There will always be room for storytellers in music. Names like Dylan, Marley, Springsteen and even Shakur and Mathers, carved their legacy by being musicians who were great storytellers first. Friday night’s Book on Tape Worm show at Velour, an occasion to mark the group’s reissue of their sold out 2012 album, All the World’s a Stage, spotlighted one of Provo’s very best in this area: the band’s frontman, Scott Shepard. Surrounded by a hundred or so friends, family and fans, with a more intimate set up for the venue, and backed by the hauntingly beautiful music coming from his band, Shepard was in his element and it showed.
Kalispell, Montana’s Flannel Graph opened Friday’s show and blew everyone away. I would describe their style as indie folk with a touch of soul, because of the range that vocalist Shayla Smith flashes from time to time. Most of the performance she stays in those standard indie levels, but every once in a while, she’ll wail and those moments separate them from similar acts. Most of their set featured songs from their EP Five Foot Three, released in November of last year, (an excellent release, by the way), but their best moments came from “Your Best Mistake,” a sweet song from their upcoming album, and their cover of Lorde’s “Royals,” a totally unique take on the song that had the crowd bobbing their heads.
After a tremendous performance from Flannel Graph that had people asking them to relocate to Provo, Book on Tape Worm was up next. What can I say about this performance? First off, I don’t think I have ever seen a band more adored by their fans. During their hour long or so set, there was hardly any movement from the crowd. Everyone was transfixed on the performance. The evening’s show felt like a “thank you” to those fans; it reminded me of VH1’s Storytellers. Between each song, Shepard would chat about the band, their travels, people who helped get them to this point (one of whom was Velour’s own Corey Fox), and random thoughts and musings. He’s a charming character.
What’s happening around Shepard is as important for Book on Tape Worm as what the frontman is doing. Where Shepard is the heart of the band, Ciera Black, on cello (and keys once—not keyboard, just like some house keys) is the spine. She holds the songs together, when there are no real beat or rhythm instruments to be found. The soul of the group is Catherine Papworth, on piano and some vocals. Shepard described her as a very positive person, which is apparent from the first time you see her. Then there is the oddity that is Gavin Ryan. I would pay just to watch this guy. He jumps back and forth between an array of strange instruments (glockenspiel, represent!), and when none of his odd instruments are needed, he just stands there, stoically, occasionally sipping a Coke. Fantastic.
The performance itself was breathtaking. They more or less played through their sold-out album, only slightly mixing up the order. They opened with “All The World’s A Stage,” the first time they have performed the song live. It’s a song made up of the opening of each of the album’s four acts. Aside from some of the funny, and at times heartfelt stories, the performance highlights included a medley of three songs (“Death of a Salesman,” “Architexts” and “Of Plans and Promises”) and maybe their most well known song, “Shadow Puppets.”
They closed the night with the haunting “Lights,” a song that doesn’t appear on All The World’s a Stage. It was an evening of brilliant music, which Velour made even better with the beautiful, intimate set-up they had, but it was the stories that were told, both in the music and between songs, that made the night memorable.