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Going into Friday night's show at the Bowery Ballroom, I thought I was in for a mellow evening, but boy was I wrong. Holopaw, the first of two openers, may have made good use of the pedal steel, but thanks to a healthy dose of electric guitar as well, their Americana bent definitely recalls good old indie rock... and even a little punk. And from there, things just got more raucous.
Canadian group Land of Talk makes the kind of music that's made for dancing with abandon in your empty apartment. With the exception of a few mellower tunes, the majority of their catalogue is upbeat and packed with raw power. Lead singer (and sole female member) Lizzie Powell is far more than eye candy. She may have a sweet demeanor, but with a guitar around her neck and a mic at her lips, she is fierce - and quite emotive when it comes to facial expressions.
Land of Talk is a fitting band for the evening - and not just thanks to their sound and impressive energy level. Their upcoming album (to be released in August) on Saddle Creek was produced by Besnard Lakes singer Jace Lasek (who has also worked with Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown). At the end of Land of Talk's set, Lasek also joined them on stage to contribute backing vocals.
By the time The Besnard Lakes took to the stage, it was already nearing midnight but spirits were high. After playing just a single song, Jace Lasek excitedly announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's a very special day. It's my wife Olga's birthday." For her birthday, bass player Olga ('Auggie') Goreas had apparently put in a request for unending mojitos from a man dressed like Fidel Castro, but Lasek was unable to find someone with the right facial hair configuration and the appropriate army fatigues. Goreas did get a mojito and a chorus of Happy Birthdays from the audience, though.
Mojitos and birthday announcements out of the way, The Besnard Lakes launched into "For Agent 13" from The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse, which features a nice call and response with Lasek and Goreas on vocals. With the exception of a few sleepier songs like their 2007 stand-out track "Disaster," the majority of the songs in the headliner's set had a definite bent toward rock. I suppose it's hard not to act like a rockstar when you've got what must have been a custom-made 12-string sparkling white guitar and tinted aviators like Lasek. Given the name of their newest album, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, I guess I should have had a better idea of what to expect.
The Besnard Lakes wrapped up their nine-song set with the expansive song "And You Lied to Me," which features a pretty sweet guitar solo. Mid song, Lasek walked over to Goreas and started jamming, and before they walked off stage, Lasek leaned gave the birthday girl a hug and a kiss.
After a brief hiatus backstage, the band came back for another couple of songs - Goreas, with mojito in hand. In response to a couple of screaming audience members, The Besnard Lakes closed with "Thomasina" from their 2007 EP, Volume 1.
The two openers' setlists, some videos and more pictures from the whole night, below...
Land of Talk
The Besnard Lakes
Needle in the Sway
The Art Teacher and the LIttle Stallion
The Last Transmission (Honeybee)
The Lazy Matador
The Conductor and the Hobbyist (Avalanche)
Land of Talk setlist
Some Are Lakes
May You Never
Speak to me Bones