On Air

The Zolas Return to The Casbah

Blog/MusicNovember 9th 2017
Rachel Connell

It would appear every time you hear the Zolas are coming to Hamilton, the next natural reaction would be to get online and buy your tickets the day they go on sale. As any avid fan knows, they always sell out. Last night was no different for the Vancouver 4 piece as they hit the familiar stage for another packed set at one of Hamilton’s top venues, the Casbah.

The Casbah has charm for a show of this nature that can’t really be explained until you experience it for yourself. With a short step up to the stage, and a wide smokey room, there’s a level of intimacy that can’t be beat. A bold opening with “Why Do I Wait (When I Know You Got a Lover)” triggered a dancey crowd of young people to cheer and participate as if it were a mutual conversation throughout the night. With coo’s of song-requests, and frontman Zachary Gray responding accordingly, this show was anything but perfect; and I think that’s what made it so special.


He avidly admits to some of the struggles with perfecting big venue shows and how much it meant to them to be able to relax and feed off the energy of the room. Their flexibility and comfortable attitude complemented the many parts of live music when things can - and will - go wrong. A low pitched guitar pedal when it’s supposed to go high, a falling mic stand, an untuned guitar and some unsuccessful crowd silencing are all aspects of the show that prove the band’s authenticity and polished off the set with ease and vulnerability.

A unique re-working of My Heart’s Always Yours into played homage to the Hamilton superstars, Arkells in a way that was almost unobvious. They blended the lyrics and high sung melodies in so seamlessly, it made you stop and pause for a minute to think “wait - are they… THEY ARE.”

Jay Jillard of Jillard Guitars caught some incredible footage of the night with a particular image painted by cell phone lights that really helps you feel like you were there. The Zolas in many ways feel like a local band, as if they grew up here themselves, and their energy contagiously brings eager ears to the Casbah every time they visit. With smooth keys, well-positioned synths and a stage presence that feels like second nature, we were lucky to have them back to fill the room for another night.

Featured image and video credit to Jay Jillard.