On the third song of the night Canadian indie popper Haley Blais is faux conducting her band through the mid-section of a song, by the mid-section of her set at Bristol’s Dareshack she is politely asking her attentive crowd to perk up a little bit. And it works.
Playing on a Monday night has got to be the toughest gig of the week. On the walk into the venue, the streets are quiet and not much is going on. It’s a good job then that in the venue itself there is a chatty vibe of some of Bristol’s more considerate gig goers. Haley’s audience is smartly dressed, well-behaved, and in thrall to her from the moment she enters the stage.
Opening act Sarah Crean does a great job of warming things up, despite her accurately self-described music: “this is another depressing song”. She rightly calls out the recorded version of ‘What Do I Know?’ as a rock song, definitely worth a listen and Sarah is one to look out for. She utilises the amazing sound of the Dareshack sound system brilliantly with just her voice and guitar cutting through the silence of the room with lovely clarity.
But we’re there to see Haley herself, and what a treat she was. Backed by a full band – and her boyfriend on merch duty – meant that the songs from her terrific recent album, Wisecrack, were fully brought to life. Album closer ‘Beginner’s guide to birdwatching’, which seems almost unrepeatable live, was played out with terrific vocal harmonies and a subtlety that you don’t often hear in live shows. Focused almost fully on her new songs, ‘Concrete‘ and ‘Matchmaker” were early highlights before the softness of ‘Baby Teeth’ added drama, and the repeated refrain of ‘Coolest Fucking Bitch In Town’ brought the house down with Haley encouraging crowd participation from the whole room. A magical moment in an excellent set.