Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
Who knew that Elliott Brood had such a huge and rabid fanbase? Not me, and yet Lee’s was packed to the gills on Friday night with rowdy punters keen to take in a little of the Toronto trio’s “death country” stylings. I was there more to see middle act The Acorn but having seen and heard the headliners for the first time last month at the Toronto Reference Library show and gotten a copy of their latest album Ambassador (from the library, natch), I was pretty happy to check out the whole lineup.
Openers Sunparlour Players drink deeply from the same well as Elliott Brood, hearkening back to another musical era, one of stomping, hollering and managing to sound downright fearsome whilst seated. Ranging from raw country to gutbucket blues, there was little chance that the duo wouldn’t win over the Brood crowd with selections from their new album Hymns For The Happy and damn if that’s not just what they did with their barnburner of a set. They play the Tranzac tomorrow night, if you’re curious.
With the musical synchronicity between the first and last acts, Ottawa’s Acorn seemed to be the odd band out with their earnest and emotive pop. I wasn’t the only one to think so, either, as some of the audience around me seemed less than interested in what the outfit had to offer. Their loss, though, as The Acorn put on a wonderful set drawn from their Blankets! and Tin Fist EPs – not the most technically polished performance, but definitely enthusiastic and enjoyable. And I daresay that even the grumblers in the audience were, if not converted by sets end, at least more polite about it. For my part, I was just happy they didn’t go with the photographically awful if seasonally correct Christmas lights-only stage illumination like they did at Pop Montreal.
Elliott Brood’s brand of country isn’t so much geographically prescribed as chronologically. To be specific, they sound – to me, anyways – like 1800s America, post-Civil War. Of course, I may just be saying this because I’ve been watching Deadwood. A little grim and dark humoured but raucous and rollicking, the Brood’s bluegrass-punk got the joint rocking like a roadhouse near last call, a live experience that certainly didn’t come across in the subdued environs of the Reference Library. With his gravel-gargling voice and downright sinister banjo, Mark Sasso sounds like Hell’s own square dance caller. On record they’ve also got a gentler side, but whenever the band tried to slow things down, it was obvious that the crowd wanted to party so they obliged, set dynamics be damned. I had to bail before the show was over in order to catch the last subway home, but I’ve no doubt that they kept it going well into the night.
Photos: Elliott Brood, The Acorn, Sunparlour Players @ Lee’s Palace – December 15, 2006
MP3: The Acorn – “Blankets”
MP3: The Acorn – “Plates & Saucers”
MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Talk It To Death”
MP3: Sunparlour Players – “Shake & Bake For Goodness-Sake”
Video: Elliott Brood – “The Bridge” (YouTube)
Video: Elliott Brood – “Second Son” (YouTube)
MySpace: The Acorn
MySpace: Elliott Brood
The Guardian contemplates about the Swedish indie invasion in the UK. The piece is a few months old but interesting reading.
Apparently taken with the idea of original lineup reunions, Lou Barlow is reassembling the charter members of Sebadoh – himself, Jason Lowenstien and Eric Gaffney – and heading out on tour. They hit Lee’s Palace in Toronto on March 23 and have made all sorts of bootlegs available to whet your appetite. And Chart has the tracklisting for the forthcoming Dinosaur Jr DVD Live From The Middle East, due out May 8.
Got some time? Try this year’s XFM album cover quiz. Harder than it looks… or maybe exactly as hard as it looks. But hard, either way.