Friday, August 21, 2009

Gig: Revolvers

Revolvers / The Caraways

The Silver Dollar. Saturday, August 15, 2009.

With a little more lag time between plans than'd be perfectly elegant, I had time after leaving Cinematheque (confused all to hell by the Cocteau-y weirdness of Les Enfants Terribles) for a relaxed walk over to the Silver Dollar. Still got there mildly early, as witnessed by the fact that the last of the evening's blues bands were breaking down their gear as I settled in. A chance to witness the venue in transition as the last scraps of the older crowd out for the early show finished off their drinks before the late-night denizens began to take over.

Hadn't heard of The Caraways, the night's opener, though I had seen it mentioned that the band's membership included John Sutton (ex-Weakerthans). While they were setting up, that seemed less striking than the cocktail dresses and exotic instruments that were taking the stage, and indeed, the real motor of the band turned out to be vocalist Laura Keightley, complemented on harmonies, french horn and melodica by a possibly newer member of the band, as yet unnamed in their info. The five-piece turned out to be working in a sophisticated, textured vein that left them looking classier than the crowd they were playing to. If the Blake Babies played downcast, west-coast pop it might sound something like this, albeit cut with a 90's alternative sensibility.1 But the dominant vibe was a smoky ambiance driven by Nikos Kougias' "Out on the Weekend"-styled drums. The band wasn't putting across a dominating stage presence, but that gave the impression that they were folding themselves into the environment rather than shrinking into the woodwork. Quietly impressive and solidly professional — keep your eye out for 'em.

Listen to a track from this set here.

The main attraction for me on the night was Revolvers, a local quartet broadly in the two-guitar psych-garage genre, celebrating the release of their first album with a gig. Although the style of the day is to amp up yr nuggets with extra layers of noise and slop, the most unique element of Revolvers' sound was the restraint they applied to their songs. At the places where most bands of their ilk would pile on more chaos, Revolvers held back, making it sound like a sort of contained fury than a psychotic reaction.2 In theory, this means that the band has room to shift up, if they ever decide to kick their songs up a notch, but it implies they're finding the most rewarding territory in their songs' melodic centres, and kudos to them for that.

It's not all there yet — the songwriting might feel a tad undercooked, for example — but this was an enjoyable set from a young band that has some elements tantalizingly in place. Were I offering advice to the band on where they could take this implied psychedelic explosion, I would suggest less blues, more Galaxie 500. If they're not looking to explode, they should consider learning how to shimmer.3 The band played for thirty-five minutes, and the crowd on hand would have been happy to hear some more.

There was more rock action on tap from Drunk Woman, who I have heard kick up a righteous fuss, but the time I'd spent tromping around in the hot afternoon's sun was catching up with me and I was feeling well exhausted. Stopping to grab a copy of Revolvers' CD, I made my way out to the street.

Listen to a track from this set here.

1 The latter quality was especially apparent on a song with Sutton on vox.

2 Another sign of their restraint: drummer Lavien Lee played with brushes for the duration of the set.

3 Of course, what I recommend for my aesthetic edification and what would get this band filling up rooms with happy, beer-drinking patrons are probably two different things, so, like, consider the source there.

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