Eager fans filled the venue early in anticipation of the tour in support of the band’s newest album, Phantoms.
Doors opened at 7 p.m. and opener DJ George Thoms took to the stage almost immediately after. Truthfully, I wasn’t eager about sitting through a DJ set, but his prompt start time (though certainly, he has no control over that) put him on my good side.
Typically I’m wary about a DJ being set as an opener because more often than not it means that I’ll be forced to listen to lazy mixes of current top 40’s or cheesy rap songs. However, DJ George Thoms quickly broke my predetermined stigma.
?All that she wants is another baby?
“But fellas…that’s her choice!”DJ George Thomas, while sampling Ace of Base
It was immediately evident that quite a bit of thought and care had been put into his nearly 45-minute mix. With incredible plays on words and nods to nostalgic pop-punk favorites and 90s irreplaceables, DJ George Thoms crafted a riveting and nostalgic set.
This guy is undeniably vibrant and inventive. My favorite example of this was when he managed to creatively transition from Smash Mouth’s All Star into another old favorite – causing the crowd to erupt with enthusiasm. (See below).
I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more of his work in the future.
One “Hel” of a Performance
The second that DJ George Thoms concluded his set, Scott Helman took to the stage.
I was pleased to find that there was no set-up in between the two acts and all was moving along smoothly, especially with such a late start time. Plus, with DJ George Thoms having been such an engaging surprise, I was eager to see what the next performers had to offer.
Scott Helman kept the intensity going with ease. The band has an upbeat indie-rock vibe to their sound and impressive live energy. An incredible zest was effortlessly created as all four members of the band interacted with each other on stage.
They had a humble, human and honest approach, playing songs about breakups, toxic friendships, and feeling overworked.
Then one day I woke up and decided, screw it, I wasn’t going to be sad anymore! Anyways, this song is called “Cry Cry Cry”Scott Helmen, ironically
One moment that stood out was during their song “Gaslight,” where they covered Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” The melodies and rhythms of the two songs were so perfectly aligned, that it honestly doesn’t make sense not to combine them.
Scott Helman was a vivacious light and an absolute joy. Want to find out for yourself? Check them out here.
Why Don’t We Just Savor It?
Easily the most theatrical and charismatic group to date, Marianas Trench was sure to put on an incredible show.
What makes these guys stand out is their insistence on creating themed albums. From toybox-themed to 80’s-themed to the now more recently Edgar Allen Poe-themed, the band displays an incredible variety in sound and an impressive collection of talent.
Their set started off exactly how you want an Edgar Allan Poe themed concert to begin – with black-and-white contorted and jarring images on screens containing a ghost-like woman and Mariana’s Trench’s frontman Josh Ramsey.
As these images floated around the screens at the front of the stage, a spooky and intimidating voice made references to Edgar Allen Poe’s poems. The daunting and infamous word “evermore” faded from the screen, and fans welcomed Mariana’s Trench with a sea of cheers.
What I love about Marianas Trench’s sets when they put out a new album and go on tour in support of it is you can count on them to open with the first song on the album and close with the last. This held true on this tour, as they came on stage crying out the opening note to “Elenora” in perfect harmony.
Oh yeah, I may have forgotten to mention that all four band members can sing and that their songs frequently feature vocal harmonization – it’s kind of their thing. Don’t worry, I’ve dropped a video below for proof of this.
If the harmonies aren’t enough to excite you, then the band’s playfulness is. Four songs in, Ramsey jumped into the crowd and paraded through the sea of fans as he sang the entirety of “Haven’t Had Enough.”
He was certain to show off his ability to riff in a playful call and response game with those surrounding him along the way.
In Canada, their popularity demands they pretty much play exclusively arena shows. However, when they tour the U.S., that isn’t the case.
As Ramsey explained, the band is still technically an unsigned indie-rock band here, so fans get the intimate experience of seeing them play live in smaller venues like Varsity Theater.
Does it beat Canada’s free health care? Probably not. But are we incredibly stoked on it? Absolutely.
Later, Marianas Trench tended to the needs of their older fans in an innovative and unique fashion. They efficiently combined two old favorites into one song. Beginning with “Cross My Heart”, they switched over to “Celebrity Status” halfway through. It was an excellent way of ensuring older popular songs wouldn’t go without mentioning.
Just as predicted, after the encore had ensued and it was time for the final song, the band walked off the stage and the beginning notes to the album’s closer started to play.
Ramsey strutted out in with a replica of Edgar Allen Poe’s raven-capped walking stick, staying in character as he sang the opening lyrics to “The Killing Kind.”
As their set came to a close, the band personally handed out every last guitar pick, drum stick, and setlist. This was much more intimate and memorable than having crew members distribute concert keepsakes, making it a personal and special experience for everyone who was lucky enough to catch one.
Then they took a few more humble glances out into the crowd, smiled from ear to ear as each of them took the time to cherish the moment, and finally all held hands at the center of the stage as they descended into one triumphant bow.
Truthfully, no song other than “The Killing Kind” has better lyrics to describe this moment, or the moments fans experienced while Marianas Trench was on stage. “Here and now, if this is it, why don’t we just savor it?“
And savor it, we did.
If you’re not listening to Mariana’s Trench, you need to be. Be sure to check out what you’ve been missing out on here.
Mariana’s Trench Setlist:
- Only the Lonely Survive
- Echos of You
- Here’s to the Zeros
- Pop 101
- Haven’t Had Enough
- Rhythm of Your Heart
- I Knew You When
- All To Myself
- Don’t Miss Me?
- Cross My Heart/Celebrity Status
- Desperate Measures
- One Love
- Good To You
- The Killing Kind