Sometimes nights unfold in ways that are not able to predict that can take you by surprise and remind you what you love most about the world.
The Wild Romantics performance at Serenity brought with it an energy that carried on until the early morning hours that sent us to sleep under a blanket of stars. The history and reputation of the band’s fronting duo of Aleisha Kalina and Evan Miller proceeded their visit to the acreage. Over the past year in particular their name has been mentioned by musicians traveling through or on our social media feeds. Countless accolades from trusted sources, including booking agent Todd Menzies of Menzies Music Productions, were automatic cues that they were a band to take notice of and when Menzies called Serenity to book them for the tour, venue owner Shirley de Vooght didn’t hesitate.
The venue doesn’t host many shows in the summer months as de Vooght is busy operating her B & B full time and preparing the grounds for the three day Harvest Music Festival in early September. All the reason why this particular show had much anticipation leading up to it for Serenity regulars.
What we got was a performance filled with passion, aesthetic appeal, excellent musicianship and did I say passion? The Wild Romantics have evolved from their folk roots into a full fledged rock band, complete with their slick black-clad handsome backing band, the gorgeous fronting duo of Miller and Kalina have established an image of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Evan Miller with his wide-brimmed hat and long black locks, looking like he was born on stage and Kalina with her golden hair, striking face and moves that will get anyone all hot and bothered…it is virtually impossible to keep your eyes off of her. From her husky, bluesy voice and ability to enchant everyone within a five mile radius, Kalina is a force to be reckoned with. Miller’s guitar mastery and their combined vocal harmonies produce an electric combination, which is exposed even more when performing a few songs as an acoustic duo without the band.
The fun back story of the two, whose chemistry is not only electric on stage, but off stage as well (they are a couple) is that they went to the same high school in Ladysmith but never knew each other because of their age difference. Kalina is 4 years older.
They had both been in the high school improv program in Ladysmith, and they continued performing and being involved with the artistic community in University, including Kalina going on to study theatre and dramatic arts. Their names became known to one another and through mutual friends had an opportunity to perform together. Their worlds collided and there was no looking back .
Although both had been musicians in their own right, it was not until they met that they gave each other the inspiration and support to write songs to perform together. It didn’t take long for them to decide on pursuing their music and to form a legitimate band. Over the past few years things have been moving at a steady pace, including being awarded a spot in the Top 12 of BC’s 2014 Peak Performance Project. During this time they also recorded their first EP, She Could Tell with producer, and fellow Peak alumni Cory Woodward. Since that experience they have only been growing stronger and faster, putting together a band that rounds out their evolving sound and fuses perfectly in terms of personalities touring across the country. Jarred Bolen on bass, Rory Koese on guitar and Eric Banerd on drums round out the band that not only rocked the stage like long-time pros, but gave us one of the best after show hangs in a long time (much of which is impossible to describe out of context, but these guys let loose and turned into a modern, yet much better looking, interpretation of the Three Stooges including half-naked wrestling matches, hilarious nickname reveals and drinking the oddest concoctions imaginable in one cup. I will not confirm that the star of much of the hilarity centered around one individual. Okay, his name starts with a J, but that is the only hint I am giving). Having heard descriptions of their collective personalities and observed them myself over the course of the night, Kalina’s reference to her and the rest of the band members sitting on a continuum of the anxiety spectrum was the most interesting, with one end being paranoid and organized (which has been extremely helpful to the band) to the other end being forever laid back and relaxed (equally as helpful). I will leave it open to ponder who lies where.
It is clear that although diverse, they have hit a sweet balance that allows everyone to play their part and contribute in ways that add to the greater good of the band’s well being. With a plan to record their full length debut album this Fall and Winter at Blue Light Studio in Vancouver with producer JP Maurice, the Wild Romantics are more fired up than ever for what their future holds.
With intense drive and a clear vision of who they are as people and who they want to be as performers, this band is ready to take on the world one show at a time.
Their six track debut EP She Could Tell is available now. From the tender, hypnotic folk ballad “India Lee,” to the up tempo, automatic sing-a-longs like “Who Ya’ Foolin’” and “A Monday in May,” it is an automatic go-to album. And from what we heard of their new material at the live show, their full length album is sure to be worth waiting for and then some.
The Wild Romantics performed at Serenity Performing Arts Centre on August 5, 2016. They are currently on tour across Western Canada. Visit www.thewildromantics.com for links to their EP, social media feeds, tour dates and more.
Photos courtesy of Shirley de Vooght.