By Adam Styles
CALGARY – The Ashley Hundred have just released their latest album, and the only thing better than finally bumping these tunes in your car, is dancing your ass off to them at one of their notorious live shows.
This band has been steadily rising in Calgary’s music scene in the past few years, and it’s obvious why. Their indie-rock attitude, paired with their masterful mix of music genres, creates a truly engaging and entertaining show. The optics are non-traditional, but come together well with tribal-style drumming, sparkling electric guitars, swampy keyboards, alongside banjo and pedal steel. Each member of the five piece ensemble could front a different genre of band (and admittedly many of them do), but their ability to come together in a cohesive, albeit surreal, live show is impressive.
The release show was opened by local psych favorites Fox Who Slept the Day Away, whose washed out, driving indie efforts paired well with what was to come, having shared the stage with TAH many times. Archaics were the guests on the bill, and brought excellent musicianship to a ‘60s-come-‘90s art rock foundation. The two front men had notably different styles, but kept up with each other well, with well-rehearsed turns and stops.
The headlining Ashley Hundred brought their A-game and their A-gear, dressed sharply in blazers and bolo ties, with more instruments onstage than people.
They were tight and cohesive group, but none of their songs felt inauthentic or overly-rehearsed. They had a firm grip on the audience, and had us dancing one minute and thoughtfully listening to their lyrics the next.
Those of us who have followed their maturity through the Calgary indie-sphere, particularly highlighted by the split EP with fellow Calgary band, 36?, have a new high water mark. With the songs from their new album, they’ve found their groove, and have leant into their eclectic sound.
With such a polished and subtle release, one could imagine the live interpretations to skew towards the slow and meandering, and thus struggle to keep attention for a full 60 minute set, but their presence on stage was one of both comfort and energy, this was a hometown show, and they played to a thankfully adoring audience.
If for some crazy reason their latest self-titled album doesn’t win you over, we promise that their live performance will make you fall in love.
The Ashley Hundred’s new, self-titled album is available now.Archaics, CD Release, Dickens, indie, the Ashley Hundred