It was Easter weekend and Lion and Firkin was filling up for Common Deer and Holy Mind Funk. After a few months on hiatus due to the loss of guitarist and founding member, Adam Wood, the HMF boys took some time to both restructure their existing tunes for a three piece band and write new ones. Getting your footing back after losing a member can always be trying, but Holy Mind Funk seemed to glide into pace effortlessly. They brought their pals Common Deer up from Toronto to play their hometown gig.
As the taps lubricated the spirits of attendees, Matt Kilbourne, guitarist for Holy Mind Funk and amateur comedian, got the night started with some of his stand-up routine. His set had the feel of a relaxed basement comedy open mic with plenty of crowd participation and calling out Newmarket on its flaws as a metropolitan area. It would still be a few minutes before Common Deer were ready to play, so Matt asked his buddy ‘Big Dave’ Bastian to fill the gap. He started with a dick joke (always a hit) and seemed surprisingly well-prepared for his impromptu Newmarket debut. Both of these guys are hilarious, so if you see their names on a bill, check them out! You won’t be disappointed.
On with the show. From their sound check, it was clear that Common Deer were not your typical rock band. Lead singer and guitarist Graham McLaughlin shifted seamlessly from guitarist to violinist. It is a welcome change seeing a cellist and a keyboardist as well. Not to downplay bassist Connor Farrell who was great in his own right or the drummer Liam Farrell who was quite skilled and used a variety of techniques and styles, but having a cello up front always steals the show. Their silky alt-rock style with heavy overtones of folk influence would translate well into any bar scene and really impressed those that wandered in. They threw in a few covers to peak interest including a great rendition of “Hay Loft” by Mother Mother and a Broken Social Scene tune where Graham broke out the sax. These guys seem to be ‘jacks of all musical trades’ as Sheila Hart-Owens (keys), took up lead vocals on their covers and Adam Hart-Owens (cello), strapped on a guitar. It is one thing to have all the equipment to throw into the mix, but it is another to know when, where and how to do it without sounding cluttered. These guys have a great command of their instruments and their art, I am excited to see what comes next.
The best part about Holy Mind Funk, other than their awesome music, is seeing how pumped they are to play. They had restructured quite a bit and have opted for a more alternative-rock vibe than their earlier sound which leaned heavily toward blues. They opened with “Clouds”, where Matt took up lead vocals. Bassist Chris Seymour took the main vocal reins for their next tune, “Sex Things”, as well as for the rest of the set. Drummer Corey Hess shone on their third tune, “Feels So Good”. Their new sound was complimented well by their cover of Nirvana’s “Breed”. It was awesome to see Adam join the boys on stage for another, but hopefully not the last go. They also kept some of the more blues leaning tunes adapting them for one guitarist, like Dessert Sessions and the head-nodder “Baby Boomer”. The crowd responded with dancing, in the small space the Lion allowed they got as many on the floor as they could. Holy Mind Funk played long after they said they would be playing their last one; being held up by the audience’s demands for more rock. These guys may have had a small hurdle to jump but they are back and rocking hard.
Written by Jarod Semple
Photography by Sarah Semple