To dance is to feel alive.
Prairie Dance Club came to us on a warm July night. With the acreage brimming with children, and a full moon rising over the valley, it was a performance filled with an energy that radiated joy among us.
Serenity owner Shirley deVooght had been working on booking the band here for years. This was a long time coming.
Based out of Langley, BC, tonight the band consisted of Jason Davies (vocals, guitars), Jeremy Friesen (bass, background vocals), Dan Kim (guitars) and Ryan Wylie (drums). It was Ryan’s first night playing a show with the band. An old friend of many of the members, Ryan filled in graciously at the last minute to allow this show to happen and he nailed it.
Barefoot on stage, the guys played their hearts out to a crowd who ate it all up. This audience was ready to dance and the band gave them what they came for.
Their most recent EP “Pretty Things” (2013) is one of the tightest collections of tracks I have heard in a while and the 5 songs were standouts from the night’s show. The album also has the reputation as being one of the last recordings at the historic Hipposonic (Mushroom) Studios on West 6th Avenue in Vancouver before it closed its doors last March.
From “Thunder Rd. 2,” a great anthem-like tune that was beyond fitting for our backroad venue with a chorus that echoes Take me out into the mountains and set me free; to “Hold Me to the Fire,” an emotionally weighted song that they delivered in one of their strongest performances of the night.
Their finale was a cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.” They killed it. Shirley’s lifelong friend and Serenity mainstay Lizzy Hopson Cline personally thanked the band afterwards for playing her favourite Neil Young song saying “No one ever plays Cinnamon Girl and does it well, and you did!”
Unfortunately for us, the band had to pack up immediately following the show to drive home, but this is their reality of having other careers and families waiting for them; touring doesn’t come with the same ease as it once did. At this stage in the game, their music is not their full time focus, but has needed to share a seat with their secure day jobs that are necessary for their growing families, with guitarist Dan Kim becoming a dad for the third time just a few weeks ago.
Listening to their perspectives as fathers and husbands was enlightening. Admitting this show had forced them to come out of relative hibernation, they are starting to realize how their priorities have changed, even as it relates to the music they want to create. “Jason and I have been doing a lot of talking,” said Jeremy, “we just aren’t sure about where the future of this band is headed right now.” Furthermore, he explains, “It’s almost like we are feeling a strong need to play harder rock. There is this indie-pop sound that is everywhere right now; it seems to be the only thing that is booking, atleast in Vancouver. We don’t want to do that, we want to play harder, we just want to rebel against everything.” I joked whether this need was being fuelled by their day to day lives of changing diapers and driving kids to soccer practice, which they chuckled at but interestingly enough didn’t refute. Not that I blame them. As a mother of 2 children under 6, I can relate.
As for their writing process, Jason is the primary songwriter, with Jeremy helping to develop the musical elements along with the rest of the band. In terms of current inspirations, Jason has a 6 year old daughter who he mentioned many times throughout the night, likely because the 20 plus children dancing back and forth in front of the stage acted as a constant reminder.
A standout moment of the night was when he cued up their song “City in the Country,” a track Jason wrote about not knowing how to explain to his daughter why all the trees where they played down the street were cut down to build new condominiums. Ironically, they had been reading Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” at the time (if you don’t know it, it’s worth the read, especially for all you environmentalists out there). As we stood there looking out over an endless scene of horse pasture, forest, mountains and river, it was difficult to relate to the environment he described, yet there was empathy among us for those who do not have the opportunity to be constantly surrounded by such natural beauty.
All in all, Prairie Dance Club are a group of extremely talented, kind hearted men who haven’t given up on their dream and passion for creating music, even when the demands of life may stand in their way. Whether it be with this band, or an entirely new path in music for each of them, we wish them luck finding their way.
Prairie Dance Club performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on July 12, 2014.
Visit their website for links to music downloads, their bio and more at http://www.prairiedanceclub.com