An intimate night of music at the Media Club started with Jaye Bartell, a solo act featuring only Johnny Cash-style vocals and exquisite finger-picking skills on an acoustic guitar. Bartell’s voice was deep and soothing, despite also sounding melancholic.
He didn’t move around a lot, looking rather emotionless and a little nervous while he was playing. In between songs though, Bartell seemed to relax more and made small talk. His music is more folk than pop, but if that’s not your style, don’t fret — it grows on you as he plays. The crowd could tell there was talent in the house, as Bartell received plenty of applause at the end of his 30-minute set.
By the time Kevin Morby took the stage, clad in a beige blazer and bolo tie, the Media Club was packed. His type of pop is laced with rock and folk, with lots of percussion punctuating the songs. There’s a freshness to Morby’s music, and it’s hard to discern where it comes from. His sound is all at once comfortable, familiar, and yet new. It could be from the bluesy bass, the great rhythm, or toned down rock edge — but what I do know is that it was a great show.
Great musicality and a big sound helped Morby command the stage. The crowd emphatically followed the singer/guitarist’s lead, head-banging and dancing energetically to each song. People were standing on the furniture just to catch a glimpse over all the moving bodies.
He kept the crowd entertained between songs with various attempts at stand-up comedy. Let’s just say, it’s a good thing he’s more serious about music. A fan told him to name his next album “Pho!” (pronounced foe). To which Morby responded that it’s pronounced “fuh” but that it was a “fuh-nny” idea.
I think you can imagine the half-hearted applause and scattered groans which followed. However, his jokes did pass the time while he was tuning, and kept the audience engaged. It was even a little endearing to see him try so hard.
Morby played a new song, “Tiny Fires” to the great delight of the crowd. He also played fan favourites like “Miles, Miles, Miles” with his band, and did a few songs solo, including “Black Flowers.” It didn’t matter whether he had a band or not — every song was greeted with raucous approval by the audience.
For a Tuesday night, Vancouver partied pretty hard and it’s all thanks to the great talents of Bartell, Morby, and company. No one left the Media Club without a smile on their face and their blood pounding through their veins to the echo of the kickdrum.