Ember Swift with Painting Daisies at Healey's, November 1. Tickets: $8. Attendance: 250. Rating: NNN
gigs were chaotically scrambled last week due to the sudden closure of Ted's, but an all-female lineup found a cozy nest at Healey's. For the most part, the crowd was revved for Ember Swift, but many found pre-headline pleasure with Edmonton's Painting Daisies. Their set was primarly made up of songs from their second album, Fortissimo, ranging in style from 80s rock and folk to blues and country riffs.
Rachelle Van Zanten (vocals/guitars) wowed the crowd with her guitar technique, but her Alanis Morissette singing style disappointed.
The saving grace in that department was Daisy Blue Groff's voice, a much more suitable vehicle for their music. She also enhanced the awe factor with her banjo hoedowns.
Groff and drummer Kim Gryba are easy, comfortable performers, able to let loose in a way that Van Zanten and bassist Carolyn Fortowsky can't. Fortowsky's absolute stiffness was actually quite off-putting. At times she looked like she was in physical pain.
But their talent could not be denied. The whole evening probably offered more of that than every Edgefest put together, but the songs themselves were weak. The Daisies would get you into a serious groove and then, not knowing which way to go, let you down hard and unsatisfied. They seem to lack confidence about what sound or vibe they want to convey.
Ember Swift knows exactly what she wants to do -- be Ani DiFranco, which was disappointing since she and her band perform with phenomenal skill and would be amazing if they had an original sound.
But the crowd dug it.