LADYHAWK and JULIE DOIRON and SLOW LEARNERS as part of MATTYFEST at Parts and Labour, Friday, February 10. Rating: NNNN
All's been quiet on the Ladyhawk front since the Vancouver rockers released Shots in 2008 on Jagjaguwar. A 2010 solo album by frontman Duffy Driediger, meanwhile, did little to dispel worries that the band was over (nor does the fact that Jagjaguwar's website currently lists them as "alumni" rather than "active" artists).
But the beloved four-piece emerged from hibernation for the second of a three-night stint at Parts and Labour in celebration of head chef Matty Matheson's birthday (hence the evening's name, Mattyfest). The crowd couldn't get enough, singing along, crowd-surfing, spraying beer, enthusiastically punching the venue's low ceiling.
Ladyhawk's strong melodic sense offers enough buoyancy for a party-band vibe, while their warm, vintage tones hint at classic rock and Americana but never quite become either of those things. Best, Driediger introduced one song as a new one from the album they're currently recording, which "should be out in a year... or two."
Slow Learners (who switched nights with Marine Dreams) and Julie Doiron played earlier in the night. Eamon McGrath and two members of Cancer Bats joined the latter, helping Doiron achieve unprecedented levels of grit, raucousness and looseness. Her singing had an unhinged quality. Those of us who remember the singer/songwriter's painfully timid Broken Girl days couldn't help but note her transformation.