March 1, 2017

Valley | Vancouver

Few people get me the way that my Spotify Discover Weekly gets me. As I spoke with Karah after the show, we mutually discussed our initial hesitance with music streaming that have now long dissipated. After all, if it weren't for the magic that is the Spotify algorithm, I wouldn't have come across her band Valley, among other tons of artists that have come to claim permanent positions in my playlists.

It was either 'You' or 'Say' that first caught my attention back in October of last year. At the time, I didn't even know that the band was from Canada (Toronto, to be more specific). Much to my excitement however, as I scrolled through Twitter one day, I saw that they had a show lined up at The Roxy here in Vancouver.

Truthfully, I found out about the gig almost a little too late. I was in the midst of some late midterms, along with some of my other pals who listened to the band as well. By the time I had convinced myself that I wanted (needed) to go despite cramming til 3am the night before, everyone I knew that wasn't stressing over exams already had plans for Friday night.

After a lot of messages, I managed to round up Alexis, who I happened to meet at a Passenger gig several years ago. Admittedly, if she hadn't said yes, I almost considered going to the show solo. Thankfully, it didn't have to come to that as my general anxieties over being alone in crowded places remains a feat I have yet to overcome -- but I digress.

The show itself was incredible to say the least. The band insisted that a couple of them were feeling under the weather, but in all honesty, it didn't sound like it at all. As much as I enjoy the studio recordings, it was even greater to see the tunes come to life on that stage. There was just something special about getting the chance to experience it all live.

Truly, there are just some things that we tend to take for granted when we're listening to recordings. For instance, that night at the show, I was happily surprised to hear that their voices blended together collectively while maintaining their individual distinctive sound. Often, I worry that the ability to layer voices in the studio won't translate well onstage, but fortunately, this wasn't the case for the band. On top of that, I was also insanely pleased with how I could hear the guitars more in the live versions. On multiple occasions, I found myself completely enthralled by Michael on the electric guitar. Unreal is simply too much of an understatement.

Another thing that flew over my head as a listener at home was the band's ability to switch instruments with ease. At some point, Karah came out from behind the drums and switched with Michael to play the guitar. I already love the fact that the band has a girl drummer (there's nearly not enough out there at the moment in my opinion), but the fact that she also did backing vocals, played the guitar AND the harmonica simultaneously was just awe-inspiring. Not to mention that the entire time, she maintained her cool, calm, and collected-ness. Color me impressed, really.

And then there was the way that the band interacted with each other. For a group that is still so new, it was rad to see them so comfortable with one another onstage. Despite the small venue, their energy and connection remained discernible. I feel like that link always makes a big difference, especially during the songs' climatic points (i.e. during the latter parts of 'Say' and 'Swim'). Whenever Alex, Rob, and Michael would stroll towards one another in front of the drum kit, as cheesy as it may be to say, the sound felt more alive.

Beyond the performance, I was also grateful for the moments in between. One of the ultimate reasons why I go to gigs in the first place is to search for something beyond what I hear on the recordings themselves. Because the band is still fairly new, there is still not a lot to be seen of them on the world wide web just yet, and so there was so much I had yet to learn about them. In all the other shows I've ever been to, I almost always knew some stories about the artists and their music. Even then, I always craved to hear more backstory. Few musicians have been able to skillfully tell anecdotes during transitions in their set, so I was pretty stoked when Rob threw in some bits here and there about what inspired their new tunes.

Speaking of new tunes, they played a couple that night and I was more than thrilled to hear that they were working on new music. 'Hudson' was the one with the backstory (about people watching in New York) so that is the one that stands out in my memory now.

Normally, I make it a point to record at least one full-length song for each show that I go to but I only made it through a bit of Swim this time around. Since the show was a shorter set than I'm used to, I thought I had more time to settle on a song to hit record on. I guess I lost track of time because pretty soon, the last song was starting up and I didn't want to spend its entirety watching through a viewfinder. Regardless, here's the link to the clip.

Sidenote: considering the gig was a shorter one, I wish they had included their cover of Drive by Oh Wonder in the setlist.

All in all, the show was incredible. I have every hope that Valley will continue to release music with heart and soul, and that soon they get to play to larger crowds. I'm more than sure that their trajectory is headed upwards and that they'll be reaching more milestones beyond the 1 million Spotify streams for 'Swim.' Funnily enough, as I was doing my research for this post, I found out that their influences include Walk The Moon, St. Lucia, Arkells, and The 1975. The second of which I have seen live already, and the latter two twice. Surely, they are well and truly on their way to making a name for themselves just like those other bands they're inspired by. 

After the show, we got a chance to chat with the band. They talked about hometowns and how they knew each other, and we talked about universities and our majors. It's always so nice to meet talented people that are simultaneously nice human beings. It makes rooting for their success all the more easier. Thanks for the great show, Valley! Come back to the west coast and release those new tunes soon!

Til the next gig, read more of our concert recaps here.

Stay gold,


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