Saturday, October 31, 2009

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, The Wilderness of Manitoba, Slow Down Molasses @ the Garrison -- Oct. 29. 2009

Last night was the first time I'd been to a show in ages. It's one of those things, like going to the gym, you forget how much fun/how good it is for you until you go again. Of course, it helped that all of the bands were excellent.

Band no.1 was Slow Down, Molasses (Saskatoon, SK) who had been touring with the headlining Olenka and the Autumn Lovers (London, On) on their trek through Canada's East Coast which, presumably, took them to the Halifax Pop Explosion. They started slow (hah! pun), maybe it was the time change, maybe was the sound... feedback... ugh, maybe it was that I hadn't had enough to drink yet, or maybe they were just getting warmed up, but by the 30-40 minute mark they seemed to hit their stride and their songs really started coming together.

But the night really belonged to Band no.2, the Wilderness of Manitoba. I mean, this part of T.O. is their hood, I think, so it's fitting and it makes sense, but the minute they set into their first multi-part harmony it felt like the room just stopped... like everyone, collectively, had just been stunned. I've heard their album/EP, Hymns of Love & Spirits (pick of the week #36) and said it was one of my favourites of the year (and it is b-t-w), but somehow, in the age of autotune when things aren't always what they seem, you never really know if artists are actually as good as they sound recorded. They were that good, and then some. In fact, if wouldn't surprise me in the least if they had told me they recorded their entire album in one take. My buddy Don (CD release Dec. 3 @ the Hideout!) said that he thought these guys are on to big things, and I couldn't agree more, the only barrier for them, really, is going to be getting people to see/hear them and if they do, you'll be able to say you heard it here (or somewhere else) first!

Band no.3, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, is a band that I'd been meaning to check out for quite some time, but for whatever reason (mostly my own reluctance to leave my house) I'd never made it out to see them play. I think given the performance that came before them, the fact that the crowd had noticeably thinned, and many people had 'checked out', it would be unfair to judge OatAL on their performance. Not that their performance was bad, in fact, I really enjoyed it, but their songs are not suited for a noisy bar full of patrons who were probably more interested in talking about the WoM's set. I could probably be lumped in with that bunch, though, to my credit, I was attentive -- I didn't talk.

While OatAL set was a marginal disappointment, through no fault of their own (and I really do look forward to seeing them again in a quiter setting) they were responsible for the high light of the night: a rousing rendition of Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" feat. members of Slow Down, Molasses. The Eastern European tinge to Olenka's songs really give a different feel to one of the Boss' best songs.

[mp3] The Wilderness of Manitoba - Dreamcatchers (live @ the Garrison)
[mp3] The Wilderness of Manitoba - Manitoba

[mp3] Olenka and the Autumn Lovers - 45 (live @ the Garrison)
[mp3] Olenka and the Autumn Lovers - Flash in the Pan

Slow Down, Molasses

The Wilderness of Manitoba

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers

See some real photos via Chromewaves.

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