“I can see all of your faces” said the The Weeks‘ long-haired front-man, Cyle Barnes, to the intimate crowd of devotees and discoverers, who turned out for the Sunday night show at the Mercury Lounge in Ottawa.
The band from Jackson, Mississippi, who have opened for the globally successful Kings of Leon in stadium-sized venues and built a significant following in the US, played a high-energy and tight set, which the audience appreciated at every chance.
Riishi Von Rex of Ottawa, who recently played Bluesfest, started the night with her singer-songwriter rock that turned out to nicely complement the main act. Called in on short-notice to fill in for the scheduled opening act, she brought strong stage presence wearing some kickin’ cowboy boots and showed great chemistry with her bandmate, drummer Michel Delage, who added a jazz percussion element to their sound.
The two riffed and played off eachother skillfully and creatively with each song. “Undertaker” was introduced as new but stood out for its songwriting. The chorus has Von Rex confessing about not being ready to be an undertaker to a close one. Their set finished with “Drowning,” featuring a breakdown into the “Drunken Sailor” shanty and finishing by showcasing Riishi’s ability to vocally soar.
The Weeks’ drummer, Cain Barnes (Cyle’s identical twin), remarked after the show what a gorgeous a venue the Mercury Lounge was to play in. Set against a backdrop of red velvet curtain and disco ball, the band’s – how can I put it – “relaxed” look was a tad ironic, but it all added to the charm of the night.
But on to the tunes – the Weeks’ sound is big, loud, and fun. The band started high-energy and didn’t let up, save for one slower song – the only song introduced – that also got ramped up.
“The House We Grew Up In,” the lead track on their 2012 album, was played at a rollicking tempo perfect for dancing with abandon, which is just how bassist Damien Bone played it. Bone’s bouncy bass was the centrepiece when they played their well-crafted single, “Brother in the Night.” The chorus had guitarist Sam Williams and Alex Admiral Collier singing harmonies as Barnes half screams out. Collier’s expert keyboard and synth skills gives the grungy stylings of the others some lift and takes them into a richer pop territory. Previously their day-to-day manager, he let known that he played the organ for a church and now finds himself playing organ keyboard as Barnes sings: “I’ve been raising my hands, I’ve been praying for rain, And I screamed at them skies but the drops never came.”
The most memorable part of The Weeks is their quirkiness and evident pleasure in performing. Midway through “Buttons,” a compact but effective ode to confusing young love, Cyle paused from his zombie-esque wandering about the stage, leaned in and stole a kiss from his guitarist, and leaned out singing the chorus: “Kissed my lips and quickly ran away.” The Weeks do not disappoint. Catch them inQuébec City on Aug. 13th, Montréal on the 14th, then in Peterborough on the 15th.
By: Rob Dawson
Photos by: Ryan Seyeau