The Backseat Lovers at Orpheum Theatre

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Sometimes a band makes such an impression on a city that it feels like they are a hometown crew. The Backseat Lovers, who have played here in Vancouver three times in under a year, are one such group. From the moment the crowd stands to welcome them to the stage, to their final note at the end of the night, The Backseat Lovers put on a masterclass of what a live show should be.

It all begins with a beautiful crescendo of a jam session. You can’t help but feel that this is how band practice must be run. I imagine four guys in a basement, simply doing what comes most naturally. That is what their show is, an authentic expression of their passion and joy. Leading into their first song, Know Your Name, the band showcases their aptness for dynamics. This is their modus operandi, delivering engaging dynamics that move the music, the crowd, and the whole show through a whirlwind of sound and fervour.

“We’ve been a bunch of scaredy cats about going back on the road, and now it’s not scary it all,”

The expressive nature of each song is a great juxtaposition to the between-song banter. Frontman Joshua Harmon effortlessly shifts from frenetic, rock hero, to an “oh garsh” small-town charmer. “We’ve been a bunch of scaredy cats about going back on the road, and now it’s not scary it all,” he told the adoring crowd, cementing that these guys are simply the best. They somehow don’t realize just how good they are, and it makes it all the more genuine when they lose themselves in their music.

Throughout the night this ebb and flow of sound was thoroughly fleshed out from all on stage.  Harmon and Jonas Swanson exchange guitar licks throughout the night as if in conversation through guitars. They play with rhythms, syncopations, starts, and stops, that are arresting. Bassist KJ Ward is given room to breathe and finds grooves that walk around the rhythmic intricacies of the rest of the band and finds a mesmerizing groove. This is all backed up by drummer Juice Welch, who fills in every space between the rest of the group. Each finds their space and knows when to minimize themselves for the greater musical narrative. This is why they work so well together they know just when to turn it down, and when to take it to 11.

“We sincerely love this city”

The proof of their mastery of the live show, however, is all found in the crowd reaction, and Vancouver, a traditionally non-reactive crowd, erupted throughout the whole night. From sing-alongs to absolute madness throughout radio hits like Kilby Girl, these guys had the historic Orpheum eating off the palms of their hands. When the band returned for their encore, it was to rapturous praise, to which Harmon said, “You guys are so loud!” It was the look on his face that revealed just how in awe they are to be received in such a way. The earnestness in how much they care is unveiled in these moments, and that is how they began and ended their show. Simply playing and responding in a way that shows their authentic selves. At one point Harmon said, “We sincerely love this city,” and it is clear that at the end of the night, Vancouver sincerely loves you back.

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