Rifflandia: AroarA


AroarA was the band I was most excited to see during Rifflandia. Having only heard a few demos and a quick listen to their debut album "The Pines."

I'm very fond of Broken Social Scene, their side projects, and their record label Arts & Crafts. There is little doubt in my mind when it comes to trying out new things from them. Andrew Whiteman in particular because of the role Apostle of Hustle's records have played in my life. 

About six years ago I picked up Apostle of Hustle's record National Anthem of Nowhere while backpacking across Europe for a few months. As my trip was winding down and I was running out of time and money I found myself on a ferry from The Netherlands to England laying on the exposed car deck. Listening to this record for the very first time. As I stared out at the strait that separated me from one of the best adventures of my life the song "National Anthem of Nowhere" came on. That moment is permanently etched into my memory. A fixed point in time. 

My friend Jay hipped me to Andrew Whiteman's latest project with his wife Ariel Engle about eight months ago. He passed on some demos or live recordings that really excited me about the prospect of seeing AroarA live sometime in the future. Luckily enough they got added to the bill of Rifflandia in July.

I snuck in slightly exhausted from a day of shooting the main stage at Royal Athletic Park, and slumped against the wall. I fought off sleep during two very good bands, but they weren't what I was here to see. 

When AroarA took the stage their set up was small. A pair of guitars, a drum machine, a sampler, and what looked to be a guitar made from a cigar box played through out the show by Ariel Engle. A tuning peg on Andrew Whiteman's guitar had broken off on the flight from Montreal to Victoria. Frequently he'd reach over for a pair of needle-nose pliers to twist his strings into tune. 

AroarA's performance was liquid. It seemed almost choreographed. The couple moved in unison only communicating in unspoken words, glances, and telepathy. A beautiful thing that comes with trust and love of a companion I'm sure. 

Since the festival ended I've heard from several people who were in the small audience at Metro Theatre for the performance that it was one of their favourite parts of the festival. I'd certainly say it was one of mine. They benefited from the intimacy of the small venue and the theatre atmosphere.

After their set I had a chance to talk to them for a few moments after they cleared up their gear. Ariel and Andrew are wonderfully gracious people. Very sweet and seemed genuinely excited to connect with a fan. They were nice enough to let me take a portrait of them with my Ilford disposable black & white camera. I'm going to go on record to say it's my favourite photograph I took of the festival. 

I highly recommend you check out their latest record, and see them if you get the chance. You won't regret it.