Saturday, November 29, 2008

Two Hours Traffic, Boys Who Say No, and The Danks @ WhipperSnapper.

Two Hours Traffic is the real deal. Friday night the Charlottetown, PEI band rolled into town with the Danks to end their Canada-wide tour with an all-ages show at a College St. art gallery, the WhipperSnapper. The last time THT played Toronto, it was at Lee's Palace, so I was keen on seeing them at it much smaller venue. There were some unexpected parts to the show, including the presence of Brooklyn glam rockers Semi Precious Weapons in the audience, and eight CBC television cameras filming THT's entire set. No joke. It would have been a night to talk about no matter what the music was like.

"Little Jabs," the sophomore album by Two Hours Traffic, was on the Polaris shortlist this year. I've been listening to it incessantly for the past several days, in preparation for the show, and I just love it. These guys play pop music that's at times a bit of a throwback, and it's just so gosh darn catchy and happy that it puts me in a good mood. Anyways, my point? I had high expections for the band!

They did not disappoint. Each song---they performed 16 including a two-song encore---upped the ante on any recorded output I've heard. The set was marvelously fun; the band had great energy and no antics were required to get the crowd jumping happily and clapping for an hour or so. Seriously, it was great. If you haven't heard their stuff, yet, take a listen to "Jezebel," "Stuck For the Summer," "Heroes of the Sidewalk," and "Sure Can Start," for a start. And now imagine them played even better a few feet in front of you. By the end I was left with one overriding thought: this band is fantastic and their star will rise. From the sounds of their new songs, they've got another good record coming out in a few months---"five or six months," one of them told me. If they can keep it together and continue to write and perform tight, catchy, upbeat, eminently singable songs with wide appeal in the indie scene and beyond, there's no telling where they'll end up.
But enough with the predictions. Back to the show.

In the middle spot was local band Boys Who Say No. They have a sound that's hard to describe because it kept changing with each song. I didn't dig everything I heard, but there were enough pretty fun party tunes to keep the crowd (including me) happy and dancing. This wasn't the best bill for them---more eclectic openers and closers would suit them better---but they played well and with good energy. And don't they just look like they'd be a fun band?!
The evening got started with The Danks, another Charlottetown band that shares half its members with THT. They got toes tapping and head bobbing, and played a solid, full set. The songs I've heard off their EP "Samples," sounded like pop to me, but the live show was less reminiscent of Two Hours Traffic than those songs lead me to believe. The singer's gravely voice works well with the rockier sound they've got going.

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