Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Dead Letter Chorus: photo by Michael Ligon
It didn't seem my first night of Canadian Musicfest last week would start on a good note given I'd shown up to the Lee's Palace for The Bonfire Ball featuring Jason Collett, Zeus, and Bahamas later than intended(getting in line around quarter after 9) and saw a lineup bigger than expected. I took a chance and decided to wait but after an hour I gave up and bailed as it realistically did not seem like I'd get in. As it was a Wednesday night and I had to work the next day, I wasn't fully committed to seeing any of my alternate choices for 11pm or later but ultimately decided to head down to the Gladstone to check out Will Currie and The Country French but en route on the Dufferin bus to the Gladstone I changed my mind and decided instead to check out Aussie's Dead Letter Chorus at The Painted Lady on Ossington Ave. I'd liked what I heard and fully expected it be an entertaining time.
The Aussie five member indie folk-rock outfit timed their Canadian Musicfest appearance to coincide closely with the release of their debut album “The August Magnificent” released in Canada on Bumstead Records today March 16, the album released independently in their native Australia in 2008. A tight squeeze it was at The Painted Lady, one of the smallest venues in Toronto I've ever been in, but the concentrated patronage added at least the illusion of a buzzed-about show. If I had to guess, the reason for the close to capacity crowd was that they'd probably had come out for locals The Wilderness of Manitoba, themselves a buzzed-about indie folk outfit. But at least people stuck around for Dead Letter Chorus.
With the stage illuminated with a combination of dim lighting and christmas lights and the band spiffied up in their presentable garb, they were so immediately likeable as they performed a set of tuneful folk-rock possessing an underlying rootsiness reminiscent say of The Jayhawks. Co-lead vocalist Cameron Potts did an admirable job on vocals but it was the effervescent lead vocals of keyboardist Gabrielle Huber like on their debut single "Down In Your Valley" where they really excelled. For the most part, vocals were a dual responsibility as Potts and Huber traded off vocals as well as sung together, a combination which really worked well. Musically, they're conventional as 'alt-country' [if you had to lump them into a genre] bands come, but the musicianship was played with a good sense of urgency when necessary and fortunately they had really strong tunes.
With their debut album released today, and their album release show tonight at the Horseshoe Tavern(sorry for the late reminder), I hope for big things for the band in North America. And then one day I can look back and say , "remember when they played that tiny venue in Toronto, The Painted Lady?"
If you don't catch the band tonight, they're going on a short Canadian jaunt opening for Two Hours Traffic which will stop in Toronto at Lee's Palace on April 3.
Photos: Dead Letter Chorus @ The Painted Lady (March 10, 2010)
MySpace: Dead Letter Chorus
Video: Dead Letter Chorus - "Down In Your Valley" (music video)