by Melanie Macpherson (article and photos)
It was a warm May evening in 2022. The pandemic was over-ish, and my husband and I were headed to our first real show in over two years. Not knowing either of the opening bands, we showed up fashionably late… and realized our mistake before we even got in the building. A frenzied bassline and the hint of some sultry vocals filled the street, and it didn’t take more than one meaningful look, before we were hurrying up the stairs.
We fought our way through the crowd to a spot where we could almost see the band; just glimpses, really, through the sea of tall people. The music was rich and melodic, with a driving bassline that was both funky, grungy and just a little hypnotic. The biggest surprise, though, was the vocals. The gravelly complexity and a polished edginess had my brain itching with thoughts of Grace Slick and Janis Joplin. I had to look at my tickets just to figure out that the band in question was The Radiant, made up of Mikhaila Anderson (vocals/guitar), Paul Hillacre (guitar), Evan Knouse (bass), MIke Reece (keys/saxophone), Jordan Ahmed (Drums). We found out that they were playing again in a couple weeks and bought our tickets that night. We saw The Radiant play another six times (including one impromptu Regina road trip), and their live shows just kept getting better.
Fast forward to this past Saturday, February 4th, and we were headed to our eighth show in less than 9 months. The Radiant threw a party at Amigo’s Cantina to celebrate the release of their second EP Logical Steps. The Northern Royals, a rock band out of Winnipeg, got the night started with a high energy, crowd-pleasing performance. The Department Heads continued to build the atmosphere with a set full of powerhouse vocals and mesmerizing riffs.
Finally, it came time for The Radiant to take the stage. The crowd was primed and ready; a little rowdy even. They played all of the songs from the EP, along with all the old favourites and even a Nine Inch Nails cover. The highlight of the night for me was during “Tentative” where Mikhaila’s singing pauses, sound frozen for a moment in time before she lets loose in a frantic explosion of raw vocals, flashing lights and that wall of sound I keep hearing about.
Mikhaila had the crowd eating out of her hand and by the time “Semi-Climactic” came up, the crowd was ready. I’ll be honest, I got a little choked up hearing a room full of people singing along to the song I had repeatedly requested on the radio, hoping that somebody out there would hear it and love it as much as I do. In less than nine months, The Radiant’s on stage performance had gone from “They’re really good for a local band” to “Wow, that was one hell of a show!”
I talked to Mikhaila the day after the show and asked her how she felt about the album release. “This album is close to my heart. It's our next stage of growth as a group, and really highlighted the different faces of The Radiant and what inspires us. Saskatoon really showed up for the EP release. We love seeing our audience grow. I feel we had a full house of familiar faces, but even more new ones! We felt the love loud and clear, and can't wait to push what we do further to keep ‘em coming!”
Their next performance will be in Edmonton March 18th at The Aviary and they are planning to start playing across Canada and ultimately the world. They also have a music video for "Smooth Parts" in production, and scheduled to release on March 11.
As for the EP, Logical Steps has four songs - “Clear" and “9 AM", both previously released as singles, along with two brand new tracks, “Body Break" and “Smooth Parts". “Clear”, a hypnotically haunting trip, beautifully melds Paul’s heady riffs, Evan’s driving bass, Mike’s psychedelic synth, Mikhaila’s sultry voice and a tumbling, trippy beat courtesy of Jordan.
“9 AM”, like a sucker dropped in the dirt, combines a sweet pop heavy melody with a gut wrenching grittiness to create a genuine anthem to living life on your own terms. “Body Break” is moody and introspective and beautifully paints a picture of being lost in your own life. And “Smooth Parts”? I’m not even sure how to describe it, but it’s fun and energetic and if you can listen to it without bobbing your head or outright breaking into dance, then I don’t think we can be friends. Saxy Mike is my favourite kind of Mike, and he takes “Smooth Parts” to a whole other level with a wailing sax solo that will melt the pants right off you. Overall, the EP is definitely a “logical step” in the right direction for The Radiant.