Photographs by Keanan Barbour – March of Brown Photoworks
Words by Dan Debes
There were beards a plenty both on and off stage and the air hung with an acrid stench that for a change did not come from illegal substances but rather from a string of toasty vintage christmas lights strewn about the second floor of the venue. The sold out second night show Thursday, December 8, at the Trocadero featured a line-up of Daniel Romano, Hacienda and City & Colour – three bands providing a nice cross-section of folk-laced music.
The opening act, Daniel Romano, is no stranger to the City & Colour camp. Not only did he provide some musical accompaniment for Green’s second album, Bring Me Your Love, he was heavily involved in the production of Little Hell playing guitar, piano and organ.
It was surprising to find out where he calls home because when he came out to play his set in a red flannel shirt and Stetson and also appeared to be enjoying some recreational chew, it seemed as though there was a southern transplant on stage.
Despite being from Ontario, Romano brings the whiskey-soaked sound of real americana country music to life. It’s not the type of music that would make one cringe that isn’t as in love with other branches of the genre such as the pop country stylings of a song that is an ode to the red plastic drinking cup. His music goes a bit deeper into the realm of Mr. Cash and cohorts where there is a real story being told and most times it may be sad. Although there wasn’t any direct crowd interaction or action on the stage for this set, it was easy to get locked in to the words behind the music and float on the acoustic pickin’ and slide guitar.
The noise level, stage presence and action all turned up a few notches when Hacienda hit the stage for the second set of the evening. Although their online bios reference the Beatles and Beach Boys, there seemed to be a ghost of the young Rolling Stones on stage. It almost felt like watching a fledgling band on the Ed Sullivan Show that turned out in the end to be some sort of epic success.
This was due to them having that classic rock sound. Not classic rock radio sort of classic but a traditional blues and soul sort of sound from the roots of rock and roll. Most of the set built from their recent effort Big Red & Barbacoa produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and recorded in Auerbach’s studio in Akron,Ohio with his label Alive Natural Sound Records.
The Mexican-American quartet of brothers and cousins hails from San Antonio, Texas so it’s not a big surprise with their influences that they were able to bring the straight up rock sound to the stage. The whole set was electric with their performance energy and probably provided the loudest jams of the night.
City & Colour
By the time Green and friends hit the stage, there was a bit of an odd vibe at times with random shouts from the crowd. Green did his best to sort of ignore or deflect the shouts at first, but one male member of the audience was not to be outdone by yelling “get naked” multiple times because obviously it did not lose its humor the first couple of times. Here Green decided to really break the third wall with “that would just be ridiculous. Who am I, Flea? Anthony Keatis? This isn’t the Red Hot Chili Peppers show.” At some point he also wondered “what happened to you guys? Last night was fine. Tonight you guys are like a bunch of mexican jumping beans.”
Despite the interruptions between retuning and switching of guitars, the set came off with a strong, slow burn that resonated throughout the set. Both the mellow and blasting moments were amplified to a higher level creating a pretty sweeping delivery. Daniel Romano came back out to join up with the rest of the musicians helping to create that full band sound that emanates from the Little Hell album.
Elements like the haunting slide guitar in “Silver and Gold” or the rock out guitar solo in “Fragile Bird” stood out so much more brilliantly. If anything, seeing the band live cements the fact that Green’s music is heavily complimented by several accomplished musicians. It brings the sound from the realm of a guy with a stool and an acoustic guitar to something more intriguing. This is not to say that Green didn’t go old school with the solo acoustic and dedicated long-time fans’ favorite “Hello, I’m in Delaware” to all those that have been supporting him for years.
Unfortunately, if you missed out on these gentleman, the nearby US tour is completed and they are moving back to a highly billed tour in the their home land of Canada. When they swing around again I would jump on for show because you don’t want to be the only one who can’t say “the album sounds great, but oh man they were amazing live.”
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