I learned many things on September 13th. The first and probably most pertinent lesson was that the vast majority of Western students missed out on one of the best concerts to ever grace London. This show was put on by the University Students’ Council, headed by President Adam Fearnall and the great Council of 2012/2013 in the Mustang Lounge, where, as Hey Rosetta! lead singer, Tim Baker, stated was the first time a band had played on the stage.
To start off the show, openers Zeus took the stage, where the band, who boasts some incredible records on their discography, kicked off the afternoon with a high-energy-intro straight into a bluesy set that showed a Beatles-esque comportment with Black Keys-like sounds that shone through their sound mixer’s mistakes. The band showed great passion for their music, just playing through the adversity of the drowned out vocals and guitar, playing as though they had double the number of musicians in the band. What was truly remarkable was that the bassist reminded me completely of Wilco’s superstar frontman, Jeff Tweedy, which really added to the feel of seeing a big band because of his infectious energy. Throughout the entire set, you could see all six band members from Hey Rosetta! roaming the crowd, basking in the live music, which they soon after followed up in grand fashion.
The anticipation for the show’s headliner, Hey Rosetta!, hit it’s boiling point as the crowd erupted into a flurry of cheers as Tim Baker, one of the best Canadian frontmen at the moment, stepped up to the plate and kicked off the set with an incredible rendition of “Yer Spring,” a hit song off of the band’s most recent record, Seeds. For those of you who haven’t heard Seeds, the record was a short listed candidate for the 2011 Polaris Prize (the second album of theirs to earn that honour), as Canada’s album of the year, and not many songs pack as big of a punch as the cathartic, emotionally charged “Yer Spring.” As stated early, there were many lessons learned, with the second one being: Bands with a violin and or cello are just better… end of story. This was proven when Hey Rosetta! proceeded to play “Yer Fall,” another song from their latest album.
At this point, it was becoming clear that Hey Rosetta! is among the more talented bands to be making music, as they sounded almost identical to their critically acclaimed albums. This is a testament to the pure ability that Tim, Adam, Phil, Kinley, Josh, and Romesh have, as there was not one obvious instrumental or lyrical slip up. This band must have studied the LCD Soundclash manual on how to perform a concert, as not one member tried to outshine the other, overdo their job or even play an unnecessary solo, instead, they played off of each other’s energy and what seemed to be genuine love of performing in front of the 300-400 Western students. Instrumentally, the group of six musicians blew the crowd away, completely nailing each track they played, including: “Bricks,” “There’s An Arc,” and “Lions For Scottie.” The crowd was legitimately loving life the entire time, with a pack of students breaking out into a dancing spree that captured the feeling of freedom that everyone had at heart, while Tim exercised his God-given golden voice at the mic. Following “Lions For Scottie,” there was a little interlude into “Red Heart,” one of the band’s most famous and popular songs, prompting my friend who had barely heard any of Hey Rosetta’s repertoire to state that “[This] is real music!”
The musicians then switched up their playing style, trading instruments for an acoustic set, as one of the many crowd favorites, “Bandages,” was played seamlessly as a great break to the absurd amount of energy that was being evoked from the audience. “Welcome” was subsequently performed, reinvigorating the overjoyed audience before finishing their hour and a half-long set with “Seeds.” “Seeds” might have been the best performance of any song that London has ever seen, as a large part of the crowd sang along with the headlining act that ended Purplefest with a literal bang! After a scientifically practiced pause that riled the hundreds of anticipating audience members, cannons shot maple leaf cutouts flying in all directions, making a fall-themed blizzard, capping off a magnificent performance that one would be hard-pressed to forget.
This finale, however, was shortlived, as after but a minute of having exited stage right, Hey Rosetta! returned to the stage for one final song, “We Made A Pact,” before flying out to St. John’s for a wedding. This fact prompted the UWO USC President, Adam Fearnall to state, “It was amazing to see a band commit so thoroughly to a show at Western. The band made everyone feel like the show at Western was just as important as any other show.”
This casual observer of art-in-curation and frequent attendee of concerts of all genres can only say that Hey Rosetta! with much credit to a great event created by the USC was among the best performances I have ever seen by a band. 2012 has been the year of Hey Rosetta! as they were awarded sets at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Sasquatch, Hangout, and River’s Edge festivals, on top of playing along side such acts as City and Colour and the Avett Brothers. This band is far from being near their ability’s paramount, as they are quickly making a name for themselves that bumps shoulders with Canadian heavy weight bands as the Arcade Fire and Tragically Hip.