Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sunset Rubdown and Witchies Played Rickshaw Stop - Review, Pictures

Last night at Rickshaw Stop, we caught two sets from a pair of Montreal bands: Sunset Rubdown and Witchies. To be frank, we went in pretty much stone cold; we'd heard such good things about Sunset Rubdown, that we figured taking a chance on them in such a small venue would be a safe bet. As it turns out, it was more than that: not only did Sunset Rubdown deliver a dead solid performance for their fans, but openers Witchies were also one of the most charming and engaging openers we've seen in a long time.

Witchies are a three piece from Montreal, and from their first tune they were quick to win over the crowd. Their sound is a jangly brand of synth pop, with accessible melodies, and sometimes sprawling arrangements. The set was well balanced, with a variety of songwriting. The tunes ranged from the poppy and accessible, to a more subtle experimental number which closed the set. The performance was underscored by a comfortable vibe, and smiles on the band's face that reinforced the fact that they were enjoying themselves.

Most of the audience was as surprised as we were with their set, and equally impressed. There were compliments shouted between almost every song, and even as the band finished their set, the applause was heavy and genuine. The band seemed somewhat bewildered by the reception, and given that it was their first real tour, that makes some sense. That being said, with such a solid sound and great songs, we would give them one piece of advice: get used to it.

Witchies were followed by Sunset Rubdown, who quickly loaded a pretty diverse array of instruments onto stage to facilitate their highly variable sound. The band proceeded to play a lengthy set for a crowd that was clearly made up of diehard fans. Almost every song was met with huge cheers, and even the new material had the audience singing along word for word.

Like we mentioned, we had gone into this show stone cold, so we were taking in Sunset Rubdown's sound for the first time. There's no question that the band is well practiced, technically solid, and pushing boundaries with their instrumentation. Not only that, but both Spencer Krug and Camilla Ingr held up their multi-instrumentalist roles to perfection, allowing the band's sound to be far more varied than it would be if band members had been instrumentally pigeon-holed.

Even with a great performance and an enthusiatic crowd, the show just didn't quite win us over. Like we said, performance-wise everything went perfectly; the reality is that it was far more of a matter of personal preference. Between Krug's epic, almost operatic voice, and lyrics that centered around dreamy fantasy imagery, we just couldn't find a niche of the material that we could relate to and really let it take hold. All things being equal, we'd still recommend checking out the band if they're in your town. There's no question that they've got a vital, unique sound, and from our perspective that's more than enough.

The band's tour continues in North America through July.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive

Sunset Rubdown Summer 2009 Dates
06/26 Portland, OR - Doug Fir Loungew/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
06/27 Seattle, WA - Chop Suey w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
06/28 Victoria, BC - Sugar Nightclubw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
06/30 Vancouver, BC - Richard's On Richardsw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/02 Calgary, AB - The Marquee Roomw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/03 Edmonton, AB - The Pawn Shopw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/04 Saskatoon, SK - Louis' Pub
07/05 Winnipeg, MB - West End Cultural Centerw/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/06 Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/07 Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/08 Bloomington, IN - Jake's Nightclub w/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/10 Toronto, ONT - Lee's Palacew/ Elfin Saddle and Witchies
07/11 Montreal, QC - Il Motore w/ Elfin Saddle
09/10 Glasgow, UK - Stereo
09/11 Belfast, UK - Spring and Airbrake
09/12 Dublin, Ireland - Crawdaddy
09/13 Leeds, UK - Brudenell Social Club
09/14 Manchester, UK - The Deaf Institute
09/15 London, UK - Garage
09/16 Cardiff, UK - The Glode