Viva Voce in Toronto

Article and Image Published w/Harp Magazine

The Docks
Toronto, Ontario Canada
November 1, 2007
by April S. Engram

I am continually astounded by Portland duo Viva Voce. Kevin Robinson behind the drums working multiple instruments at once, continually breaking his drum sticks, while Anita Robinson shreds her guitar making spectators gawk in awe — they know how to put on a solid rock show. Only catching Viva Voce on stage once before, I was itching to witness their talent again; unfortunately, the duo skipped over my little town, so when they announced on their website that their current monthlong stint would be the “final” tour of 2007 and beckoned fans “come on out if you can,” I pounced. Yes, I had to drive three hours from Rochester; indeed, I had to fight my way through three check points to prove I was on the guest list; and sure, I was banned from using my advanced camera. Furthermore, unlike my last run in with the Voce’s, I didn’t even have the opportunity to chill with them and have a chat. Was it worth all of these roadblocks to see Viva Voce live once again? Insert confirmatory expletive here!

Opening for Jimmy Eat World, perhaps not the best musical match up stylistically, Viva Voce claimed the stage for one hour. With not much time to spare, the Voce’s made a quick introduction and leapt into “Fashionable Lonely” from their new double album combining their 2003 release Lovers, Lead the Way and their 2004 LP The Heat Can Melt Your Brain. True to my expectations, Kevin and Anita sounded great live, and by the end of their set established new fans within the Jimmy Eat World audience. I observed wide eyed onlookers amazed at the range of noise coming from only two people; quite similar to my first experience upon seeing the duo perform. A young observer next to me expressed her admiration for Kevin’s skill of playing the drums, synth and guitar while singing. When her friend pointed out that the talented drummer also played the harmonica, she turned and asked in disbelief, “He played a harmonica?!” Kevin was pulling out instruments so fast she lost track.

The Voce’s short set mostly included songs from their third album Get Yr Blood Sucked Out, a great record which includes a lot of my favorite Voce songs. Although they did not have the opportunity to perform many of Blood’s songs, the evening’s show stopper was easily the 9 minute long track “So Many Miles.” Within this number Anita’s guitar wails for a long solo as the audience watches her hands fly about producing loud psychedelic sounds. Kevin and Anita closed the set with the rollercoaster of a song “Alive with Pleasure” which opens and ends with buzzed out guitar riffs and catchy drumming, while the center of the song is quiet, sweet and slower in tempo.

Though The Docks lacked the personable flair of smaller bars/clubs I usually frequent, and there was a questionable gentleman selling questionable materials in the men’s room, the Voce’s performance was outstanding and made me forget the negative aspects of the venue. Will I visit The Docks again? No. But will I journey to see Viva Voce on stage once more? Of course. Viva La Voce’s!

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