For Wild Rivers frontman Khalid Yassein, a show in Kingston means returning to his alma mater as an outsider, and then feeling like he’d never truly left.
The Toronto-based band formed while Yassein and vocalist Devan Glover were students at Queen’s. Since then, their relationship with their Kingston shows have been a pivotal part of their personal and musical experience.
On Mar. 6, the band will take the stage at Ale House and play the second-to-last show in their Far Departed Tour. The tour comes on the heels of their recent single release, “Moving Target.”
The single, a follow-up to their fast-paced EP, Eighty-Eight, slows it down. Led by Yassein harmonizing with Glover, an electric guitar accompanies the song’s soft piano, giving life to one of the song’s first lyrics, “Pick up
the phone / I’m coming in strong and soft.” It marks a slight departure, folding a contemporary sound into their folk identity,while staying true to their roots.
The lyrics—primarily written by Yassein—have depth and sincerity reflected in their unflinching honesty. It’s not a surprise, as the music is a direct product of Yassein’s life.
“We were on the road a bunch last year and ‘Moving Target’ was the message to the other person in a long-distance relationship,” Yassein said in an interview with The Journal. “I was up at 4 in the morning, and then finished the song.”
Prior to “Moving Target,” Yassein said the band began to change their recording style during the production of Eighty-Eight.
In a contrast to the productionof their 2016 self-titled album, the EP incorporated denser arrangements that included the whole band. Song writing transferred from something Yassein passionately pursued individually, to a team project.
“The song ‘Howling,’ we all wrote together,” he told The Journal. “Songs are coming from a couple different places now and that only makes them better.”
For Yassein, the experience of touring has increased the band’s comfort playing live shows, matching their concerts’ growing scale. When first starting out, he admitted the band tended to pressure themselves more during performances.
“We’re traveling with a sound person and just the scale of our touring has increased,” he said. “We’re comfortable now and we can have fun with it.”
The first leg of their tour kicked off in January, with a stretch of shows in the United States.
A tour highlight for Yassein was a small, intimate show played in Portsmouth, Virginia. With an audience of about 100 people, the band traded stories and conversation with the crowd while introducing their music.
In contrast, a show at Toronto’s Opera House appears to the be the band’s biggest as a headliner, introducing a new phase of their career.
Meanwhile, Kingston music fans’ have the chance to rekindle their love of Wild Rivers in the first week of March, and Yassein hopes to give them an opportunity to experience new songs, while reminiscing with the old.
“[Kingston] has an important place in the band’s history,” Yassein said.
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