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Photo courtesy of Birds of Bellwoods.

Gig Pick: Birds of Bellwoods at Neat Cafe—12.08.18

By Stephane Dubord on December 5, 2018



Spending this coming Saturday night at Neat Café in Burnstown will go a long way in chasing away those winter blues.

After you’ve taken care of your baser needs with great food and drinks at the café, nestle into the cozy barn for a night of intimate music with one of Canada’s most promising bands, Birds of Bellwoods.

2018 has been a momentous year for the band, culminating with the release of their first full-length album Victoria last month. While the buzz leading up to the album has been building steadily since the band gained attention as finalists of the 2017 RBC Emerging Musician Program, including features on CBC Radio, in Exclaim!, AXS and iHeartRadio Canada, the album delivers on that promise, and then some.

Leading off with the indie-folk “Melatonin” and “A Year Ago”, listeners are immediately drawn in to infectious tracks tailor-made for crowd sing-alongs. From there on, the boys meander through various influences, from the more pop-flavored “Something Good” and “Kiss Me” to the harder edged “Hey Hey”, uplifting ballads “Don’t Look Back” and “My Heart Is Yours” and their single “Let You Go” that caught the attention of Live 88.5 listeners this summer.

The songs may at first seem to be somewhat erratic in sounds, a product of songwriting that spanned their first five years of existence and their growth as a band and as individual musicians. But from the opening track to the country-tinged “Leaving Song” closer, the Birds of Bellwoods sound underpins the entire album—one that blends the group’s proficient musicianship (provided by Kintaro Akiyama on bass, and Adrian Morningstar and Chris Blades on guitar) and soothing harmonies characteristic of the new indie-folk sound, but filtered through a broad palette of influences and layered with the youthful energy of Steve Joffe’s vocals. The end result makes for an indie-folk album that feels fresher and more modern, without losing that authentic feel.

We were blown away at the reception we got, especially since we didn’t even have an album out yet.

When we spoke with Akiyama and Blades, they mentioned how much they are looking forward to the Neat Café show in particular on this first headliner tour to support the album.

“When we played there in April, the place was sold out, and we were blown away at the reception we got,” said Akiyama, “especially since we didn’t even have an album out yet.”

The December 8 show should raise the stakes even more, as they’ll not only get to play the Café again, but they’ll get to stretch out their set for this show, as the only stop on the tour to feature a full ninety minute set. Given the cozy confines and traditional feel of the venue, Birds of Bellwoods and Neat Café seem to be a perfect fit. The question remains whether it can contain the group’s high energy performances, as Ottawa has been able to attest to in their last performances at Hopped and Confused last August and the Dragonboat Festival last June. Catch these Birds in an intimate venue while you can – they may soon be migrating to much larger pastures in the near future.

Birds of Bellwoods play Neat Cafe in Burnstown on Saturday, December 8, 2018. Tickets are $30 at the door.