It was a Sunday evening in January. I was cold, it was late, and the threat of work tomorrow was looming. It was exactly the kind of night I’d want to spend inside with my closest friends. Luckily The Hearts were playing in town.
If you’ve never been to the Artful Dodger in Regina, it feels a little like a living room. The stage, bathed in coloured light, faces a small area of tables and chairs that gives way to raked seating on large steps, with pillows for your comfort. A wood-fired oven crackles in the corner of the open food prep area and bar, and there are board games at the door for you to use as you please. It’s the right place to see a band like The Hearts. It’s as if I was invited over to a friend’s house, and I got there, and they just happened to be playing music in their living room. Good music too. The kind that is fresh and familiar all at once.
The Hearts are a six piece band from Edmonton, Alberta. They use synthy keyboards, thundering bass, punchy drums, and colourful guitar work to outline melodies that range from soaring and triumphant to pleading and plaintive. They move easily from deliberate rhythm section work and searing guitar licks to lightly swinging waltz grooves and singable choruses, creating a sound that is cohesive yet dynamic. There is no doubt that their songs belong together, but a carefully crafted setlist subtly displays the broad range of sounds they achieve within such a unified style.
The evening flowed easily, with lead singer Jeff Stuart speaking freely and openly to attentive listeners between songs. The banter was kind and informal, like he already knew all of us and was telling old stories that we might have already heard. The same went for the band, too. They interacted like old friends on stage, and when it came time to discuss their collective injury record for frisbee, they all got a chance to share part of the story. Suffice it to say that when this band plays frisbee, one of them gets hurt. That didn’t stop them from encouraging us to buy a 180 gram vinyl copy of their record “Equal Love” to throw around, but they regrettably declined any invitation to play.
I imagine 180 gram vinyl makes an okay frisbee, but I’d encourage you to buy the record to listen to instead. In particular, check out So Little Lonely, which sounds like a sassier Hot-Fuss-era Killers fronted by a Canadian Paul McCartney. You’re going to want to be ready for the handclaps next time The Hearts are in town. This is not a show to miss — you can be sure you’ll walk away having had an evening filled with a variety of music that feels comfortable and connected (but still holds surprises) from a band made up of people who were your friends before you met them.