Hey! Ocean deserves the !

Coldsnap opens up the season with last year's favourite band: Hey! Ocean

Hey! Ocean’s David Beckingham and Ashleigh Ball share a microphone during their set.

Hey! Ocean’s David Beckingham and Ashleigh Ball share a microphone during their set.

It might be a little early for Coldsnap news, but mother nature didn’t wait for winter before she brought snow and the organizers of Coldsnap didn’t wait until the festival to bring Prince George last year’s favourite Coldsnap band.

Coldsnap organizers took advantage of Hey! Ocean’s cross-country tour to announce this year’s line-up while bringing good music to Prince George.

Proving their popularity, Hey! Ocean packed the Thirsty Moose Pub, up at UNBC. The pub served as a great venue, with reasonably priced drinks and an intimate atmosphere, which allowed for some interaction between bands and the crowd.

The crowd itself was a mixed affair, with university kids making up the greater part of the crowd, with salt-and-pepper haired attendees shaken into the mix.

The concert gained momentum through the night, culminating in an avalanche of energy from both band and audience.

Local band Imera’s Thieves opened the night with danceable indie songs. Imera’s Thieves were neophytes, the show being only their fourth live performance of their short career, which showed through with some nervous banter, but some solid songs and well-rehearsed set brought the first signs of life from an audience still frigid from the cold.

Alvarez Kings, an up and coming English band, took over the audience warming duties.

The four piece band of Yorkshiremen had been traveling with Hey! Ocean for four weeks, through much of Canada and previously through the north-east of U.S.A. Their familiarity with Hey! Ocean allowed the boundaries between the two bands to blur for a bit.

Their energy moved like ripples from a stone in a pond, from the bouncing band on stage and the first bouncing row moving outwards to nodding heads and tapping feet to smooth out around the standees at the back.

The music itself was a very British retrospective of the ’80 post-punk scene à la Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand, with plenty of electronic, 80s beats and syncopated clapping, which the audience was encouraged to join in on.

The Alvarez Kings pounded their way through their set, barely pausing between songs to chatter with the audience.

Half-way through the set, pockets of dancing began to form towards the back of the crowd as the music began to worm it’s way past ears and into the legs and arms of the crowd, propelled by volume high enough to invert ear drums.

Before the end of the set both the Alvarez Kings’ Sean Parkin the guitarist and Paul Thompson the bassist tumbled from the stage to play in the midst of the crowd, pumping up the energy of the crowd even further.

By the end of the set, the band had let everything out; Richard Walker the drummer now shirtless and Simon Thompson the lead singer sweating like he’d done eight hours hard labour, the band left the stage to huge applause.

The crowd began to push into the stage during the intermission, getting ready for the headliner, Vancouver’s Hey! Ocean, obviously a crowd favourite.

After a quick introduction, the only band to get one on the night, Hey! Ocean took to the stage to applause. The band, singer Ashleigh Ball, drummer David Vertesi and guitarist David Beckingham, were joined by Devon Lougheed of Vancouver band Beekeeper on stage to round out their live sound.

Their music flowed through an eclectic range of influences in a uniquely ineffable Canadian way that had strains of hip hop, reggae, ska, indie, pop and electronic mix together. Whatever influences wove through their music, Hey! Ocean ran them ragged and pumped them up to eleven in their show. Over top Ball’s high voice existed somewhere between Minnie Mouse and Jessica Rabbit. Ball was the centre of the band, a fount of charisma as she strutted back and forth between Lougheed and Beckingham on other side of her, ran her fingers through her hair and danced her way across the stage.

Three-quarters of the way through the show, their energy came to a head as the Alvarez Kings joined them on stage in a giant breakdown/freakout of pounding drums.

Hey! Ocean reached back to the 60s for material, covering the Ronettes “Be My Baby” after a brief introduction by way of Destiny Child’s intro to Bootylicious.

After the band left the stage, the crowd yelled for an encore, but not in those words as English seems to have taken back the call for a lengthened set, so calls of ‘one more song’ rose from the crowd, who stayed at it until the band came back on stage to play the crowd out with a cover of Arcade Fire and another one of their own.

With those songs, the house lights went down and the crowd poured out of the pub and down the hill into the cold winter night.