Bahamas at Phillips Backyard – Tilt!

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After three days of roasting on the pavement with splashes of beer and sweat all over (most of it your own), sometimes ending with chill vibes is exactly what you need. Afie Jurvanen, or as he is better known, Bahamas, doesn’t need to have a light show, or a swelling pre-produced score at the beginning of his set to show you just how epic he is; he lets his music speak for itself.

From the opening moments of Trick to Happy, the mood was set. Through catchy falsetto harmonies, and clean guitar tones, backed with smooth licks, the finale to the three days in Phillips Brewing’s back yard came in a seemingly unexpected manner. Though fans of Bahamas know that chill is an oft used word for his sensibilities, it can still comes as a shock to have such light vibes end a mostly booze fuelled weekend. Thankfully Bahamas doesn’t care what you expect. Like a cool breeze on a hot day, it is just what you need. 

Among high tempo and slower tempo songs, there is a definite bob that overcomes you. This is in no small part to the backing band behind Bahamas. Don Kerr on Drums and Darcy Yates on bass laid backing rhythm that had a velvety smoothness: a wonderful contrast to the staccato nature of the guitar. The accented rhythms and leads that Christine Bougie played on guitar were a perfect companion to Jurvanen’s. It was like sitting in on an intimate conversation between friends, only through Telecasters. Rounding out Bahamas’ backing band was Felicity Williams whose vocals added a layer of serene harmonization. Altogether this crew made music with a subtle complexity. Nothing felt over the top, or put on.

You can’t help but feel that this series of ease is front and centre simply because of the personality of the frontman, Afie. He presented himself with a laid back sense of humour, a very Canadian sense of self deprecation, without self-loathing. “We are a Sunday night band,” he told the crowd, “Some people are Friday night bands, but we are a Sunday band.” This level of crowd interaction and jest was at its pinnacle when, while interacting with a crowd member about his accumulation of a beer cup tower, he proceeded to ask for that cup tower to join him on stage. Who knew that swathes of plastic could be so entertaining, but it was Jurvanen’s charisma, that made it all feel like the natural direction of where the concert should go. Backing all of this up with his incredible voice, and storytelling, meant that no matter what, you were entertained. He is probably the only act in rock and roll that has a song about financial responsibility, and based on his clear sense of joy and sense of humour, he can pull off whatever he feels passionate about writing.

Even his “contractual obligation” to walk off stage and come back just showed how much Bahamas does not feel the need bend to the whim of the industrial music machine, but simply to present who he is on stage and in his music. He is the most punk rock musician, who sounds the farthest from punk rock. It is refreshing to see someone so focused on music, and entertaining people in a way that fits in with his own personality, than what the biz deems is entertaining.

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