Casey Mecija from Ohbijou

Ohbijou CD Release Party @ The Drake Underground

Let's talk about love and support.

A small-town girl in a small-town picks up a classy-lassy of a guitar, closes her door in her room and begins playing songs like Julie Doiron. It doesn't take long for her to attain a style that she can call her own. Eventually, she would put together something that she could make others say to themselves, something that they would repeat from the inside: "Laying in bed, in a fit of unbridled happiness, hitting me like an unexpected sneeze, I looked at you and said....ohbijou."

A few years pass, four friends and one sister added (all talented), a bunch of wonderful friends to boot, a sweet home in Parkdale on a wonderful (and inspirational) street, and a wonder-dog named Appleby all summed up to what would be one of the best CD release parties Toronto would witness (to-date) in 2006. Ohbijou released their premiere record entitled 'Swift Feet For Troubling Times' and decided to invite a lot of people including The Phonemes and The Acorn to help throw the shindig at The Drake Underground.

The doors for were for 9 O'clock, but for anyone who decided to play the "15 minutes late" game, they were S-O-L. Having played the game and expecting to win, I arrived at The Drake to a doorman constantly turning people away, being less apologetic each time. Yes - it was "sold out". Thankfully after a short while, I made my way in with the help of some people leaving and a swift Casey Mecija (lead of Ohbijou) getting me in.



When I had made it inside, The Drake Underground was packed - literally. You couldn't move. The Phonemes were half-way through their set. It looked like they had added a fourth member to their mini-troupe assisting on backing vox and the saw. The band played a few of their shaky, on-off tempo songs for the crowd. Lead by Magali Meagher, the band played under heavy Magenta lights and finished out their set on time (I'll go into depth about the lighting later).

While stunning visuals flashed on the backdrop during the switch-over of bands, The Acorn prepped and played a colourful, soothing and, at times, bouncy set. The band strew new-age Christmas lights across the stage and played with less Magenta but even less light. Period. The Acorn, fresh out of Ottawa, delighted old friends (apparently, the band said there were a lot of old high-school friends in the audience) and made a lot of new ones. Their sound is comforting and can take you on long trips without any bumps. If you haven't heard them, they recently played a CBC RADIO 3 live session. Click here to listen.

The band of the night, the crowd-attractors, the front-line rulers, Ohbijou took the stage. A loud roar erupted from as far back as the bar to the tip of the front of the stage. It's difficult to write about this band over and over again. New additions to this show included Mike Olsen (The Hidden Cameras), Andrew Kinoshita (Forest City Lovers), Leon Taheny (Germans / Bahai Cassette), and more. The set carried on with hooting and hollering from close friends shouting, "CASEY!!!" at the top of their lungs. Some songs required stomping, so people took beer bottles, pint glasses, or just their hands 'n feet and stomped on whatever they could. The band would chuck coloured eggs with mini-beads in them into the crowd for people to join along. The encore was a ukulele song by Casey that ended the performance portion of the show. The remaining part of the night was dedicated to dancing, drinking & signing a really funny guestbook courtesy of Ohbijou.

As for the record, I was fortunate enough to get a hold of it before Friday evening so I could over-play it as much as I could. 'Swift Feet' is simple and relaxed during the first couple of listens, but with effort and the right time (to listen to it), you'll find some wonderful tracks that will exercise comfort and the best feelings that you'll get out of a record. Certain tracks like 'The Other Side' and 'Favourite Skin' are ideal for what I'm talking about. They're great for those long trips down dark roads to far-off places, especially enjoyed with friends. 'Lamppost' is also a trip-track that has arms for holding 'n such. Swaying back and forth, the song is a flashback track reminding me of old times with old friends. The record ends with a solo piano track that Casey did solo entitled 'Tumbleweeds': a gorgeous way to end a gorgeous record.

Ohbijou started with Casey in her room in her town. Now, Ohbijou are in-flight through the dark nights, making friends with the starts and sharing pie with the moon, giving more than they are taking, and reminding any listener that the closest and most supportive people around you are definitely the most important.

(On a side-note, I want to apologize for the quality of the photos. The Drake had the ability to use decent lighting for the show, but instead it was almost pitch-dark on stage the majority of the night. It might have set the mood somewhat, but using Magenta lighting on The Phonemes was painful. That's my rant. Thank you.)

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