I took it easy for the first night of Canadian Music Week (I’ll explain my reasoning later) but I still managed to get three bands in. I like that these shows start early, usually at 8pm, and that most venues aim to run things on time. Makes it easy for a tired lady to get to bed at a reasonable hour!
I plan to check out a lot of the line-up at Rancho Relaxo during the festival, both because I am biased and because I think it’s really solid. So it was fitting that I started things off there last night, with Revelstoke. A decent number of other people did the same — he definitely had some of the with-it crowd out. Revelstoke played an electro-acoustic set that made frequent use of loop pedals, but he avoided the trap that some solo artists using that approach can fall into; I’ve sometimes find that the artist is so focused on the pedals and the technical wizardry that they seem removed from the audience, but that wasn’t the case last night, as evidenced by some sing-along participation he requested near the end of the set. The songs were pleasant and a very nice way to start off the fest — not boring, but not too crazy. I’d be interested to hear a full set, or see how things come together with a couple of collaborators on stage.
You couldn’t get further removed from Revelstoke’s setup than that of the second band, The Unquiet Dead — they have nine members, nothing electro, with lots of singers and percussion. I enjoyed the band when I saw them play Rancho a few months back, but they were even tighter now, and the songs sounded stronger. I think Windsor doesn’t get enough credit for its talented music scene, but hopefully The Unquiet Dead’s appealing mix of soul, roots, and rock will change that; they’re a band full of great musicians who are already making a lot of progress in their home city and elsewhere. I wish more people had seen them last night but hopefully they’ll get the chance again soon.
I always find the Silver Dollar a frustrating venue during these festivals — they get such great bands, but I’d never arrived there and found them running on time. Last night they decided to surprise me, because Vancouver band The Washboard Union had just started when I walked in the room at 10pm. This was another large band — seven members — of talented musicians with an impressively tight sound, though Washboard definitely leaned harder to the country/bluegrass side of things. The crowd that was there was definitely into it, and I’m glad they had a receptive response for their first Toronto show, but I think they’d really bring the house down in a full room. (And yes, there was a washboard involved.)
So why did I only see three bands last night? Because I’m bound and determined to make it to Honheehonhee at the Rancho at midnight tonight. It’ll be well past my bedtime on a school night, but I’m sure it’ll be worth it.