Brimming with an effervescent brand of folky, synth-infused alternative pop, Canadian indie darlings Hey Ocean! delivered an impassioned performance at Clark Hall on Friday night.
Promising an intimate venue prior to the show, Hey Ocean! delivered. The band put on a fun, energetic and infectious setlist of funky pop numbers spanning their decade-long career, making the audience feel more than willing to sing along to their campfire-inspired melodies.
The nearly lifelong friendship between lead vocalist and flute player Ashleigh Ball, guitarist David Beckingham and bassist/vocalist David Vertesi was on display as they built off each other during the performance, a similar comradery present between the remaining band members.
The most enjoyable aspect of Hey Ocean!’s set was this ability for each member to seamlessly gel with their counterparts. There was a sense of friendship and understanding on stage that complimented the group’s rhythmic, melodic and catchy hooks.
“Music is definitely therapeutic for me and I think for all of us,” David Vertesi told The Journal. “Performing is just this whole other exertion of energy that is super fun, and doing it with people you know and love makes it special.”
“Madera,”a 6-minute slow-burning Latin-inspired ballad about the band’s early days trying to make it in the industry was a definite highlight of the performance.
On a frustrating, stormy day on a beach, the group, feeling dejected and hopeless, began cathartically screaming, “Hey Ocean!” at the body of water in front of them, Ball explained mid-performance. The experience inspired their best song of the evening as well as the group’s namesake.
Little candid moments and stories like this, told between songs, made the show an intimate and uninhibited experience, much of which could be attributed to Ball’s individual performance.
Ball’s sincere vocals and genuine demeanor drew the audience closer and closer to the stage as the night progressed. With conviction in her voice, Ball built a rapport and connection with a crowd. Often, her encouragement led the audience to dance, clap and belt out lyrics with her.
“I love [performing] because I get to access my inner child and I just get to go [to] this really fun, weird place where I feel totally free. You could be in a totally shit room with amps blowing, and if the energy from the crowd is good, it can make it a great show,” Ball said.
Hey Ocean!’s performance was a pleasant reminder of how live music can have the power to get people out of their comfort zones by invigorating their senses and allowing them to connect with each other.
“It’s a rush, I’ve been doing it my whole life and I feel pretty at home [on stage],” Vertesi said. “I think one of the best things about it is that you don’t think — you just do, which is nice. Its energizing, takes you out of your head and puts you into the moment. That’s something that’s hard to do.”
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