After a three-year hiatus, indie band Hey Ocean! is back with charisma, chemistry, and a whole lot of new music. The Vancouver-based group played at Rum Runners on Tuesday night, drawing a crowd to the intimate concert venue within London Music Hall. 

Although the band takes on a detached synthpop sound in the studio, their live sounds veered closer to the warm and emotive tones of jazz and folk music. Each of the band’s three core members — Ashleigh Ball, David Beckingham and David Vertesi — brought a unique element to their performance, resulting in a concert that was equally dynamic and engaging. Ball’s powerful vocals harmonized with both Vertesi and Beckingham to add warmth to each song, and instrumental breaks featured her flute solos backed by high-energy bass and guitar. 

Prompted by audio equipment failure, Hey Ocean! played acoustic versions of two of their songs. 

The band’s incredible chemistry made it hard to tell that the concert was part of their first tour together in roughly three years. Though the band has been releasing music together for over a decade, having formed in 2005, they took a break in 2014 to work independently. Beckingham explained that after releasing three albums and touring for nine years, time apart felt necessary.  

“It came time to make our fourth record, and we just didn’t have anything in us to give. We didn’t have any juice left,” he said. “It got to the point where we decided breaking up was the best move.”

Rather than ignoring their breakup, Hey Ocean! is using this tour as an opportunity to embrace it. The London concert was divided into two hour-long sets, allowing the band to play over a decade’s worth of their music as well as songs from each member’s solo-record, which were written during their time apart.  

“People have been asking us where we’ve been. The three of us have actually released our own solo records,” Vertesi told the crowd. “So the missing Hey Ocean! record is really like a triple disc. We thought this tour would be a really cool opportunity to share some of that music with you guys.” 

The combination of older music, newer sounds, and independent songs made for a unique and danceable concert. The crowd sang along to some of the Hey Ocean!’s hits like "If I Were a Ship" and listened attentively as the band premiered music from their newest album, The Hurt of Happiness, which is set to be released early 2018.

This isn’t the first time that Hey Ocean! has performed in London. They performed at Call the Office prior to breaking up.

“London’s been fun,” Beckingham stated. “At the end of the day it’s the crowd, the vibe, the audience that really makes it.”

As the concert drew to an end, the band promised that this wouldn’t be their last time performing in the city. They ended off on a warm note, performing two songs during their encore and thanking the audience for their continued support. 

“Thank you for singing along and for smiling along tonight,” Ball said to the crowd. “Thank you for remembering us.”

With files from Nick Sokic. 

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Gabrielle is the opinions editor for Volume 112. Pitch an article at gabrielle.drolet@westerngazette.ca, and find her on Twitter @GabrielleDrolet.

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