The Canoes @ Bottom Lounge, 9/15/11

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I sometimes say really dumb stuff (@music_defined to find out). I’m also much funnier in 140 characters than I am in thousand word write-ups about Watch The Throne. Twitter has lead to some fun stuff for us here. Last week Molehill said I was gonna get an early copy of the record they’re working on, and my entire relationship with The Canoes is basically Twitter-based. They invited me to their show via Twitter, and then a few days later told me that the date and venue had changed. The new date coincided with the free Gin Blossoms show at Navy Pier, so I told them they better cover “Alison Road”…ah, the power of Twitter.

The show was great. It was actually held up in the Volcano Room above Bottom Lounge. I’d never been up there, but it’s a really nice place and perfect for a band like The Canoes. The sound was really good, which is always a concern when I go somewhere new. The lighting was pretty meh, but Kari was able to get some great shots anyway. And the crowd, though not huge, was into the show.

I’ve been listening to the band’s EP, Roger, for a bit now, and I like their sound. It’s perfect in its imperfection, and I was happy to hear they didn’t try to clean it up for the live set. The lyrics are bookstore nerd intelligent, but the music can get down and dirty at times. It can also soar, like the guitar solo on the song “Bob And Jerry.” My favorite songs are “American English” and “Middle West,” but of the ten songs I honestly dig nine of them.

After listening to their record a few times, I told my friend and amazing musician Patrick Tape-Fleming to check these guys out. I feel like if his band, The Poison Control Center, had a alt-county feel, they’d sound a bit like The Canoes. It’s got that kind of punk attitude with americana and 60’s pop influence that I find so compelling for some reason. I think a good band starts with musical knowledge, and these guys tip their hats to bands to bands like REM and Neutral Milk Hotel with equal measure.

I was pleased that they didn’t just play the record in order, because my biggest problem with Roger is the tracklisting. So it was good to hear everything out of order. I was also a big fan of the energy on display. Sometimes when a crowd isn’t huge bands will be less than eager to play at one hundred percent, but I have a feeling these guys would have given it their all if I was the only one there.

The only thing that bothered me a little bit was the fact that the band mainly faced each other instead of out at the audience. Not a major thing right now, but definitely something to work on going forward. I was impressed with guitarist Rory MacPhail’s ability to sound amazing while standing in one spot, in the dark, for almost the whole show. He handles the axe like it’s nothing. Lead singer Elliot Teller has an odd affected British accent at times, which threw me for a loop at first. After a couple of times I grew accustomed and actually found it so weird that I liked it. Bassist Alex Teller and drummer Sam Durkes did a great job keeping things moving. I really liked that Sam’s drumming didn’t drown out the rest of the band, which can happen in smaller venues.

Back to my original story…so, I told them to cover “Alison Road” jokingly. Wouldn’t you know it, second to last song they play their rough cover of the Gin Blossoms classic. It was very nice of them to take the time, and I appreciate it.

I had a really great time at the show. I hope some of you will make an effort to catch them at an upcoming show. You can download Roger right now if you’d like. I urge you to. And it’s free.

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