Friday, November 28, 2008

The Acorn, Ohbijou, The Rural Alberta Advantage @ Lee's Palace.

Yes! The Acorn was amazing. I've been listening to their records over the past months, and have really gotten into this band, especially the latest album, "Glory Hope Mountain." I wasn't sure how they would translate on the big stage---would it be just like the record, or better somehow? Answer: Better! Like other quieter kinda folky groups, Ottawa band the Acorn brought things up a few notches last night, rocking out and turning every song into a celebration. Seriously, I'm impressed. What a great experience. The band members looked and sounded like they were having a fantastic time, interacting with the crowd and each other between songs---are these guys dorks or what? haha---and seemed truly thrilled to be playing to a sold-out house. If you don't know this band, get on it! And whenever you have a chance to go see them live, don't think twice. I know I won't. Last night's performance at Lee's Palace was one of the best ones I've seen all year.The set list was heavy Glory Hope Mountain, though a few older songs were performed. Ohbijou joined the band onstage for the first encore song---Low Gravity, amazing---and the two bands came together for the last song of the evening, Ohbijou's Steep.

Ohbijou, in the middle slot, was in happy mood too, but kept things more low key during their set. A showcase for Casey Mecija's songwriting, this Toronto sextet (mostly) performed a great set in front of a crowd of friends, family, and many, many fans. I'm less familiar with the band's music, but what I heard, I liked. Ohbijou's been on tour with the Acorn, and last night they worked well together, setting an instrospective tone that the Acorn built on and turned into a party. The awkward banter was endearing, but I'd like to see Ohbijou party it up more on stage. They're certainly capable of it, as the last song of the evening showed.

Here are some shots, including one of the Acorn's Rolf singing with the band.Well, geez, if I'd only seen these two bands, I'd be happy. But, the openers were the awesome Rural Alberta Advantage. Despite the name, the band formed and plays out of Toronto, but the trio is a musical tribute to the province and its people, past and present. (If this sounds lame, it's because I can't write. Because the band isn't.) Songs like Edmonton and Frank, AB might be place-specific, but these and other RAA tracks speak to universal human themes: childhood memories, stories that shape our understanding of the world we live in, and holding onto the past while moving forward in one's life. The RAA's been getting all kinds of internet love recently, in Toronto, all over North America, and elsewhere. Indie music lovers have been discovering them at a fast rate, and here's to hoping for bigger things for this band soon!

I loved their set, but I felt almost like the lone RAA regular up at the front. That was kinda weird for me. But, this wasn't their show. As usual, and as the record, "Hometowns," showcases, the RAA performs folk-inspired indie pop but with fast-paced drumming that gives the melodies an urgency and excitement. The somewhat strained leading vocals and sweet female backing ones combined with creative percussion by all three band members and use of keyboards work fantastically well. I've written about this band lots of times before, and put them on my "hottest" list.

Photos aren't great, but here's a couple of Nils and Amy. Paul was hidden at the back of the stage.Ah, Lee's Palace, you've done right by me once again. Thanks so much to all the bands for a great show!

Other reviews: The R.O.B., photos by Chromewaves (Frank)


The R.O.B. said...

Yeah, I was there, but wasn't brave enough to get up to the front... I'm not one for crowds. I managed to snag a spot along the railing straight ahead from the stage...

I have to agree about Ohbijou, it'd be great to see them be a little more assertive. That said, I think they're not really a 'Lee's Palace' kind of band... they'd be much better off in a smaller/quieter venue.

Anonymous said...

Ok I punked out on going to the show. I never bothered picking up an advanced ticket. I was thinking about going down and paying at the door (although perhaps would have been unsuccessful since you mentioned in your post it was a sold out show). I've yet to see RAA, I've seen Ohbijou a few times and they're pleasant but not that inspiring to see live(depending on my mood) and I'd most wanted to see The Acorn since the last time I saw them was earlier this year at Canadian Music Week....but man(ok woman), I really didn't feel like making the trek down from Mississauga on a work night...I've just been pretty pooped lately. Glad you had a good time(were you really the only one up at the front for RAA?). In December, I'm planning on hitting the concerts in full force...just hope I'm up to it. BTW, your reviews have been great for a little while know...wasn't there a time you were all like, "I write lame reviews"? ;-)

historyjen said...

Wasn't the only one at the front, but I'm used to being surrounded by RAA regulars who know all the right handclaps, etc. And they weren't there! :-)