In pro-wrestling, there is something called “ring psychology”. What this means is, that the performers in the ring use body language, actions (or in some cases, lack of action), expressions and nuances to make the audience respond accordingly. They feel the story being expressed by these series of events and they are driven to feel a certain kind of emotion. They are either intrigued to cheer for a wrestler or they are moved to boo a wrestler.
In music, there is a similar psychology. Booking your band appropriately – be it venue or timing – is crucial in creating a proper “buzz” or interest in a return appearance from the audience. If you play the wrong venue too early, you will ostracize yourself. If you play too often, you run the risk of being considered a house band, where the music is secondary to the experience of actually being at the show, which often leads to people eventually leaving your shows to check out something either a) newer, or b) less over-exposed.
Kevin Buckridan, the dark mind behind the Windsor quartet Two for the Cascade, is all to familiar with this music psychology. Two for the Cascade are one of the city’s finest bands, fielding invites to countless local festivals, opening for many nationally respected touring acts, and cast with some of the scene’s most beloved and respected performers, yet their annual resume of gigs is usually far less than what some bands in the scene play in a month.
You see, Kevin comes from a school of thought that art is created by a passion within the artist. It is driven by an uncontrollable desire to release something from within – be it painting, music or what have you – because it needs to be released before you can move on to your next endeavour. It is a sentence that must be said aloud before you can begin the next paragraph. His music (which is sometimes co-written with his wife and co-vocalist/electronics manipulator Stefanie Zaccagnini or, on brief occasions by Theramin/multi-instrumentalist Holly Brush) is a dark revelation of himself and it is written more to exorcise than to appease any audience in general. He doesn’t feel the need to play four times a month to ingrain their hits into people’s minds or play gigs simply to hob knob with the Canadian indie band of the moment. These songs are real, the effort is intended and the result is a calculated risk that he is only open to doing on his own terms.
And luckily he has the perfect cast to compliment what many may consider a rather dark outlook. For one, his wife appears to be the exact opposite of him, but in the most complimentary way possible. She is the Angel to his Beelzebub, the Yin to his Yang, the perpetual smile to his eternal grimace. When the two sing separately, one can hardly imagine what kind of tragic aural devastation may occur if the two should collide – sort of like a vocal version of crossing the streams. It’s real bad, Ray. But when they do intertwine, it becomes something hauntingly beautiful. Like the voice of a dead lover trying to raise the spirits of the deflated one left behind. I’m not sure if Stefanie’s silky voice coaxes Kevin’s devilish snarl to embrace something a little more golden, or Kevin’s darkness offers Stefanie’s light a more reasonable option hovering in the greys, but whatever it is, it is captivating and entrancing. The songs are simple songs of painful devotion – almost begging to ask why someone like her would want to lower herself to someone like him, as she tells him the answer is simple. Because they are quite simply, in love. It is a true musical case of Beauty and the Beast.
The other two members of the band offer a similar counter-balance to the dynamic of the two frontpersons of the band. Holly Brush, one of the city’s only active Theramin performers, is almost reactive of Buckridan’s psyche. It rises and falls like an cacophonous orchestra of sound – part whale music, part neurotic breakdown – accentuating the feral movements of Buckridan on stage. Meanwhile, behind the drum kit, veteran musician George Manury (who has performed in such Windsor favourites as Ten Indians, Magic Hall of Mirrors, and itzjunk, as well as an on-going solo career) plays his set with the precision and grace of Stefanie’s voice. His movements are flawless, his sticks moving as if by themselves. The expression on his face is like that of a child listening to a life changing record for the first time, smiling and grimacing as sounds fluctuate around him on its virgin voyage.
Buckridan is not one to let any diagram roll on with any sense of predictability, which is why he also employs multiple musical applications from his iPhone (something he’s been doing for years now, long before it became indie rock standard), a myriad of pedals and several guitars, and why Stefanie has also been known to work the dials on Moogs or use any number of percussive instruments gathered from trips to other countries.
This Friday, Two for the Cascade return to the Windsor stage with a special show at The FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, main level), with two rising stars of the local scene. The Swillingtones is a new act featuring some established local musicians (as featured in a prior Emerging Artist piece here), who have been winning over crowds quickly with their original late ’60s/early ’70s soul sounds mixed in with some fantastic reggae covers to create an energizing vibe.
And opening the show is the disturbingly captivating voice of Zarasutra, a brilliant young songwriter who is barely old enough to play in the bars she infrequents. Another recent focus of an Emerging Artist article, she only gets better with each passing show and her future is definitely one that should include music as its staple.
Two for the Cascade is a band that doesn’t simply create music, they create atmosphere. They create an aura. And they will work that aura like Poseidon worked the sea. Sometimes the waves will be calm and gentle, sometimes they will be fun to frolic in, and sometimes the skies will turn dark and they will try to crush your chest and rip out your heart.
Two for the Cascade with special guests The Swillingtones and Zarasutra, Friday June 10, The FM Lounge (156 Chatham St. West, main level), 9pm