Heroes of Toolik at the Mercury Lounge
Whether it’s a pin drop on the map of a touring musician or an impromptu night of discovery for those passing by, there’s something about the Mercury Lounge that is uniquely intimate and inviting, making it an ideal venue for lesser-known or experimental artists like Heroes of Toolik to showcase their passion.
As the five band members assembled on stage, the presence of brass and string instruments was promising. As a fan of jazz and folk music, the likelihood of some genre blending and experimentation was especially exciting and apparent from the start. Before playing, the band took the opportunity to express their appreciation to the crowd, thanking them both for stopping in to check them out and sticking around after the previous band’s performance.
Although socially gracious, Heroes of Toolik started off musically lost – lost to their own sounds and the sounds of one another – and there was very little indication that the members were, either literally or figuratively, following the same percussive beat. It seemed as though each musician was a one-man band, bouncing drastically different sounds off the walls of the same room. For the first ten minutes of the show, not much was taking shape for Heroes of Toolik in terms of identifiable genres or stylistic intention, but after settling in under the lights and before their audience, they gained some momentum, becoming more in tune with each other as well as with their respective instruments.
What initially seemed like a lawlessly imploding instrumental assault began to undergo an improved and necessary progression, becoming less chaotic and more intentional by design (albeit a slightly flawed one). However, as the instrumentals steadied, the vocals (which alternated between the band’s guitarist, Arad Evans and violinist, Jennifer Coates) became particularly combative, with Evans’ southern bluegrass style conflicting with that of Coates’ demure and, overall, peculiar one.
Although their artistic ambition is admirable, Heroes of Toolik would be a much stronger group if they could tighten their creative focus, identify their individual strengths and tailor them into a more harmonious sound as an alternative collective.
Photos: Ken Arcara
For further information about Heroes of Toolik and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Aquarium School here: