THE TEA PARTY: THIS A ROCK CONCERT
written by Rea Raven
Making their presence known immediately, the Tea Party take their places on stage at the legendary Commodore Ballroom, sawaying along with the vibrations of the music as it borders between hard rock and whimsically elegant instrumental passages.
Frontman/singer Jeff Martin, in a low v-neck shirt that shows off his chest hair, continually tried to get a smile out of the audience by making silly comments or telling stories in-between songs, which provided a nice level of interaction.
During one of these in-between story tellings, a new element is added to the mix on this rainy evening. Tonight, they are recording a live album and want us to “get crazy and show the rest of the world that Vancouver is THE ROCK N’ ROLL CITY!” in support of their new album The Ocean At The End – which they proclaim is “pretty fuckin’ good” (and why would they lie?) Clearly the folks out tonight are in agreement, some bouncing up and down in the crowd, some raising their fists or drinks, and the rest chanting along when the moment requires.
The room quiets when a melodic song is dedicated in memory of Martin’s mother who recently passed. He reminds us that death is a part of life, that she is in a better place, and while there, he’d like her to get a load of this song! Giving respect to ones elders, maintaining positive memories and remembering to laugh are beautiful things. Band members, Jeff Burrows and Stuart Chatwood, are also introduced and get the applause they deserve, as these three guys really have a good thing going together. You’d never guess that they had taken a ten year hiatus before this album’s release, then again that’s a long time to practice and perfect one’s intention.
Enthusiasm continues throughout the evening, and the incredibly sexy music just keeps on going. There are a few solo instrumentals which include various majestic string instruments that this band is well known for during their lengthy songs. Musically the Tea Party really don’t fall in to one genre, though they do consider themselves hopeless romantics who love the darkness. The air holds an intensity that can be felt as lyrics are sung passionately and truthfully, even if it hurts. This is evident during a new song ‘The World Is On Fire’, which is performed with intense emotion.
The band makes a proposal: “If anyone has acid or mushrooms, this is the time they should take them.” Recognizing that sovereignty over our own consciousness, is important in this society, and has the potential to enhance musical experiences, but it’s valuable to remember that there are alternate and less recreational settings that may be more ideal or beneficial when using medicinal plants, than in a loud crowded room. (which does not get any mention.) This statement leads to echoing vocals as a crashing bass drum holds a steady rumble that keeps us engaged throughout the next song.
The classic ‘Do you want some more?’ question playfully makes an appearance, which oddly brings a conclusion to their set. Then it makes sense why they leave the stage for less than a minute, before stomping and yelling call them back. More reverence is given as their encore starts out with a Jimi Hendrix cover and continues to keep spirits high. “You keep this up and we’re never gonna go home..” which ended up nearly being the case as they accepted applause, left the stage only to return for a second encore which gets counted in, 1-2-3-4! The energy is palpable even to the end of the set, when drum cymbals are crashed violently with bare hands, instead of drumstick.
The band’s excess confidence was a tad over the top as Martin leaves us with the comment “Hey Vancouver, you ever wonder what absolute power sounds like? It sounds like this!” Then again, the room was crowded and full of adoring fans, and I suppose that is a definition of absolute power and he is just acknowledging that!
The band leaves us with a slight shift to a slower and calmer vibe which leaves a lingering tune in our minds, as we depart from an evening not easy to forget.
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written by Rea Raven