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Concert Reviews, Music

Concert Review: Reuben and the Dark @ CBC Studio 211

By: Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky (@marisodo) –

Deep within the CBC building on Front Street in Toronto is Studio 211, a tiny studio space played host to an intimate Reuben and the Dark performance, the most recent roots-rock project from Calgarian Reuben Bullock. The band recently released its debut album Funeral Sky on the Arts & Crafts label, and Bullock mentioned that this performance was, in a sense, a belated record release show.

The evening started after the audience slowly filed in, when the band silently floated onstage and dove right into the lovely “Black Water”, a song from their new album. The setup was wonderful; the band was sprawled out in the centre of the room and illuminated from all angles, while the audience stood all along the perimeter of the room. The experience was very intimate, yet expansive – it was as if the audience gathered around a huge bonfire under the open night sky with the band as the singular source of light. Black curtains draped over the walls added to the atmosphere and created a great acoustic space; the soaring vocals, agile guitars and pounding drums hugged every corner of the room and blended together seamlessly.

Though a few people shimmied and swayed during the more raucous numbers, the audience remained fairly subdued, as did the band. The banter between songs was kept to a minimum, though a few jokes quickly won over the audience.

As the evening progressed, the band worked its way through most of the songs on Funeral Sky, including the rollicking “Devil’s Time”, the harmonically-rich “Rolling Stone” and the metrically-irregular “The River”. Bullock’s wavering voice was beautifully contoured by the other band members’ pristine crystalline harmonies. Towards the end of the set, the band vacated the stage save for Bullock, who performed the stripped-down, bare-all acoustic song “Once Upon A Time”. This brief solo venture allowed Bullock to really showcase his unique voice. The set drew to a close with the intense “Marionette”, and suddenly the band was gone and the evening was over. The audience slowly stumbled out of the studio, as if roused from a dream.

Overall, the performance was soulful and genuine, and the studio setup really elevated the experience and made it unique; Reuben and the Dark is definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Catch Reuben and the Dark at Field Trip Music & Arts Festival at Fort York on June 7th.

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