Monday, November 26th, 2007
Glory Hope Mountain
A quiet (read: inactive) weekend on the blog by no means implies a quiet weekend for me – quite the opposite, actually. Familial duties, houseguests and brewing cold kept me largely offline but I still ducked out of everything on Saturday night to catch Ottawans The Acorn’s sorta-CD release show for Glory Hope Mountain at the Horseshoe.
I’d like to say that I’m mentioning the fact that I used to be in a band with Laura Barrett in the interests of full journalistic disclosure but in truth, I’m just trying to catch a little bit of cool by associating myself with her. Since picking up the kalimba a few years ago (full story at Exclaim!), Laura has become something of a local hero and not for the more novel reasons one might initially expect but because no matter what her choice of instrument, she’s a terrifically clever and idiosyncratic songwriter and artist along the lines of Nellie McKay or St Vincent, if less precocious than the former and less dramatic than the latter. Occasionally augmented by glockenspiel or synth bass pedals, she and her kalimbas played a short set of material from her 2005 Earth Sciences EP which she mentioned was being dressed up for re-release. This was the first time I’d seen her perform and, like probably everyone who’s seen her play, was totally charmed. Bring on a proper record.
Bruce Peninsula’s set wasn’t too different from the one they put on a few weeks back at Lee’s Palace. But with this purported to be their last gig for a few months while they go a-recording, I detected a little more cutting loose from the eleven Bruce Peninsulans onstage. They may have bellowed a little louder, clapped a little harder, testified a little more vociferously. Whatever it was, had it been in a barn it would have been a barn-burner. Bring on a proper record.
Don’t know if anyone caught my plug for this show on CBC Radio 3 last week but if so, and if on the off chance you opted to catch the show on my recommendation, I want to apologize for two misleading points. One, though Ohbijou’s Casey Mecija was indeed in the house as a member of the Bruce, she didn’t take the stage to sing “Lullabye” with the Acorn as I’d assumed she would. Secondly, front-Acorn Rolf Klausener has indeed shaved the mighty beard he was sporting over the Summer so anyone hoping to marvel at his hirsuteness… sorry.
But if you were in attendance, I refuse to accept either of those as reasons for not enjoying the show – it was just too good. Taking the stage to the dual-drummer pounding of “The Flood, Pt 1”, The Acorn (currently operating as a six-piece) opened up by calling up all the members of the support acts – that’s a dozen strong – to supply the tribal backing vocals and start things off with a glorious bang. I’d heard that they were going to play the entirety of Glory Hope Mountain in order and while that’d have been cool – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a whole album performed live in sequence – they opted to include material from both their Blankets! and Tin Fist EPs and keep the set mostly uptempo. The textures of Glory Hope weren’t recreated verbatim but the spirit was definitely captured with the extra percussion, various stringed instruments and Central American rhythms , not to mention the rich imagery of the songs themselves. Klausener mentioned at one point that this was the best Toronto show they’d played and though I hadn’t seen all of them, based on the handful of times I’d seen the band perform, I’d be inclined to agree. Glory Hope Mountain has been deservedly accruing praise from all corners and as a result, the band has a much brighter spotlight shining on them than they’ve ever had before – it’s good to see that they’ve risen to the occasion.
The Globe & Mail talked to both Klausener and his mother about Glory Hope Mountain this past weekend.
Photos: The Acorn, Bruce Peninsula, Laura Barrett @ The Horseshoe – November 24, 2007
MP3: The Acorn – “The Flood, Pt 1”
MP3: The Acorn – “Crooked Legs”
MP3: Laura Barrett – “Robot Ponies”
MySpace: The Acorn
MySpace: Bruce Peninsula
The venerable (and legendary) Horseshoe Tavern is turning 60 next month and is hosting a slew of great shows to mark the occasion. I’ve already noted a number of them – Richard Hawley on the 5th, six nights of Joel Plaskett from the 10th through the 16th, Rhett Miller on the 19th – but there’s still some special announcements promised. A couple of these were revealed at the end of last week and both are pretty sweet – first, there’s the kick-off celebration on the 4th with a free show from The Lowest Of The Low. If you responded to that with, “who?” rather than “alright!”, then you’re probably under the age of 30 and live in Southern Ontario in the early ’90s. Read this for some background. And secondly, Justin Rutledge’s ‘Shoe show on the 8th now also features the inimitable Howe Gelb on the bill. More surprises are planned for the 17th and 18th and if this is where they’ve set the bar, they’re sure to be great. If you have an inkling of who it might be, let me know! I won’t tell. Promise.
Neil Young tonight! ‘Nuff said.