June 30, 1996 – Molson Park in Barrie, Ontario – Edgefest. It was my first major concert festival and I had just recently graduated high school. Music had become very important in my life, yet I was still heavily enthralled with 3-chord rock bands. While my musical tastes had started to evolve, I still had firm ideas in my head about what good music entailed. I was still caught in the Nirvana vs. Pearl Jam debates. Going into the
day, I was stoked to be able to see Our Lady Peace because I loved the album Naveed. I was shocked that they weren’t the headliners. The Tea Party were headlining and I didn’t understand why. They were a Doors rip-off I’d been told and that was definitely not cool even though I didn’t really know the Doors music either. I wanted to go home after Our Lady Peace but my friend Kris said we needed to stay for this. From the moment the Tea Party went on-stage, music was different for me. It’s been 22 years since that concert and while I am never one for remembering exact details, I still remember the feelings of transformation that night. The set was a journey through the dark and the mystical. It was draining because the energy was so heavy. By the end of it I had a new favourite band and it wasn’t close.
At the time of Edgefest, the Tea Party were touring with their album, the Edges of Twilight, which was released in 1995. That album is my favourite of all time. Listening to this album loud on headphones or on good speakers is the musical version of listening in 3D. The sounds come at you in a multitude of directions tinged with Middle Eastern elements. I have always maintained that Jeff Martin is one of the best guitar players in rock music and Jeff Burrows is likely one of the best drummers and Stuart Chatwood was able to fill in the gaps in between with his talent on a variety of instruments. The album showcased their talents without being weighed down with technicality – just because you can do something musically that most can’t doesn’t mean you necessarily should (hello jazz music). The Tea Party managed to make a complex album that is highly listenable. While the whole album is a heavy journey, there are memorable moments where the intensity gets ramped up – the opening of Fire in the Head, the sitar solo on top of the crushing percussion in Sister Awake, the outro to Turn the Lamp Down Low, the slow build in Inanna, and the culmination with Walk With Me are just some of the stops along the way.
The Edges of Twilight has aged well – I can still listen to it and still get some of the goosebumps I got that night in Barrie.