THE ADAM BROWN with TOWNSHIP EXPANSION and FORD PIER as part of the Wavelength Music Series at Sneaky Dee's, January 8. Tickets: pwyc. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN
Somebody told me west coast transplant Ford Pier had been on for "quite a while" when I got to a cram-packed Sneaky Dee's Sunday midway through his meandering tale of getting questioned by MTV Canada (" ...I told them something blithe and witty..."), then hitting H&M for a coat, where he heard Gang of Four - here's the payoff - whose drums he stole for the next song.
That song did rock, thanks to Pier's emotive but sturdy voice and tight band. Overlong tangent aside, Pier's performance also offered a fair idea of the consistent balance of fun, quirk and quality offered by the nearly six-year-old (their anniversary kicks off February 10) weekly Wavelength music series. They also do a zine.
DJ Youknowthatguythatstalkedmeinhighschool (a cheeky handle typical of 'length selectas) filled the room with mainstream rap before Montreal's the Adam Brown went on. When they did, gawky frontdude Adam Brown 's wails about getting struck by lightning (his charged-up band validating the claim) blended into a ruckus that prompted instant body surfing in the crowd.
A spiritual-sounding organ opened their next number, which included a We Didn't Start The Fire-esque "on and on" bridge before winding up with an unabashed surge of "oohs" and "hoos," sung in a falsetto that could give the remaining Gibb brothers a run for whatever money they've held onto.
While Brown's high-pitched vocals carried them dangerously close to the Coldplay realm at times, his band's power-folk energy seldom waned. Throughout their set, Brown and co. had audience members doing what can only be described as "evangelical indie rock jazzhands."
By the end, guitarist/message board king Shawn Petsche (who currently boasts a whopping 368 myspace friends) picked strings behind his head while getting swept further into the crowd that flooded the thudding stage. Rowdy, bawdy goodness .
Before the robustly melodious Township Expansion hauled their hornful pop concoction onstage, the night's ebullient yet sardonic regular MC, Doc Pickles , attemped a mini-rant about the irony of Wavelength beginning because NOW wasn't giving bands like these enough attention.
He qualified his remarks by admitting that he's bitter and should quit smoking.