With the rain pouring harder than it has in Toronto in weeks, soaked but excited people filtered into Bloor Street’s Trinity St. Paul’s Church. Shivering and damp, ready for warmth whether it be from temperature or the kind brought on by the night’s roster, we settled into the pews, where we’d leave puddles.
Julie Doiron took the stage half an hour after promised, declaring how nervous she became within the last ten minutes. I would too if I was in a church, under one spotlight, surrounded by people. But I don’t think I, or many other people, can go through an entire set laughing, cracking awkwardly cute jokes and apologizing for messing up in such a charming way. “I’m playing the guitar so quirkily tonight!” she laughed. Doiron had her audience smiling, laughing and cheering for her after the first song.
Julie turned her set into an all-request hour, playing what people would shout out at her, like I Woke Myself Up. She told quips to every song, talking about imagination and reality bases for storytelling, even once saying a song was about how she was “grateful about things and stuff.” This type of banter brings the audience closer, and it worked well for her. I bet Doiron actually does walk and bike around where she lives and makes up little songs to herself and that’s that. She’s simple, but in the most endearing way, like you think you can do that too, but for some reason it’s so much harder to pull off. I’ve never seen a musician so openly anxious and yet the music still comes so easily.
Julie Doiron’s got a very soothing voice paired to her guitar playing out of a little old amp. Her recordings include drum and bass, but tonight, she was solo. She mentioned she doesn’t feel like writing another album for another five years, and instead settling down and getting a real job, but I wouldn’t stick that to her, and I would hope that won’t happen.
Ohbijou then took the stage and the church seemed to swell. We were dry by then, but still ready for more warmth. Tonight was their release party for the newly minted Metal Meets album, and they didn’t disappoint in successfully transitioning the gorgeous recordings to the stage.
Stationed in front of kaleidoscopic videos, the six-piece worked themselves right into the material. Though I’m still not too familiar with the new songs, the ones with more oomph really stood out, such as the lovely wistfulness of Niagara, spritely Balikbayan and the haunting Iron and Ore that Jenny Mecija (sister of lead singer Casey and violinist) sings. While Casey can belt it out if she wants to (it doesn’t happen much, but when it does, it’s captivating), Jenny stayed a bit too quiet.
Every member in this band was interesting to watch – Jenny and Anissa Hart’s string sways, James Bunton’s heavy drumming, Heather Kirby’s slow and steady bass, Ryan Carley’s spacey sound effects and Casey’s guitar changes and strong voice. Songs like Black Ice from Beacons still shined, and the band even emerged for two encores, one which included Casey walking around the church singing with a tape recording of herself.
Ohbijou and Julie Doiron can fill the coldest, dampest person with lasting, glowing warmth. It doesn’t seem that often that you’ll get a big crowd full of people in Toronto who had just been rained on looking that happy and satisfied.
Ohbijou – Niagara
Remaining Tour Dates:
Oct 5 – Kingston, ON @ The Mansion
Oct 6 – Ottawa, ON @ Ritual
Oct 13 – London, ON @ The Aeolian Hall
Oct 14 – Peterborough, ON @ Market Hall
Oct 18 – Halifax, NS – Halifax Pop Explosion @ The Marquee Club
Oct 21 – Charlottetown, PE @ Baba’s
Oct 22 – Fredericton, NB @ The Capital