WOODHANDS, BORN RUFFIANS and the RURAL ALBERTA ADVANTAGE as part of AFTERNOON DELIGHTS ON A HOT SUMMER NIGHT at Palais Royale, September 16. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 450. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
You know you're in for a good time when an event asks you to BYOT (bring your own tambourine), as did Saturday's Afternoon Delights On A Hot Summer Night. An all-day gathering of T.O. indie rock's finest, including the Bicycles, Barmitzvah Brothers, SOCAN award nominee Laura Barrett and more, the show - partly a launch for local zine the New Pollution - ended with Henri Faberge and the Adorables celebrating the release of their new CD.
In keeping with the tambourine-toting philosophy, musicians made use of the many fruit-shaped shakers kept in baskets beside the patio-level stage, which was strewn with sunflowers and oversized beach balls.
The dancers swayed with affection when Woodhands, brainchild of Dan Werb (Red Pony Club/Jazz for Robots collectives), performed at 4 pm. The piano master brought the funk with layered symbiotic synthesizers. Werb wooed the crowd with his strapped-on Roland, bringing guests onstage.
The highlight was Reg Vermue. Clutching a bouquet of sunflowers, Gentleman Reg sang with trademark sweetheart softness, his voice floating over Werb's layered distorted keyboard melodies. By their second song, which they co-wrote, the love was palpable.
Working the skinny-jeans-plus-white-shoes look to good effect, Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians delighted the crowd with his nasal twang and goofy kicks while energetic bandmates pumped out clap-along indie pop that was alternately melodic and abrasive, reminiscent of the best Modest Mouse. Initially plagued by sound problems, the Ruffians persevered to bounce through their upbeat set.
Identifiable by their matching sky-blue T-shirts and complexions aglow from years spent far from T.O., the Rural Alberta Advantage scored with electro odes to their home province, spreading the love with tunes like The Dethbridge In Lethbridge. Their quirky mix of acoustic guitar, soothing girl/boy harmonies, live drums and vibey synth melodies succeeded in conveying Alberta's advantages.
All the bands scored low on attitude and ironic trickery, high on musical innovation and fearless joy - attributes indie fans can delight in, even on a hot summer night that was more overcast autumn.