Great Lake Swimmers live in New York
- Jun 07, 2012
The entertainment strip in downtown Manhattan boasts a certain type of wild life, more high heels and heady club beats than trees and animals of the natural world. But Canadian folk rock band Great Lake Swimmers brought their own traditional sort of wilderness to the stage at the Bowery Ballroom.
“I grew up working in the fields,” frontman Tony Dekker said on a break from soundcheck before the show. He joked his hometown had “more cattle than humans”. This influence, more subtle than self-aware, has given Great Lake Swimmers a distinct feel and presence in front of their crowds.
Back from three weeks touring in Europe, Dekker said the response has been inspiring. "We have pockets of fans," Dekker said. "Although our audience isnt super huge, it's pretty dedicated." On Wednesday, the dedicated seemed to be out in force as Great Lake Swimmers filled the Bowery Ballroom with what the singer/songwriter refers to as their mixture of “jangly pop”, folk rock, and country.
While Great Lake Swimmers began as a solo project for Dekker more than a decade ago, he’s finally settled on a permanent lineup. Fiddle (Miranda Mulholland), standup bass (Bret Higgins) and banjo (Erik Arnesen) accompanied Dekker’s smooth balladeering: everything you’d expect from a band conscious of their folk roots.
In his brown plaid shirt, skinny jeans, with an overgrown beard and his curly hair swept aside his forehead, Dekker strikes a balance between rural, small-town escapee and ironic hipster. Reserved in interview, Dekker loosens on stage, smirking playfully with his bandmates in front of a dense sea of upturned faces, swaying to the rhythm of the music.
Great Lake Swimmers laid out a steady lineup almost entirely of songs from their latest album 'New Wild Everything', released in April. The group’s fifth album, it boasts some earthy melodies. 'Ballad of A Fisherman’s Wife' is a lamentation on the BP oil spill and titles a selection of tracks include the words “water,” “cornflower,” “fields,” “wind”. Each track got one more run through at the Bowery - the second to last stop on their tour before heading home to Toronto.
“I’m going to collapse like a pile of laundry,” said Dekker of their homegoing. Great Lake Swimmers played their final (and biggest) show of the tour in Toronto last Saturday. But they're due to be back touring North America in a couple weeks.
By Erin Cauchi and Adam McCauley
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