Monday, November 12th, 2007
Swift Feet For Troubling Times
I don’t know why, but I’m always a little bit surprised when I see local bands fill larger venues whose bread and butter is usually touring bands with a national/international profile. Maybe it’s because I often see said locals in either much cozier environs or, if it is at a larger club, it’s in a support capacity for one of the aforementioned touring bands. Anyway, the point of it is, it was kind of exciting to see Lee’s Palace so chock full of people wanting to spend their Friday night with Ohbijou.
Touted as their last show for a while, presumably to work on the follow up to last year’s Swift Feet For Troubling Times, it was as much a gathering of friends celebrating a terrific year for the band as it was a concert. Of course, when you combine friends, Friday nights and alcohol you get chattiness and the constant din of the crowd was a point of frustration throughout the night but hey – that’s Toronto for you.
First up was Bruce Peninsula and after seeing them at Dog Day Afternoon in the Summer, it was strange to see them indoors rather than under the late afternoon, country sky. Once underway, though, the eleven-piece outfit – more congregation than band – somehow managed to recreate that sense of elemental urgency, not unlike an impending thunderstorm. There’s a rawness to their foreboding country gospel aesthetic that connects on a very primal level and as they continue to work on their debut album, I wonder how it’ll be possible to capture that energy to tape. Maybe it’d be better to simply pile into a covered wagon and travel the country spreading the good word in person. Check them out on November 24 at the Horseshoe with The Acorn and be saved. Or damned. Or both.
Ah, Basia Bulat. A quick Flickr search shows that this was the seventh time in the past year and a bit that I’ve seen her play and every day I wake up without a restraining order in my mailbox is a good one. So as to avoid giving the prosecution any more evidence, I’ll just say that even with a smaller band than usual – they were a five piece this time out – she was terrific as ever. And since it’s likely this was the last time I caught her in 2007, here’s to another half-dozen great shows in ’08.
Ironically, the crowd noise wasn’t especially overbearing for the openers but when Ohbijou took the stage, they turned the chatter up to 11. Respect! Ohbijou brought some extra volume of their own, however, in the form of a four-piece brass section that not only overwhelmed the talkers, but most of the band as well. Ah well. The horns returned a few points through the night but mostly, the night was Ohbijou doing what Ohbijou does so well – sweet, orchestral pop that wasn’t entirely at home in a big room like Lee’s – there were some persistent feedback issues and some of the more delicate touches in the arrangements were lost – but was comfortable visiting for a spell. And that’s how it is with parties, isn’t it? Things don’t always go exactly as you’d planned and sometimes things get messy but as long as everyone has a good time, isn’t that what really matters?
Photos: Ohbijou, Basia Bulat, Bruce Peninsula @ Lee’s Palace – November 9, 2007
MP3: Ohbijou – “St Francis”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Misty Eyes”
MP3: Ohbijou – “Steep”
MP3: Basia Bulat – “Snakes & Ladders”
MySpace: Basia Bulat
MySpace: Bruce Peninsula
Stars have a new video. Watch it.
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