Something our city needs a bit more of is the one-offs. Events and performances molded together with something a bit out of the ordinary. You can go out any night to see a pack of local bands but is there a theme? Is there ever some sort of tie-together with the music? Almost never. So when a collection of some of Vancouver’s more pronounced musicians and performers put together a night of music entirely arranged with a string quartet, the bar is officially raised higher.
Four on the Floor is made up of four (go figure) string musicians. Hannah Epperson (viloin), Michelle Faehrmann (cello), Tony Kastelic (Viola) and Dougal McLean (Violin) were on the roster tonight. I’ve had the privilege of seeing the quartet accompany many artists before, but this show was special. The emphasis was placed on the accompaniment.
What came across as the best thing about this show is the Four on the Floor’s ability to not just accompany musicians of various backgrounds, but to create a presentation of music that floated from each piece with such ease and comfort. The individual artists’ sets were segued by the quartet in an almost theatrical manner. Whether it was solo piece, a poetry reading, a dirty joke, or a cover of the Game of Thrones theme music (yes that happened).
Ali Milner was the first to take the stage, this girl pours her soul into her voice and it shines through and accentuates well with the strings guiding her along. The quartet gave Ali’s songs a cinematic effect, I felt like I needed to be watching a season finale of some sort of Showcase mellodrama. A good one that I was emotionally attached to.
Data Romance was the most diverse mash-up of the night. Their music is highly percussive and mostly electronic, with a lot of open space allowing the quartet to sing freely underneath Amy Kirkpatrick’s hauntingly beautiful voice. Orchestral tones mixed delightfully with digital hum and hiss, made for a rare and terrific experience for the ears.
Dominique Fricot is no freshman to the accompaniment of strings. His songs blend so naturally into fabric of violins and cello. Dom is probably writing the best sad-bastard pop songs on the west coast for the time being. I would call him a Canadian Damien Rice, Dropped down an octave in voice, and raised about a foot and a half in height.
The most interesting performance of the night was Shaun Verrealt of Wide Mouth Mason. I really did not know what to expect from this man. I immediately had flashbacks to watching Muchmusic after school and I realized I never really knew his music. He has an intensely powerful set of pipes and his lyrics are direct and moving.
Gay Nineties finished of the night with what they do best. a fully loaded rock’n roll performance complete with the quartet greasing the wheels. Colleen Rennison from No Sinner lent her vocals to the mix completing the rock opera transformation.
For on the Floor is a collection of people who play instruments of a more traditional time but have a genuine love and affection to the artists that surround them in their own local habitat. Vancouver’s music scene can learn a lot by how they support other artists. No one who went to see this show would be soon to forget the experience and that’s the best you can ask for.