Monday, January 16, 2012

LIVE REVIEW: Elliott BROOD / Harlan Pepper at Starlight, Waterloo ON

This was certainly one of the more odd shows that I’ve ever been to. It had nothing to do with the bands though, they were both outstanding, just the circumstances surrounding the show.

Doors were scheduled to open at 9:00 so I got there around 9:30 since the opening act usually comes on around 10:00. As I was walking up the street to Starlight I remember thinking to myself that it seemed eerily dark outside, turns out I was right about that. There was actually a power outage that was affecting a large part of uptown Waterloo, which included Starlight. So I just stood in line and waited. I started to hear rumblings that if the lights weren’t back on by 10:00 the show would be called off. So as 10:00 drew closer I was getting prepared to catch the next bus home when suddenly at about 9:50 the streets lit up. Needless to say I was relieved. So by 10:00 I was in and waiting for Harlan Pepper to come on the stage.

I’d heard about these guys before but had never given them a listen. They definitely fit in opening for Elliott BROOD though. They played a kind of alt-country and folk mix which really did a good job of getting the crowd warmed up.

So after the played a few songs, my worst fear came true. The power went out again. Thankfully it was only for about five minutes this time. Standing in a dark bar full of a few hundred semi-intoxicated people wasn’t really where I wanted to be if there wasn’t music being played at the same time. So once the lights came back on Harlan Pepper played a few more songs that really impressed me. They ended up just turning into some really long-winded jams that really engaged the crowd. The guy playing keys did an awesome job during some of those jams too, he was going just as hard as Spencer Krug would.

When Harlan Pepper’s set ended I decided to weasel my way near the front of the stage because I figured it would be a lot more fun to be squeezed in the middle of a bunch of people. So I stood there waiting for either the power to go out again or Elliott BROOD to come on stage. Thankfully Elliott BROOD came on and the power was there to stay. Even if the power did go out, I’m sure the band could have powered the lights themselves because the energy they created was fantastic throughout the whole set.

I’d always heard that Elliott BROOD was amazing live, but often times I hear that about a band and then I just find myself disappointed when they don’t live up to my expectations. I’m thankful to say that Elliott BROOD lived up to, and surpassed my expectations.

To say Elliott BROOD makes country music is a bit of a misnomer. They do make country music, but they make it in a way that’s completely their own. I’ll put it this way; There wasn’t any moshing at this show, but it there was, it wouldn't have been all that inappropriate given the music that was being played.

This band just really knows how to engage a crowd. Even though the crowd started out a little bit subdued, soon mostly everyone seemed to clapping their hands and stomping their feet to the music. When a crowed is already energetic, I think it makes it easier for a band to increase the level of energy in the room. However, when a crowd is relatively stagnant at the beginning of a set, the mark of a true performer is being able to increase the level of energy in the room themselves, which is exactly what Elliott BROOD managed to do.

This was one of the weirdest shows that I’d ever been to with all the power outages. But given the fact that this show was about ten minutes from being cancelled, it makes it all the more rewarding. I’d highly recommend seeing these guys live even if you don’t know any of their music. I think you'd have to be completely lame not to have any fun.

This video isn't from the same show I was at, but you get the idea.

You can follow me on twitter @Mark__Gillis

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