It’s a birds and the bees sort of question… Or maybe a chicken or the egg sort of question… What came first the rosined violin strings, major falls, classical theory or the smashed guitars, split finger tips and sweaty bodies?
To see the Balconies play is nothing short of grasping at science. Even when placed down neatly in a Petri dish underneath thumbs and forefingers – the DNA-code of their infectious pop hooks interweaved with classical sensibility and theory is hard to discern. At what point did their university-learned mastery of classical theory give birth to their understanding of rock and roll energy and pop structuring? Hence the whole chicken-or-the-egg conundrum...
“Whoa, check out the vocal pipes on that one!”, “I can’t stop dancing!”, “Those bass lines are so bold!” “I heard they were created in a lab!”, “I want to live on those eyelashes!” – cry the swarms of people, mouths open and half-finished bottles held waiting for the set’s end so as not to miss a moment.
But the Ottawa ex-pats don’t bat an uncoordinated lash – they play onwards in sweaty leather, haloed by the spotlight.
The Balconies are a band with a story. Siblings Jacquie and Stephen Neville lead from their perches at the front of the stage, with Jacquie’s wide-eyed guitar strums and Stephen’s lanky bass lines tumbling in a dryer filled with Liam Jaeger’s rhythmic peppering.
For those well-versed in indie-rock archetypes, the Balconies’ beginnings – boy meets girl in university while studying classical music; girl drags brother out of school and into the basement; boy, girl and younger brother pound out rock jams to the outstretched arms of Ottawa bars. But beginnings are just that – the roots that sprouted.
Things change. We all know this. Hair grows longer, eyes grow wider and calluses form. The sprawl of our government’s city could no longer hold the sweaty crowds, and with hungry hearts – like a trio of lost city racoons –The Balconies made their way to Toronto to bask in the spoils of the vibrant music scene.
Aperitifs were provided – in the form of a self recorded release – while ballrooms buzzed for something more complete. The seasons somersaulted and the trio shed their rookie-skin playing an endless stream of shows and festivals from coast to coast. Sharing the stage with Cold War Kids, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Auf der Maur, Mother Mother, Land of Talk, and Sloan and killing decibels at Ottawa Bluesfest, North by Northeast, Canadian Music Fest, WESTFEST, all the way to Pop Montreal, The Balconies sowed their loyal fanbase.
But the hunger remains, so The Balconies have enlisted notable producer Jon Drew (Tokyo Police Club, Fucked Up) for their first full length and will unleash a new 7-inch May 2011 with two songs recorded by Drew.
Somewhere in the city, speakers still ring with the remnants of The Balconies feedback. And ring on they will, as The Balconies leave a trail of exploded speakers and broken drumsticks in their wake. So if you’re not interested in sparring vocals, feedback, whipping hair, sweaty bodies, dancing drums and bottom-heavy bass lines, steer clear of the Balconies.
If you fancy a riot of gargantuan rhythmic proportions, swing by.
Oh... and bring earplugs – this will get loud.