Monday, April 29, 2013

Little Green Cars @ Drake Underground, Toronto (March 28, 2013)

Little Green Cars: photo by Michael Ligon   Little Green Cars: photo by Michael Ligon

Blame it on Jimmy Fallon. Well, at least I will. Last month, Irish folk-rock band Little Green Cars had been booked for an intimate evening at the Drake Underground which I had not anticipate would sell out. But then just prior to their show in Toronto on March 28, fresh from their appearance at this year's SXSW, they got booked to perform live on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon for what was their American television debut. I guess at least a few people saw it as it appears remaining tickets for their Toronto show must have been snapped up. I'd first saw the band live during last year's CMJ Music Marathon in New York City and was impressed by the young band's full-fleshed folk-melodies and vocal harmonies but was primarily enamored by the vocals of the band's sole female member, co-lead vocalist Faye O'Rourke. For a band (which also includes members co-lead vocalist Stevie Appleby, drummer Dylan Lynch, bassist Donagh Seaver O'Leary, guitarist Adam O'Regan and Utsav Lav on keyboards) who've only been together for about 5 years and whose members are all only twenty years of age, give or take, they're quite impressive. The band's previous live show in Toronto had been in October of last year, also at the Drake Underground, on a triple bill, headlined by Glassnote Records labelmates Daughter, but this time it was the Irish group's turn. Having found out on the day of the Toronto show that it was sold out was a bummer but I was fortunate enough to snag a ticket from someone selling theirs and all of a sudden, problem was solved.

On a different night, maybe 5 years ago, I'd have been in a head-space to appreciate locals Grounders and their idiosyncratic indie-pop more. They have a lush, subtle psychedelic vibe that reminded me a bit of The Flaming Lips or Mercury Rev, but for some reason I was generally feeling indifferent about them, which is surprising since I enjoyed what I'd heard on their YouTube channel. And so after what seemed like a bit of an extended set up time, the band du jour, Little Green Cars took to stage to a warm welcome from the audience. They were only two weeks into their tour by that point and were fortunately still feeling energized it seems. From the band's recently released debut album entitled "Absolute Zero" [produced by Markus Dravs who also produced Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More and Babel and Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible] the band performed many of the songs off the album. To my understanding, a bunch of the songs reach back at least a few years and given the band's arduous touring over the same period, the band seem to have perfected their live show and vocal harmonies, delivering a fine performance that felt second-nature. The opened the show with an acapella number, "Red", showcasing their vocal harmonies in fine form. The band showed a knack for folk melodies and vocal harmonies (on tracks like "The River Song") not surprisingly reminiscent of current chart-toppers Mumford and Sons, but the young band showed they'd not abandoned the rock, delivering a spunky energy on tracks like "Big Red Dragon" and "The John Wayne". In between songs, vocalist Appleby recounted the band's tour in the form of a poem, and asked the crowd the best place to get poutine in Toronto, so while the band's songwriting may not reflect it, yes they did still have a sense of humour. As the set drew to a conclusion, the crowd clamored for an encore but we didn't get one. That was a slight disappointment on an otherwise impressive set from this fine young band.

Photos: Little Green Cars @ Drake Underground, Toronto (March 28, 2013)
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Video: Little Green Cars - "Harper Lee" (live session for The Line of Best Fit)

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