Skye Wallace stormed onto the stage at East Vancouver’s stalwart Wise Hall on Tuesday evening a little after 10pm. Her three bandmates, guitarist Jasper Sloan Yip, bassist Wynston Mickler, and drummer Niko Friesen, followed suit. With the confidence of a countess, she tossed the strap of her guitar over her shoulder and dove into her set with “Suffering For You”, a grunge-laced track from her recently released self-titled album.
Supporting act BB did a great job warming things up. Clad in matching all white baby doll dresses and knee-high boots, the pair of lead vocalists delivered some hard-hitting jams with light-hearted enthusiasm with the help of their intrepid percussionist. They were clearly having a lot of fun on stage, and it definitely set a good tone for Skye Wallace to do her thing.
There is something almost enigmatic about the red-haired, folk-punk, guitar slaying singer-songwriter. She is a little mysterious, a little rebellious, and wickedly enchanting. And by that, I mean there are times when we get a glimpse of a kind of cool, calculating genius alter ego lurking behind an otherwise cherubic persona.
In my humble opinion, Wallace is poised to join the charge of young women led by the likes of Billie Eilish, Halsey, Jade Bird and Maggie Rogers. By all accounts these ladies are kicking some serious ass in the music world at a time when pop culture is granting young female icons a substantial stage on which to sing.
I first heard Skye Wallace during her workshop with Wallis Bird at last year’s Vancouver Folk Festival. It was an acoustic affair that showcased her fabulously jagged folk-rock vibe. Since then, she has steered her music into the realm of punk and garage rock at full throttle.
Initially I was heart-broken that she was essentially leaving the folk sound behind, but it’s clear that Wallace has enough talent to stand out in either genre. The former BC resident is a classically trained vocal powerhouse who knows how to use her voice to its fullest potential. Sometimes it cuts clear as a knife through a chorus and sometimes it rips the apart the edges of the cacophony.
To say that Wallace has grown since last year is an understatement. It’s more like she’s undergone a revolution that only an artist with real staying power can pull off successfully. I loved seeing her let loose on the guitar and jam with her band mates. Her set was full of tracks from the new album, but there were some older tunes like “Stronghold” that found their way into the mix and blended right in with recent releases like “Death of Me” and “Coal in Your Window”, the playfully punk number she closed her set with.
The first song of her encore was a solo effort that included an affectionate introduction to what was almost her first real love song. Turns out the romance wasn’t meant to be, and Wallace is reworking the last verses.
“Don’t worry about me” she laughed while tuning her guitar. “I’m fine”.
For me, the currently unnamed song was a highlight. After that, Wallace brought back her bandmates and dialed it all the back way up and then some, closing the night with a spirited performance of “Blood Moon.” Before leaving the stage for good, she gave her fans a big thank you for showing up on a Tuesday night, suggesting they “make Tuesday concerts a thing!”
Maybe they should. But if you ask me, there’s a good chance she’ll be selling out Saturday’s soon enough.