Arts & CultureCampus & City

Show Review: Leaf Rapids leaves an unforgettable mark in Edmonton

The band from Winnipeg's tour stop at The Aviary proved that they, along with their new album "Velvet Paintings," are destined for greatness.

When listening to Leaf Rapids, you can sometimes hear the musicality of Fleetwood Mac, with nods to Elvis Presley and other rock and roll greats, all while picturing Peach Pit in another generation. Although the roots americana band from Winnipeg can be compared to many, very few can be compared to it.

On April 24, Leaf Rapids’ tour-stop at The Aviary entranced and moved those listening. Lead singer Keri Latimer‘s quips on the side only added to her powerful stage presence. Although there were many in the crowd, it felt like she was talking only to you. Her infectious smile dismayed any distractions from the stage.

Joanna Miller on the drums is a force to be reckoned with. Paired with a rare, smooth alto-voice that few can achieve, Miller shone bright on the stage. Bass guitarist Devin Latimer supported the group with powerful walking bass lines that couldn’t go unnoticed. Finally, Chris Dunn on the electric guitar made everybody whoop and holler. His effortless approach to solos that require the talent of the greats awed the room.

The show began with the title track from the group’s new album, Velvet Paintings. Keri’s voice — which resembles a more whimsical Dolly Parton — backed by Miller’s soothing harmonies, comforted the room. Despite the rather unhappy lyrics critiquing capitalism and the chains it has on normal folks, Devin’s driving bass and Dunn’s teasing on the guitar encouraged everyone to smile and sway along.

If some listeners remained unconvinced that Velvet Paintings is fame-worthy, “Starling to a Starling” was bound to convince them. It’s “about being connected,” Keri prefaced, before diving into an ethereal set of vocals. The song’s nostalgic feel captivated the room’s attention and comfortably lingered in the air, only to be disrupted by the addicting groove in “Trepidatious Celebrations.” Dunn’s killer solo and the feeling of the bass in the floor culminated in a sensory flood that ended too soon.

The lively and celebratory atmosphere remained with fun and upbeat “Fast Romantics.” Both guitars shone and worked together, building up to Dunn’s greatest solo — a highlight of the show. Dunn made one of the most impressive guitar solos I’ve ever heard look like the easiest thing in the world. Miller’s groove was contagious, and it spread like wildfire on and off the stage.

The show moved on from fun jives with a spooky and hypnotizing performance of “Vulture Lullaby” from their 2015 album, Lucky Stars. The aura lingered into a performance of Keri’s favourite song from the new album, “Night Shift,” which was written by Miller. Having Miller on the lead vocals was refreshing, further proving she’s the group’s not-so-secret weapon. The relatable anthem, which quickly became an audience favourite, was only perfected by Miller’s fascinating bird-like whistling.

The band subsequently performed “Silver Fillings,” a song about “dentistry and world peace,” Keri explained. It was hard not to notice how synced each member was with one another, which is perhaps the band’s greatest asset.

A highlight from the show is Keri’s use of the theremin. The electronic instrument is controlled without being touched — as if continuously casting a spell. The theremin only added to the magical and whimsical atmosphere of “In the Woods.” The band took the audience on a haunting trip through an ethereal forest, suspending the moment in time with the lingering theremin. Keri and Miller’s angelic voices, the folk guitar, and the distant echoes made for an unforgettable live performance.

After a playful performance of their 2019 song “Virginia,” and a refreshing cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World,” the band electrically ended the show with “Insomniac Show.” The song showcased the elements that make Leaf Rapids the one-of-a-kind band that it is. From Miller’s whistles to Dunn’s delectable guitar licks, the laughter and energy created on stage transformed the room. At the show’s end, an eruption of cheer brought the band back for a special encore.

Once the band left, the crowd continued to linger, hoping that they’d come back. The Leaf Rapids’ local tour-stop will likely become a distant memory for them when they become a household staple. But their unique energy and addicting tunes are bound to be unforgettable for anyone who listens.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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