Soulful songs and twangy tunes at Sugar

Culture Music
Katie Weaver(photo)

I glanced behind me several times for the first couple hours of the night. This guy looked familiar, but I couldn’t pin my finger on why that was. That bright white skin, the dark handlebar mustache—I couldn’t help but stare at the tall, swaying man behind me.

It was about 10:30 p.m. when I leaned my chest against the front-row rail, hands outstretched. Boy & Bear’s founder and lead vocalist, Dave Hosking, stood centre stage, and then I knew. It had only been about 20 minutes ago that I could have sworn he was enjoying the opening act behind me.

The night’s opening band, Reuben and The Dark (RATD), holds a unique place in my heart. I am from Yellowknife, and so is RATD’s vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Shea Alain. Whenever the rare chance arrives that they come to Yellowknife to play in our music festival, the crowd chants, “Shea! Shea! Shea!” My friend that accompanied me to their show at Sugar Nightclub on Oct. 28 has now seen RATD seven times—we like to back up our fellow Yellowknifers.

Not without reason, though. Reuben Bullock’s chiseled-by-God eyes peer over the crowd as he sings his soulful but eerie songs. Every person in the venue stares up at him—moving in slo-mo as he strums his guitar—hoping to catch his gaze. Bullock is accompanied by his fiancée (and Lana Del Rey lookalike) Kaelen Ohm, his brother (with perfect percussionist name) Distance Bullock, as well as Dillon Whitfield, Shea Alain, and Brock Geiger (also a bassist for The Dudes). Every member plays various instruments, so they exchange positions throughout their set.

“Marionette” was one of their last songs. Bullock sang, “Oh, I know my sins and sorrows,” and the crowd repeated after him, gospel style. “But I will tend my wounds tomorrow,” and we repeated. He was our preaching pastor and we were his choir. In those moments, the entire room was connected.

Soon enough, it was time for Boy & Bear to take the stage. At this point, Sugar was packed and pushing with people eager to see the Australian band. They started their first song with confidence; beside me were five girls wearing Boy & Bear toques and surrounding me was a sea of lyrics being sung along with Hosking. Although they are city boys, the musical group has a country twang to their songs thanks to banjo player Jonathan Hart. It’s just enough twang to bop your knees to the beat, but has enough indie, melodic “ooh’s” to sway your arms to the rhythm.

Their highlight of the night was “Southern Sun” from their new album Harlequin Dream.  It has great lyrics to sing if you can’t really sing and short but sweet guitar riffs plucked by Killian Gavin. It’s reminiscent of a Clint Eastwood sing-a-long. The entire crowd sang and moved like nobody was watching—that sweet, rich moment when every person in the room is riding along with every note of the song.

Afterwards, Whitfield from Reuben And The Dark came out to see my friend, whom he recognized easily, considering she had been in the front row more than any other fan. He shook our hands and introduced himself like we didn’t already know exactly who he was. There were also selfies taken with Hosking of Boy & Bear. And, to plop the cherry on top, these down-to-earth dudes walked right over to Big Bad John’s for some genuine fan-time—and beer-time. No complaints over here.