Show Review: Said The Whale - We Are The City

Canadian indie shows coming through Metro Detroit can be a lot like rare bird sightings. They happen with little warning and appear at odd times. Most people aren't even aware of the event. Some people see them and don't know the significance. But for a few, getting a glimpse of the Vancouver whale warbler or the Kelowna mourning dove and hearing their songs is something special.

We're kidding about the birds, but the bands are real. On Sun., Oct. 16, Vancouver's Said The Whale and Kelowna, BC's We Are The City flew into town for their first visit to Michigan at the Crofoot's Pike Room, earning a spot on our top shows of 2011 list.

We Are The City had a fly-by last March when they played Windsor's Phog Lounge. This time the band-- Cayne McKenzie at the mic and keys, Andrew Huculiak at the kit and guitarist David Menzel-- brought their forte/piano, creative, progressive alt pop to Pontiac. We love McKenzie's agile, Broadway musical vocals and the variety of their songs . Some have jazz inflections, some are just fun, some are thoughtful; some are just bites of musical bliss like "Dark/Warm Air" (with Huculiak taking a turn at singing).

Whether Said The Whale is winning America remains to be seen, but they'd won us over even before "Emerald Lake, AB," became our NXNE 2010 theme song. In 2011, they won over Juno voters to take home the New Group of the Year award; their video for "Lines," an homage to the movie Back to the Future, was voted Best Video by CBC Radio 3 listeners in the 2011 Bucky Awards. The band is personable, engaging and earnest, on stage and off. So are their irresistible songs that frequently evoke a strong sense of place ("Mermaid sits on a tide-washed rock in the harbour..."), and robust harmonies led by heartthrob Tyler Bancroft's appealing tenor to Ben Worcester's grainier counterpoint.

As the band prepares to release Little Mountain, the much-anticipated follow-up to their debut LP Islands Disappear, in March, whale-watchers will be happy to know the band is returning in April with not one, but two dates: Apr. 16 at Windsor's Capitol Theatre, and Apr. 17 at PJ's Lager House in Detroit. No binoculars required.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images