Concert Review: Wild Rivers @ Songbyrd Music House (7/14/17)

Wild Rivers
Wild Rivers in New York on July 12, 2017 (Photo Credit: FB @wildriversband)

Where were you on Bastille Day? Some people were making beautiful music at the Songbyrd Music House.

Without fanfare or pleasantries, Wild Rivers got to the heart of the matter and eased into their set, that would see them perform all their songs to the Songbyrd crowd.

I say all, but I could be wrong – they played 13 songs overall and didn’t come back for a singing encore. (They did come back for a meet and greet encore.)

In some ways they acted a little surprised by the fans that came to see them, when Khalid Yassein (vocals, guitar) joked, “Who are you guys here for?” And there were many obvious fans who sang along with their songs. One person also shouted “Canada!!” – without apology!

This is their first US tour for their first album, after having toured in Eastern Canada in 2016.

Oh yeah, Wild Rivers are a Canadian indie folk band, founded by Khalid and Devan Glover (vocals), along with Ben Labenski (drums) and Andrew Oliver (bass).

Khalid and then Devan started the night with “Wandering Child” (also their first single as a band), an excellent look at how the rich interplay of vocal harmonies are the force behind most of their songs. They actually started as a duo known as Devan & Khalid before the new band was born.

Later came “Undercover”, a breezy sounding song, yet one of repressed thoughts and feelings. “Speak Too Soon” was probably my favorite song of the night, about first love but maybe you’re not so sure and you don’t want to risk putting a name on it. Well, do it!

Wild Rivers do like to name check other artists – presumably influences – like in “Paul Simon” (Paul and Leonard Cohen), a song that may conjure reminisces of Simon & Garfunkel, and the closer of the night, “Do Right” (Death Cab for Cutie), a song that now just made me go back and listen to Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights”.

And “Do Right” really overtook Songbyrd, as Devan brought the full power of her voice to bear. Harmonizing never caused so many spine-tingling chills. Little did we know this was our last chance to hear them, and we wanted more!

A fine way to celebrate Bastille Day.

Look for Wild Rivers the next time they come to DC. Guys, according to Khalid and his vantage point, there was a “10 to one girl to guy ratio” at the show! I don’t want to speak too soon, but this could be your chance.

Get yourself a copy of their self-titled album; to tide you over until they release a new one.

Setlist
Wandering Child
Already Gone (I think)
Undercover
Heart Attack
Paul Simon
Unknown
Unknown (new one)
Rolling Stone
Speak Too Soon
Next Best Thing
Unknown
Unknown
Do Right

An aside: Experiencing live music gives us the chance to witness musicians doing what they love; creating and performing, while hopefully finding an audience to share it with. And you don’t have to like the particular music to appreciate and respect that.

To be clear, I like what Wild Rivers is doing. I enjoy a good folk ditty (and at one point in my life even listened to country music!).

With that in mind, very rarely do I get annoyed at a concert. Unpredictable things happen all the time; sound is not right, equipment doesn’t work, or whatever. But the single biggest issue that is unacceptable is people carrying on conversations. Communicate succinctly, make a quick point – acceptable. Usually the concert is loud enough to drown people out, but not so at Songbyrd, the entire back half of the venue had groups carrying on multiple conversations to the point where they grew louder and louder and competed in volume with the music. Seriously, shut up. Some of us came to appreciate a show that the band was very clearly passionate to perform.

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