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All photos on this blog are by Alex Cairncross – http://alexcairncrossphotographer.com
A lot of things can happen in university. You can walk away with a degree, a career path, and a place to start. Or sometimes you leave university with a killer rock and roll band. While training in classical music at Ottawa University, future couple Jacquie Neville and Liam Jaeger met in between concert etudes and ensemble practice. Though their passion for post-tonal theory and Brahms is a common thread, something else bound them together, and that something was their need to let loose on stage in the form of an incredibly high-energy pop band, taking their classically-trained backgrounds and throwing it all aside in exchange for soaked t-shirts, frantically dancing fans, and beer-stained van seats. It’s the kind of move your parents might not be proud of. Even worse for Papa Neville, the two lovers roped in kid brother Stephen Neville to play bass and hold his own beside sister Jacquie as co-lead-vocalist. Stephen manages to combat Jacquie’s powerful and astonishing vocal range with his dark Ian Curtis-like harmonies. All of a sudden they were set, Jacquie stage left leading with incredibly catchy guitar riffs, Stephen stage right, and Liam behind the two, banging it out behind so hard you’d think the venue was on fire.
One basement practice lead to another and it quickly became apparent that the Balconies (a moniker given to them by fellow Ottawa folk artist and friend Leif Vollebekk) had something special. Although having previously played in pivotal Ottawa acts, Liam a member of the now defunct For the Mathematics and Jacquie moonlighting in Jetplanes of Abraham, it was determined the trio had stumbled upon the sound and songs they had been trying so hard to write. It felt natural and comfortable, and their hometown of Ottawa was happy to embrace the new fam-jam collaboration.
Fast-forward to 2009: the Balconies release their debut album stuffed to the brim with adorable and painstakingly catchy pop rock and roll. They find themselves playing alongside the likes of Mother Mother, Dog Day, and Land of Talk, as well as being personally invited to play a number of festivals, including Ottawa Bluesfest, North by Northeast, Canadian Music Fest, and Pop Montreal. Before long, they grace the cover of Ottawa’s VOIR, win 3 categories in Ottawa Xpress’ Best of Ottawa 2009 poll, further establishing themselves as ringleaders in their hometown. They relocate to Toronto and top campus radio charts all across the country. One thing’s for sure, although their album is infectious as hell, it’s their ability to leave a lasting impression on any crowd they play to that have critics tripping over their lips. Jacquie, with her batting eyelashes and wide eyes smirking at boyfriend Jaeger, who’s soaked in his own sweat from playing so hard, and brother Stephen unassumingly spewing out tales of messy late nights and relationship faux-pas.
After breaking-in their new hometown of Toronto, the band will spend 2010 on the road, travelling our fair country until the highways end, bringing their unforgettable and honest sets to new stages.
They say university gives you a direction, peace of mind, and a place to start. And surely this is just the start of a very promising career for these three studious young artists. Anyone who says that a university degree is more credible than a Masters in feedback regulation or an Honours in late-night caffeine-fuelled driving probably never listened to The Balconies.
For any inquiries: sari(@)audioblood.com