ANDREW JUDAH & THE TOURIST COMPANY - @ THE HABITAT, KELOWNA
November 19, 2016
By Morgan Berna
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How does one describe Andrew Judah’s sound? Symphonic. Ambient. Shoegaze. Some kind of Stomp influence? It’s difficult to pin down, and that’s what makes it so special. Their live performance is something you need to experience in order to fully-understand it (look for them to start touring again in 2017).
The set starts off with a motivating line, Every day I’m getting better and better. The song twists and turns through tempo and style changes, fade and growth. You immediately notice the focus Andrew Judah puts on their percussion. No effort is too great for them, if Zac needs to stand up to reach the furthest parts of his cymbals to make a specific sound - he does. Every time.
In fact, parts of the set reminded me of watching Stomp videos. We had drumming on cymbal stands, drumming on buckets full of water (visit our Twitter to see a video of it), mutual-drumming, drum solos... It was so unique and the audience knew it was something special.
Andrew has an incredible vocal range, guitar abilities and charisma. Even when he holds back and lets the drums sweep the audience away, he pulls the focus back on his vocals by doing something unexpected, like suddenly drifting his own lyrics into into, "Shout, shout let it all out..."
The use of a loop pedal helped the two-person act sound much bigger, and they are natural performers. This is a duo to keep your eyes and ears on.
THE TOURIST COMPANY
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The first thing you notice when Taylor grabs the mic is that he seems like the most gracious front-man imaginable. Not only does he greet the audience and immediately make everyone feel welcome, but the whole band makes their performance feel like a gift to you. The Tourist Company spends the time in between songs telling stories and making jokes - it's personal, and it's real.
They started their set with heavy drums, lots of energy and harmonies that feel so easy - though they are anything but.
Shouldn't Believe has this great build up that launches into heavy bass, coupled with these calm, ethereal lyrics. A common theme among their music is this dichotomy between intense instrumental sound and soothing vocals.
Pedestals is played next, and Taylor announces that this song is currently #15 on CBCs Top 20 (you can vote for it here). This one is one of their more pop-y songs, calling out, “I want to be someone you can get behind.” You can tell the audience feels those lyrics by the way they move.
Astronaut was unfortunately the low-part of the performance, the heavy bass distorted any other instrument or vocal line, making it impossible to make out. Something that was hopefully a one-time audio issue.
Despite this, Apollo picks things back up. The title track off their album, it is introduced as “their version of hip-hop.” And while that description might be a stretch, it’s an easy favourite for its unique keyboard line and driving beat. It would be interesting to hear a hip-hop artist sample the melody they’ve created.
Irrepressible Future is another highlight. Taylor describes it as being the song that got him started on his “space tangent.” You can tell this is the song most of the audience remembers hearing on the radio during their time in the Peak Performance Project.
Weightless and Stranded was by far a favourite. Directly inspired from the Apollo 13 movie, and their own dramatic van issues while on the road, it has this ethereal quality to it reminiscent of The Great Gig in the Sky. It tells the story through Jill's eerie vocals, with only minimal words sung by Taylor. It radiated with me well into their next song. Beautiful.
The band comes back on-stage for an encore of Now What, written when they found out they had placed in the Peak Performance Project. It’s much more of a rock song, and the dancers love it.
Overall it’s great to keep seeing The Tourist Company grow. Their graciousness, and quality instrumentals will take them far.