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Concert Photography, Concert Reviews, Music

Concert Review + Photos: The Wooden Sky, Brendan Canning, Classical Revolution @ Grace Church on-the-Hill

By: Steve Danyleyko –

The Wooden Sky. (Photo: Steve Danyleyko/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

The Wooden Sky. (Photo: Steve Danyleyko/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

With the familiar setting of Toronto’s Grace Church on-the-Hill, Toronto-based folk-rock quintet The Wooden Sky returned to where only a year ago they captured their video series of the same name last night in support of the White Ribbon Campaign to end men’s violence towards women.

With a mixture of audience members from twentysomething indie fans to those in their golden years, the pews quietly hummed with cheerful conversation and laughter.

Classical Revolution, which a group of Bay Area-based chamber musicians founded in 2006 to deliver an outlet for musicians to perform high-quality chamber music in non-traditional settings, was on this night led by frequent Wooden Sky collaborator and former Mars Volta collaborator Edwin Huizinga, who assembled with other players including, violinist Rebecca MacLeod, violinist Carol Gimbel, pianist Emily Rho and cellist Soohyun Nam on the floor in front of the stage.

With the lighting dimmed, they began the evening with Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2, which lasted for 45 minutes. The four movements took the crowd on a wonderful ride from the first movement’s quiet sound, to the third movement’s aggressively fast rhythm to the cheerful finale. With pristine sound from the centuries-old church and a silent, attentive audience, this contrasted with the extended, loud and enthusiastic applause, which indicated the audience’s gratitude for such a wonderful performance.

Afterwards, Huizinga teamed up with Broken Social Scene co-founder and solo artist Brendan Canning, who will release his new album You Gots 2 Chill on October 1st, for a 15-minute performance of three new, as-of-yet untitled songs that worked out as a duet between Canning’s guitar and Huizinga’s violin, which made it interested to see what will come of his sonic collaboration.

Amidst loud shouting & clapping, The Wooden Sky took to the stage shortly thereafter for the 200 or so people in attendance and began with a mixture of old and new material including “Child of the Valley” from 2012’s Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun, “North Dakota” and “The Wooden Sky” from their 2007 debut album When Lost at Sea and “An Evening Hymn” from 2009’s If I Don’t Come Home You’ll Know I’m Gone. Frontman Gavin Gardiner, then went on to introduce a new song, “Baby Hold On”, which was a wonderful, upbeat track that grabbed you from the first listen.

As Gardiner and company drifted into the encore, they played “River Song One”, followed by Gardiner at the piano, accompanied by Huizinga on violin and Simon Walker (piano, vocal, guitar) as they performed “Oslo”. The whole band joined together for the final song of the evening, “Oh My God (It Still Means A lot To Me)”, and without microphones or amplification, The Wooden Sky gave it their all to cap off a performance that those in attendance will not soon forget.

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The Wooden Sky
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Brendan Canning & Edwin Hulzinga
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Classical Revolution
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