Monday, October 25, 2010

Concert review: Old Canes / Pete Bush & the Hoi Polloi / (Joy Toujours and the Toys Du Jour)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 / Brillobox

I saw Old Canes at the Brillobox almost one year ago to the day (October 23, 2009). Somehow, that show was way more crowded than this one, and Leigh and I stayed back by the bar for the whole show and, consequently, I don't think I enjoyed them as much as I could have. I liked the album of theirs I had heard beforehand and enjoyed listening to it on my iPod while walking to/from campus. This time, though, the crowd was a bit sparser and we stayed in the second row the whole time and I even liked it more than what I've heard on their albums. So, an interesting switcheroo there. Glad I got to see them again and up close, at that.

I was in a rush to get to the show from campus after an IM soccer game, and apparently it was one of those doors 9:00 / show 9:30 shows that the Brillo randomly has that I wasn't unaware of, so I completely missed the opening band joy toujours and the toys du jour. That name alone had me intrigued and it's a shame I missed them entirely. They did have a couple of CDs on the merch table but no one seemed to be monitoring it for the whole show, so I figured they must have just played and then left. I grabbed a CD on the way out and will listen to it soon. If you're out there joy ... , I may owe you one.

Next up was Pete Bush & the Hoi Polloi. He said it was their first time at the Brillobox, and their MySpace page lists them as from both Pittsburgh and Seattle, so I don't actually know whether to call it a "local opener" or not. They were a bass/guitar/drums trio, but the guitar was a plugged-in acoustic and the bass was a standup double bass and the drums were a standard kit but played in a kinda jazzy/ska way with brushes some of the time. Overall, it was a certainly catchy style and I liked watching how enthusiastic they all were, sincerely bobbing their heads and really getting into it, especially the drummer who seemed to be practically tickling the drumskins with his sticks to get them to make just the right sound in just the right emotional way. The bass was solid too, really heavy sound for an orchestral stringed instrument; I could feel the wall shaking when I leaned on it. The singer had long curly hair that hung in his face a lot of the time and his voice was really well-honed; he sang loud and proud and had great pitch (the bassist sometimes provided some backup vocals, too). He had some funny banter: at the beginning he said they only had "half an hour to blow minds, so no more jibber jabber", and towards the end he asked the sound guy, "How we doin' on time, sound guy?" and he just responded with, " ........ uh, ok". It seemed like a sizable portion of the crowd knew the band and their songs, and some guys were singing along and fist pumping at the right moments. I had a mental moment towards the end of their set where I thought the song sounded familiar but then I just realized it reminded me of the earlier part of the song, and it had somehow already injected itself into my brain during the time when they were playing it, so kudos to them for making their songs that upbeat and catchy. One random observation that I'm not even sure about anymore: I think the singer's voice reminded me a little bit of the singer from Sublime, although that may have been just one particular song. All in all, it was fun to see. Not sure I'll pursue listening to it now, but I definitely enjoyed their set and have no complaints.

Old Canes took the stage a bit after 11:00 and played a solid, long set of songs from their two albums. Like I said, I especially liked being up close and able to see them playing their assortment of instruments. I don't even remember seeing this many people onstage at the last show. There were 5 guys: vocals/guitar, drums, cello/trumpet/harmonica/extra drums, mandolin/xylophone/melodica/tambourine/vocals, and trumpet/keyboard/synth/keyboard/harpsichord/vocals. Yeah, it was awesome to watch all of that instrumentation going on in front of me, and it has since made me go back and relisten to some songs and catch some extra little insturmental flourishes that I hadn't noticed before. The audience was really loving it, with a few people singing along or cheering at the beginning of a song when they recognized it and a group of people right in front of me doing that jump-up-and-down-with-their-arms-around-each-others'-shoulders dance that people love to do at concerts. The band members themselves seemed almost shyly grateful of the appreciation of their music and made sure to thank us at least a few times. With one song left to go, the singer decided it was a perfect time to go off and do a shot at the bar, so the drummer and mandolinist each told a joke to keep us entertained: (1) What's a polar bear's favorite meal? ....... A brrr-grrr! (with hand motions) (2) What did one snowman say to the other? ...... Does it smell like carrots to you? (some audience member actually shouted out the answer to that one and ruined it haha) After that, they decided to play two more songs instead of one, and we all cheered. Overall, it was really fun; just right in terms of crowd size and enthusiasm, the songs they played and the sound system, etc. Everything was great. Definitely try and catch these guys if they pass through your town. I'm looking forward to when the come back again next October 20-something-th :-)

Also, the combined assortment of facial hair in this band was pretty sweet. Singer Chris Crisci has a full beard with big swaths of gray on the sideburns (it looks better than it sounds, really), drummer John Momberg was rocking the shaved head and full, dense beard (see picture above), and one of the other multi-instrumentalists whose name I'm not sure of had a stylish moustache (see other picture above). Good work, gentlemen.

This is a video I took of them playing "Last Collapse" in the middle of their set. Notice they were already thanking everyone for coming out on a Wednesday night ("Yeah, Wednesday!")

and here's a video someone took of them playing "Sweet" at last year's show. The video quality is much better, too (the video feature on my camera does not handle dim lighting very well at all).

joy toujours and the toys du jour

Pete Bush & the Hoi Polloi

Old Canes
Facebook group
Website, with free stream of their first album, Early Morning Hymns
MySpace page for related project The Appleseed Cast

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