July 27, 2016

Benjamin Francis Leftwich | Vancouver

The smaller the venue, the better the show. That's my opinion. That's not to say that larger venues make for terrible shows. However, I am forever impartial to a lesser capacity venue not just because of the more affordable ticket price, but also because of the incomparable intimacy you get in exchange.

July 22nd, 2016 was a day of firsts. It was my first time at The Media Club, my fist time getting to shoot a gig with a DSLR, and above all, my first time seeing Benjamin Francis Leftwich live. I'm telling you now, none of these first times disappointed in any way whatsoever. Especially, the part involving the musician from Yorkshire, England who proved to sound the same (if not better) live than on record.

Coincidentally enough, if you recall, the last concert recap I did was of The 1975 who happens to be on the same label as Ben Leftwich (Dirty Hit Records). With the last show, I wrote about the vastness of the crowd in an almost zombie apocalyptic sense. This time around was practically antithetical — in the best way possible.

The venue's capacity is somewhere along the 150 mark based off a quick Google search. And though I'm not sure how many bodies were crammed into that space that night, what I'm sure of is that the show was completely sold-out, which is rightfully not unlike many of the other shows on Ben's tour. 

Now enough about facts and figures. Let's talk, music. I first heard Ben's music off of random playlists on 8tracks. I'm not sure which it was that I heard first, but I'm fairly sure that it's a close tie between Shine and Atlas Hands. Both of which to this day hold a special place deep in my soul, which is why I made it a point to record the two. 

Normally, the inner workings of my mind are chaotic; my thoughts fire like machine guns that never run out of bullets. To put it succinctly, it is a rarity for me to be at peace, which is why words cannot explain the gratifying stillness that I felt as I swayed to the sound of Ben making music. 

As for the setlist, it was a sublime mix of old (like Pictures) and new (like Tilikum). I wish he had included a cover in there somewhere. Either his cover of Won't Back Down - Tom Petty, which is one of my favorite covers of the song (next to John O'Callaghan's), or his cover of The Killers' classic When We Were Young (because that sure would have been a crowd-pleaser  imagine a room full of people singing along!). But honestly, the lack thereof did not take away from the show at all.
Lastly, I wanted to list out my favorite moments from the night in its entirety in an effort remember the little things that made the gig the rad experience that it was.

3. One of my most favorite pasttimes is people-watching. Lucky for me there was an apt variety of people to watch at the show. Couples on their first date, filled with nervous touches and sideway glances. Couples on their hundredth date, their heads already fitting the mould of the ridge between the other's neck and shoulder. Couples everywhere. We were pretty much surrounded; my favorite of which was the couple behind us who switched from full-on swing dancing to the music, and swaying like no one else was in the room.

2. Though leading up to the show, Shine and Atlas Hands were the tunes I was most excited to hear, my stand-out pick from the set-list was when Ben played Summer unplugged. The silence in the room was unmistakable. The vibe was the pinnacle of calm. And though he was most definitely still strumming away on his mountain-doodled guitar, there was a certain stillness in the room not unlike that feeling you get when you're underwater and everything seems almost as if in slow-motion. 

1. Lastly, capping off this list of favorites is actually meeting Ben himself. Before the show, he passed by the front doors of the venue and on his way back in, I managed to ask for a picture with him. Afterwards, he proceeded to give a heartfelt thank you to the lot of us outside for coming to see the show. 

In conjunction with actually standing side-by-side next to him, it was also nice to meet him in a less literal sense. Hearing musicians provide anecdotes about their lives and about their songs is one of the main reasons why I persistently continue to spend money on concert tickets rather than simply listening to the albums at home.

That pretty much sums up July 22nd, 2016 for me. I do recall Ben mentioning that there will be an announcement within the next while about another show in Vancouver. I vehemently recommend staying tuned for that and experiencing his music live for yourself. However, if you simply can't for whatever reason, I wholeheartedly urge you to check out his music. His new album, After The Rain, comes out on August 19th and if it wasn't already evident, it is undoubtedly highly anticipated in my books. 

Stay gold,


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