On March 1st, 2020, beautifully soft retro feels were felt by all at L’Astral, when Summer Salt, Okay Dokey, and Breakup Shoes performed on a very flowery stage, with what seemed like only tenderness and sweetness in their hearts.
Breakup Shoes and Okey Dokey served up a great prelude to the main act of the evening, warming the crowd up so much that the entire audience was already holding each other in full hugs by the time Summer Salt arrived onstage. Breakup Shoes played up their most comforting melodies along to their typical retro video looks, brushing a sense of quaintness over the room. Their performance was nothing short of smooth and was executed with care; hat tip goes off to band members Nick Zawisa (vocals/guitar), Matthew Witsoe (drums), and John MacLeod (guitar) for somehow communicating a great sense of humbleness only through only song and presence.
Okey Dokey had us tapping our feet to frontman and visual artist Aaron Martin’s confident stride onstage. This folk band with ever-changing band members felt like they had known each other forever, like the tunes they were playing had always been around, especially their wonderful cover of “It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighbourhood” from favourite children’s show Mister Rogers Neighbourhood. Martin was very engaging with some very overstated moves including walking directly into the crowd, all the way to the sound booth and back which got nearly everyone he passed by to smile big stupid stoned smiles. The unmistakable ‘lovey’ atmosphere was spreading through the whole venue. The crowd seemed completely in love with each other, the music, the scene before their eyes, and just life in general.
Saying these bands were well paired for this tour would be a complete understatement. All the bands on the bill were groups of musicians focused on pleasure and having fun, not to mention very similar in genre (retro folk crossed with some heavy doo-wop influences). A very ‘hipstery’ lineup, if you will, including orange worker’s hats, Doc Martins, and 80s style glasses. Other than good band pairing, the evening was also at a very appropriate venue; not too big which added a little extra intimacy and clear sound to provide that really bright output.
Only waves of happiness and a strong yearning for sunrays could be noticed during Summer Salt’s performance; so many positive vibes you’d wish you were laying on a beach somewhere, maybe with a couple little pieces of paper on your tongue for good measure. They transported us to an alternate universe where 60s/70s style keyboard was the default, and offered a performance that didn’t so much as miss a beat. Contrary to many performances out there, the softest part of the evening was the headliners. Vocalist and guitarist, Anthony Barnett’s unbelievably soft voice was alluring; the urge to drive to California in a convertible and make-out with my lover on a secret hill, was very hard to resist watching this set. Smooth and warm, the crowd swayed back and forth as one, and Summer Salt managed to get everyone to look at life with rose-coloured glasses. It’s really hard to be negative when you’ve got such a convincing positive gently cradling you into a ‘hippidy-hoppidy’ mood.
After some bouncing around, and a little bit of the ever-lovely and ever-talented frontman Matthew Terry inviting guests onstage for some more bouncing around, the world was completely coloured in pastel. Wonderful harmonies and comforting voices can’t steer you wrong; and the crowd’s reaction was evident of this. Everyone was so peaceful that between songs and applause were only small giggles in a rather quiet room adorned with sunflowers and colourful lights.
Performances of this
type aren’t my usual areas of expertise, but even still, I was left quite
satisfied and very much entranced. To me, that is the success to be proud of.
If you can pull someone random off the street and show them a good time, and
have that good feeling last on their way home, you can consider your job done well.
Written by Talia Plante
*edited by Danielle Kenedy