The song is a baroque rock adrenaline shot, with propulsive guitar riffs, wailing violin and yelping background harmonies. Think Arcade Fire meets Broken Social Scene meets a triple espresso.
Despite a lackluster start, the mood picked up a few songs in with the propulsive boroque rocker “Betrayal Pt. 1,” its thundering rhythm section and wailing violin evoking the swirling grandeur of Arcade Fire. A few songs later, multi-instrumentalist Erin Passmore took over lead vocals for “Duet for Emmylou and the Grievous Angel,” a gorgeous, countrified tribute to the band’s hometown of Regina.
The set ended with a series of new songs, one of which featured a party canon wielded by violinist/accordionist Kristina Hedlund. As she sprayed confetti into the crowd, it was an instant of pure, unrestrained joy. Although such moments were in shorter supply than usual, the musicians still earned a chant of “Rah Rah! Rah Rah!” as they filed off the stage.
The show was stolen by the opener, psychedelic rock four-piece Yukon Blonde. The group recently relocated to Vancouver from Kelowna, and this performance was the band’s first on a six week cross-Canada tour. Clad in all white, the band members tore through a brief but memorable set of gritty dual guitar jams and melodic California folk rock (think CSNY or the Byrds). The guitars crunched and jangled in equal measure, and the three-part vocal harmonies were pure Summer of Love. With a brand new EP just released and a LP on the way next year, look for Yukon Blonde’s profile to rise over the next few months.
Also on the bill was Red Cedar, who delivered a solid set of southern-fried rock. Drawing on the whiskey-soaked jams of My Morning Jacket as well as Rust Never Sleeps-era Neil Young, the band delivered a satisfyingly raucous performance, although you had to ignore the bassist’s ridiculous facial expressions in order to enjoy it.