Are you looking for an adventure? Do you want to sail the world to loot, pillage, and plunder? Do you like to drink copious amounts of alcohol and wake up feeling the brunt of your poor decisions? If you answered yes to all those questions, maybe it’s time for you to join the ranks and catch The Dread Crew of Oddwood on the road as they make their way across North America. That is what I did on the 13th of August 2015 at The Hindenburg in downtown Vancouver.
The first act to grace the stage of the venue was Precious Dudes, a local opener that is as baffling as it is entertaining. The quartet is a musically talented ensemble fronted by a long string bean of a man whose stage outfit and antics distract from even trying to assess whether the band is good or not. As he slides across the stage on his knees and yells in the microphone with a high-pitched voice; you simply cannot peel your eyes off the craziness unfolding in front of your eyes. I am still unable to tell if the dudes are indeed precious, but they are at least diverting, if not a little droll.
After Precious Dudes bowed out, the crowd was treated to a beautiful green-haired effeuilleuse who expertly shed her fancy pirate garb and danced to the tune of Alestorm’s “Shipwrecked” before making way for the chiptune hero that is Rainbowdragoneyes.
Corpse paint on, Rainbowdragoneyes delighted the Vancouver crowd with his Gameboy music mixed with his harsh and surprisingly silvery clean vocals, and his unparalleled stage presence. What always amazes me about Rainbowdragoneyes is the length at which he goes to interact with his mesmerized crowd. Usually confined behind the drums in his other projects, Eric Brown seems to take great pleasure in including his fans in his performance, spending a very limited amount of time on stage and electing to mingle with the people standing to see him by singing in their faces, wrapping his arms around them, dancing with them, pretending to choke them, enticing them to clap along and raise their hooks, etc. With an excellent set featuring “Creatures Ov Deception,” “Heavy Weather: The Storm Ov The Undead,” and “Fortress Ov Frost,” Rainbowdragoneyes satisfied the people’s 8-bit hunger before resuming his percussive duties behind the oddkit with The Dread Crew of Oddwood.
Right before The Dread Crew of Oddwood started, a second equally stunning yarrlesque dancer wiggled out of her clothes as a song by The Real McKenzies blasted into the small and charming venue, hypnotizing the crowd with her smiles and winks.
Though Rainbowdragoneyes was a tough act to follow, The Dread Crew of Oddwood headlined the night brilliantly. Walking on stage in full pirate outfit, the Californian six-piece started off the evening with their rendition of “Shipping Up To Boston,” adapted with their own lyrics to fit as an introduction piece.
Within seconds, one thing became abundantly clear: the recent departure of Oddwood’s guitar player has left absolutely nothing to be desired. Without the acoustic guitar taking the lead and drowning out the bouzouki and the mandolin, The Dread Crew of Oddwood acquired a sound that is older, purer, and more medieval sounding than ever before. Every instrument, even the often overlooked toy piano, gets its fair share of the spotlight.
The six musicians set the crowd ablaze by playing the crowd favourite sing along “When I Sail’d” and by telling an epic tale of pirates fighting zombies with “Flesh Breakfast.” Though the stage at The Hindenburg is significantly smaller than the stage where I had last seen The Dread Crew of Oddwood, the performance of the sextet was not affected in the least and the entire band displayed the same energy that has made The Dread Crew of Oddwood one of the most interesting live band I have ever gotten the chance to see.
From the gravelly voice of the frontman and accordion player Captain Wolfbeard O’Grady, the deep bassline and voice of Smithy Crow, the musical perfection and onstage shenanigans of brothers Stark and Deckard Cordwain, to the playful style of Riven Rahl, the hexad’s set was delightful from start to finish, like watching a group of bards in a tavern in the 1500s. The exuberant showgoers sang and danced along to just about everything the band threw at them like “Æirship Of Doom” and “Binged and Purged,” watched in awe as the musicians said goodbye to their recently departed bandmates by playing the heartfelt “The Dread Crew of Oddwood,” and closed their indefectible set with “Cities Burning.”
As usual, The Dread Crew of Oddwood amazed and impressed all in attendance, but don’t just take my word for it; catch them at a venue near you and see for yourself!
Written and Photographed by Kai Robidas
*edited by Danielle Kenedy