This past Monday at Off Broadway, Timber Timbre headlined with Toronto-based Fiver and local artist Bo and the Locomotive as opening acts. The band's brand of cinematic rock provided an appropriate and climactic denouement.
Had the evening began and ended with Fiver, one of Simone Schmidt's side vehicles, the mood would have been neatly set, but not so dearly consummated as when Timber Timbre performed. Among the rich textual landscape of its songs, a theme reoccurs: fear and danger. From "Lonesome Hunter": "Well I've done some truly awful things / And you must be very terrified / Well you have every reason to be frightened / Since you been reading my mind...Every heart is a lonesome hunter." Metaphors for a forlorn lover notwithstanding, there's something dark teased in these lyrics and other songs: "Bad Ritual" a song to a ghostly lover and "Black Water" a dream-like rumination.
Timber Timbre's frontman Taylor Kirk seems a fount of grave and ethereal subject matter. His voice befits the music's cinematic-style, a rich baritone with quivering energies. The lyrics hover just out of the ordinary, an out-of-placeness that blends well with the heady blues rhythms and riffs. Comparison to other bands fail meekly and the music stands on its own, nearly without peers, mainly due to Taylor's voice and vision which clearly shapes these ghostly narratives. These may be niche songs, but they seem at the cusp of something great. A new genre? Ghost rock?
Taylor admitted to the crowd early on that the tour had been "shitty" to date, and then thanked the audience for the turnout, another insight into an intensity that seems driven by equal parts malaise and melody. That intensity gave the Monday night concert-goers a reason to rally, and when midway through the set, a cranky Kirk demanded that a fan put down a recording iPhone, the full weight of the audience loyalty fell squarely at his feet. He is an artist and his art is soulful. Somehow, a shaky, tinny recording of this performance popping up on YouTube didn't seem right, an insult more than flattery. Chastised, the fan now sang along with his hands in his pockets, brooding just like the subject of his erstwhile documentary.
The encore, with Taylor playing solo with his "French Canadian machines," i.e. guitar and amps, began with "Run from Me" -- "Run from me baby / Run my good wife / Run from me baby / You better run for your life" -- and then with Simon Trottier, Mathieu Charbonneau on keyboards and Olivier Fairfield on drums joined in again. The theme may have been dark, but it begged the audience to ponder the psyche that sings so sweetly of things so frightening.