Hey Ocean! Brings it Home at Richard’s on Richards on Jan. 22/09
By MICHAEL C. GUINNESS
Soul music set the mood for what would be a vibrant compilation of talent, leading to a bang of a performance by Hey Ocean!, the evening’s main event. On the heels of a tour that brought them across the country and back, this local band clearly exhibited an energy that can only be derived from playing to their home-town fans.
The night started off with an announcement from the band that, as part of a fundraising initiative, artist Colin Moore had been invited to sit stage right for the entire evening to create a painting that would be auctioned off to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, BC.
As Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, “MBF for short,” opened the show, the main floor at Richard’s On Richards was teeming with people ready to dance the night away to funky beats. This performer from Calgary consists of a solo guitar act that covered an array of genres, jumping from original tunes into a medley of cover songs of various artists from Sisqó to Katy Perry, who played her first Vancouver show this past Sunday at the Commodore.
While the crowd bristled with excitement, DRMHLLR mounted the stage and unleashed a solid hour of pulse pounding, instrumental jams that got the crowd grooving. This final opening act brought the room’s energy to its peak, a wave of excitement that continued to swell as Hey Ocean! climbed on stage.
As the lights went up, Hey Ocean!, joined by Five Alarm Funk, exploded into riotous thumping percussion jams, with as many as nine musicians on stage keeping the beat as Ashleigh Ball, Hey Ocean!’s lead vocalist, stepped to the forefront with a drum strapped to her shoulder, bringing the jam to another level. “It’s a treat to have this many people out to see us perform,” Ball commented before launching into their next tune. As our headliners’ set progressed, both the heat and the energy on the dance floor were palpable, and the repertoire of songs performed were accentuated by the complementary sounds of Five Alarm Funk and special guest MC Shad K, who provided us with some hip-hop beats to round out the evening.
After bringing the show full circle with a final percussion jam, the band members left the stage, only to return to a stomping, chanting crowd for a final encore, performed without the assistance of their microphones. A hush drew over the vibrant audience who listened quietly to the acoustic guitars and gentle voices in this intimate, live music venue. When the acoustic number was finished, Hey Ocean! guitarist David Beckingham invited audience members to join the band on stage to dance to their final tune “Too Soon”, bringing hoards of people onstage to crowd the band and “hang out” while they brought the evening to an energetic close.
As I shuffled out of the club amongst the crowds, I was able to grab a peek at the silent auction list which had the current bid for Colin Moore’s painting at $300. I couldn’t help but think that although Hey Ocean! was supporting Vancouver just as much as the crowded Vancouver club was supporting Hey Ocean!, Vancouver seems to have gotten the better deal; an excellent lineup of supporting acts, original art, a donation to a local charity, and most importantly, the opportunity to see one of our best local bands perform live in their home city.