Mother Mother on stage for #UFest2016 at the Amphitheatre, Mount Royal University, Calgary.
© J. Ashley Nixon
It was a September night but it felt like midsummer. Jet streams body-pierced a bright blue sky as the golden earring of the early evening sun tilted timed reflections off the campus clock tower, casting and running across the lake at Mount Royal University (MRU). At least for a moment, there was a passing thought of gladiators performing heroically in this outdoor amphitheatre. Or maybe jousters and jesters congregating in one of the three white, mediaeval-looking festival tents perched above the water.
In any case, a beautiful setting for Mother Mother, one of the best of fine Canadian Indie bands, to be headlining at #Ufest2016. The Vancouver-based band was playing after sets by Ria Mae from Halifax, local act Bad Animal and folk-electro-rock artist, T. Nile to celebrate the beginning of MRU’s new academic year.
The Guldemond siblings, Ryan (vocals & guitar) and Molly (vocals & keyboard) together with Jasmin Parkin (vocals & keyboard), Jeremy Page (bass) and Ali Siadat (drums) were back again in Calgary. Not too long since the five-piece had their last gig, in July, at the Stampede. They must like it here in CowTown. The feeling was mutual amongst the big crowd of students gathered between water’s edge and the Big Rock beer garden.
Mother Mother’s set started up with Reaper Man, one of several highlights from Very Good Bad Thing, released by Universal Music Canada in 2014. This got the drinkers to finish off their beer and head down to the stage front. The band progressed through some other songs from their current album, like I Go Hungry, Modern Love and and the catchy, poppy, sing-along Monkey Tree. Let’s Fall in Love from The Sticks and O My Heart, the opening track from the same-titled 2008 album were next.
Then came a new song, called Free. It follows a common thread in Mother Mother songs about freedom and likely will feature as part of their next studio album due out in 2017. “We are repeating poetic tricks”, said Ryan Guldemond as he introduced his song, and continued: “If you’re going to plagiarize someone, plagiarize yourself. You are still being authentic to the fraudulence within.” He liked that. Poetic indeed. Maybe it’s a line we will see in a future Mother Mother song?
A couple more songs from The Sticks were next, Infinitesimal and The Sticks itself, preceded by a tom-tom-dominated drum solo. Then came Simply Simple from the band’s third album, Eureka (2011). All of this building up to the strongest song from their MRU performance, Get Out of the Way. Chainsaw cutting keyboard riffs from Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin opened this one up for a pounding bass and drum rhythm from Jeremy Page and Ali Siadat. Then three-way vocal popping over an off-beaten shaped, Dalek-like, Guldemond lyric: “I’ll write the perfect song for the perfect day”. Brilliant. Almost bettered by their closing number, Bit By Bit, where the band said their “goodbye to all the la-di-da” and left the stage to retreat for a while in their jousting tent.
For more photos of music gigs and events in Canada, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography