LIVE REVIEW: Jaws Of Love in Montreal
Going from band member to solo star can sometimes be a leap of faith with mixed results at best, but don’t tell that to the people watching Local Natives’ Kelcey Ayer in Montreal on Saturday. On the first of a six-city jaunt through the east coast, Ayer took to the stage at the city’s cozy Casa del Popolo to give fans a taste of his more gloomy and inward-sounding solo project Jaws of Love. Based on how the crowd received it at the end of the night, you could say the adjustment period was pretty short and sweet.
Openers Raveen and Combat! gave set the tone of to the proceedings nice and smoothly early on, with the former giving a warm, James Blake-esque electronic indie rock sound with Prismizer vocal effects and a cello added in for good measure, and the latter provided plenty of cerebral, somewhat dark beats that glided to the tempo of his live drumsticks being played on his production equipment. Combat! in particular came equipped with not only crisp instrumentals and sublime production value, but some pretty hilarious stage banter to boot (“I gotta say, it feels good to take a little vacation from the USA!”, he quips at one point). It wouldn’t be the last we’d see of his entertaining monologues, either, as Ayer would have some of his own to share with him onstage – aside from them playing together during the show itself, of course.
While they weren’t trading jokes about the fall of America, Ayer carried the set with a strong, almost studio-quality live voice on top of his introspective, singer-songwriterish aesthetic. Some of the songs played tonight (eg. “Lake Tahoe” and “Jaws of Love”) are perhaps too piano-heavy and slow-moving to be used for his day job, but he nonetheless had the packed crowd engaged and in a state of hypnosis. The electronic elements heard in his music are a nice touch as well, and Combat!’s assistance on that front throughout the set displayed solid chemistry between the two. It feels a bit like Patrick Watson meets Portishead and Four Tet, and it comes together particularly nicely in this sort of environment.
Just when we thought he might not give an encore despite cheers from the crowd, Ayer comes back to give us – surprise! – a couple Local Natives tracks before the houselights go up, giving a stripped down take on “You & I” and “Colombia” to huge applause. Even before then, however, Ayer’s performance Saturday night as Jaws of Love is should certainly serve as proof that he can hack it as a solo project standing as its own entity from his main project, and also that it has potential to be embraced as such sooner rather than later.
Words and photos by
Words and Photos by David Macintyre