Brendan J. Canning Casa Del Popolo, Montreal QC, September 28

Brendan J. Canning Casa Del Popolo, Montreal QC, September 28
Photo: Steve Louie
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During his time with Toronto rock collective Broken Social Scene, Brendan Canning always seemed to be the blissed-out hippie to Kevin Drew's revolutionary idealist, providing a relaxing backbone to counter Drew's frenetic mania. Now, Canning is at the helm of his own band, and the five-piece made their debut live performance in the tiny, jam-packed Casa Del Popolo space one to remember.

Cuts from his upcoming album, You Gots 2 Chill, benefited greatly from the full band. Whereas the studio versions sound lo-fi and sparse, the quintet brought a humanistic richness to the songs. Tracks including "However Long" and lead single "Plugged In" were given newfound warmth with the addition of keys, bass, and live drums, complementing Canning's feathery voice without overpowering it. Canning's bandmates were all excellent, but it was keyboardist and additional vocalist Natasha Pasternak who really shone, taking lead vocals on occasion to much success.

Canning also held the crowd off with amusing banter. When asked what the name of the new band was, Canning quickly replied, "the band is named Brendan J. Canning, and the 'J.' stands for 'jam on it!'" And jam on it they did, ending each song with a lengthy and enthused instrumental breakdown. Canning seemed to gain much amusement from playing the guitar, grinning slyly as he strummed.

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