Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Review: Two Hours Traffic, Sports: the Band, and the Darcys @ The Garrison.

A couple Saturday nights ago (21 Nov) I went to the Garrison to see one of my favourite bands, Two Hours Traffic, and a couple good local acts. The Garrison is the newest downtown venue for indie bands and DJ nights. Located in the Dundas & Ossington neighbourhood, it's just a stone's throw from the Dakota Tavern, and kitty-corner to a handful of trendy bars. I've been going there regularly since it opened in late October, usually because it is home to the Sunday-night series Wavelength. This particular show was all-ages, though it seemed like only a small handful of people were not wearing blue wristbands. I had missed THT when they played Lee's Palace last month during their proper cross-country tour, so was eager to see them, and at a smaller venue than they ought rightly to play. But so much the better for me.

First up were the always snappily dressed Darcys. I know I've seen this band at least once before, but it was so long ago that I really have no memory of it. Their recordings, though, I enjoy, even if they are a bit too rock for me. Knowing their songs didn't get me anywhere that night, though: the whole set list was, so we were told, comprised of new songs. How fun. Their record is done but no word yet on when it will be officially released.

Download: The Darcys, "I'm A Ship" (Endless Water, 2007).
Download: The Darcys, "The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead" (Final Fantasy cover, single, 2009).

The Darcys post-rock fuzz-gaze art pop (or whatever; I shouldn't even try) was followed by Sports: the Band, a more peppy / less preppy outfit. I've seen Sports a few times, and I quite like their spirited pop tunes. I've increasingly come to respect the fact that they are doing something a little different, even though their live performances aren't always as tight as they might be. What they lack in precision is more than made up for in stage presence . . . and here I especially mean the dorky/adorable Robin Hatch on keys and vocals. It was, unfortunately for me, her last show with the men, but it's all good. Here's to new musical projects and directions.

Download: Sports: the Band, "Cast Lots" (s/t EP, 2008).

Earlier this year PEI folk-pop quartet released their third full-length album, Territory. To my mind it's not as good as their second, Little Jabs. That record, though, is so so so good that I forgive them. A band can't be brilliant all the time. And so it was with their performance. Not quite as mesmerizing as they could be, but certainly strong enough to meet my high expectations. (It would have been hard to beat the last all-ages show they played in Toronto.) The set was about equally filled with songs off Territory and Little Jabs, including my favourites "Stuck for the Summer," "Jezebel," "Territory," "Stolen Earrings," "Backseat Sweetheart," and so many more! The bit at the end of "Lost Boys" was performed as a full song by Liam. Good stuff. The excited fans around me near the front---including CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence, to whom the band dedicated their encore song---were singing along. Very quickly I found myself grinning and dancing. I really do love this band. They do folk-pop-rock pretty damn near perfectly.

Download: Two Hours Traffic, "Stuck for the Summer" (Little Jabs, 2007).
Download: Two Hours Traffic, "Territory" (Territory, 2009).

The Garrison, being a new venue, is still a challenge for sound techs, and this was apparent that night, especially during THT's set. The first song was rocky, sound-wise, and throughout the set I would have preferred a slightly better mix with louder acoustic guitar. No big deal, though. Improvements are being made, and the sound techs will work out the kinks. It's nice to have a new spot for good music, and so far I've had a great time hanging out there.

Tonight was no exception. Good bands, some variety, a healthy crowd, and I even bought myself a copy of Little Jabs on vinyl before I left. Now I just need a record player . . . .

Photo credit: Ming Wu, of the THT show in Ottawa earlier this month. He has his own music and photo blogs.

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