Friday, April 24, 2009

Hey Zeus! Hey Pinecones! Hey Rosetta!

Recent Arts & Crafts signees, Zeus, opened the show (well another band actually played before, but I missed them and no one, comically including the bands, was able to recall their name). The melodic instrumentation was key, as even during extended breakdowns it did not overpower or turn to noise. This was especially impressive considering there was a hot-potato of instruments for three members (excluding the drummer) who swapped piano, bass and guitar. Each took their turn with lead vocals, usually whoever was manning the keys, while the other duo would sing the back-up ooo-oo-ooo’s that accompanied many songs. At first I thought there’d be a Sloan vibe, but that was mostly due to a member’s sideburns and glasses, but as they progressed I heard something like an amped-up Willy Currie & the Country French. Whatever it was - it was done well, and they left promising a Sounds like Zeus EP in the coming months. Expect a bit of a stir when that eventually drops.

Brent Randall and his Pinecones battled with the sound guy next...[Aside: the sound for the shows was pretty terrible, with plenty of buzzing, and unknown rattling that, despite the band’s continued pleas, plagued all parties] After taking in a tiny attic set from these guys a few weeks prior I was looking for a little more out of the guys, and I got it - but only a tiny bit. The version of This House was decent enough, and the Kinks cover was alright too but my fave was the one about Jenny’s penny thievery. The pinecones proved to be friendly chaps as we met over a cigar after the set.

Upon reentry I expected to see a packed house of rabid HR fans, but was disappointed with a half-filled Casbah (I suppose they were scheduled against Hawksley and the Reason). At least the invisible line 3m from the stage had finally been breached, unlike for the first couple bands. After ages of soundchecking before they shrugged and resigned to “good enough” Tim started up with a bare acoustic intro (hinted with the smallest drop of Dylan) before the rest of Hey Rosetta! came in to bring things to a swell as they so amazingly tend to do. Despite Tim’s voice being distinct and a focal point of many songs, he appears completely modest and his bandmates seem to reflect this back at him even while he’s playing his solo parts. Though quiet, Tim's parts are strong and moving, and yet many members of the Casbah audience were more interested in the sounds of their own voices, adding to the sound problems much to my chagrin. However Hey Rosetta managed to overcome all of these issues, playing a powerful and packed set of lulls and swells, and those heavenly strings. Not only were the violin (new female?) and cello imperative, but the guitarist hidden in the back added an exceptional element too. (Not to mention that killer bass line on Yes! Yes! Yes!) Also of note, on the one new song tossed in near the end of the set, Tim opened with some solid mandolin before switching over to the keys.

The thing about HR songs is that they are so well constructed; knowing how to rock toward crescendo and draw the listener in. As successfully as this is done on record their live show is just That Much More. Even while reproducing the seemingly chaotic sounds from the record, it is totally recognizable as being spot on, yet they cram in additional amazing while they’re at it. Despite their brief catalogue (Plan Your Escape EP, Into Your Lungs) they already have a variety of songs that make the hair on the back of your neck bristle due to the grandiose live renditions (Black Heart, A Thousand Suns to name just a couple). Each of these songs would make a suitable closer, but the finale is still a given- and same as it was at the last show -as the crowd roared for an encore, and were treated to a New Goodbye.

Set list (~1.5hrs):
Opener – new
Lions for Scottie
Red Heart
The Simplest Thing
There is an Arc
Black Heart
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Tired Eyes
Handshake the Gangster
I’ve Been Asleep for a Long, Long Time
*New song about driving the TransCan
Another Pilot

Encore (held to 1 song by awful sound tech):
New Goodbye

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