into Ritual’s tiny basement, I waited impatiently – cursing myself for not showing up as soon as the doors opened – listening to Folly and the Hunter start their set. Humming along to “Residents” as I stood in line to check my coat, I couldn’t believe how great Folly sounded through the concrete floor, especially as only a three-piece ensemble. Seriously, you should go see this band – even if you just stand outside the venue. That’s how good they are.
I was lucky enough to make it upstairs just in time to catch them close with “Awake,” the title track off of their new album (which is a great listen, in case you haven’t heard it yet). Although it seemed to be a Half Moon Run majority crowd, I think it’s safe to say Folly and the Hunter won many hearts in Ottawa that night, and as a long-time fan I was happy to hear some of the songs I first fell in love with upon the release of their 2012 debut album, Residents. These Montreal natives should definitely be on any concertgoer’s bucket list.
After the change over, Half Moon Run took the stage with “Turn Your Love” and the energy was immediately palpable and it got hot. I mean that very literally – Ritual was a sauna. As someone who is relatively new to the Half Moon Run bandwagon, I would agree that their live performance is definitely a religious experience. The lights were phenomenal and complimented the band’s driving beats and melodic ballads. I’ve also never seen long hair, black tank tops, and button-downs look so good.
Despite Ottawa bring known for its relatively conservative crowd vibe, people started singing and dancing as the band played many of the songs off of their 2011 debut album Dark Eyes. Their loyal fan base went wild. Vocalist Devon Portielje eventually ditched his guitar to better accommodate his dance moves during “Trust”, the last song off the band’s latest album, Sun Leads Me On. The band ended their set with their breakout single “Full Circle” off of Dark Eyes, which elicited a full-fledged sing-along and surprisingly on-beat audience clapping (it’s always a 50/50 gamble when gauging audience clapping capabilities). Portielje impressed us all with his ethereal vocals, percussion, guitar and keyboard playing, all of which were only slightly overshadowed by Conner Molander’s wicked harmonica solo during “Hands in the Garden”.
But wait – that’s not all! As the crowd clapped and desperately chanted “one more song!,” Folly and the Hunter joined Half Moon Run on stage to deliver the most heart-warming, soul-thumping rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall be Released” that I’ve ever heard.
It seems only fitting that these two Canadian bands, founded in the same city no less, should tour the country together. Unfortunately, Ottawa was their last stop, but I hope you were lucky enough to catch one of their shows. If you haven’t checked out either of these bands, grab a pair of headphones and get on that shit.