Close Talker / Jordan Klassen O'Hanlon's, Regina SK, May 2

Close Talker / Jordan Klassen O'Hanlon's, Regina SK, May 2
Photo: Peter Scoular
O'Hanlon's being packed on the weekend as a given. The Irish pub might not be the only thing open after dark anymore in Regina's downtown, but the combination of no cover and no-cover-band live music on Friday nights is normally enough to draw a particular kind of crowd. Still, it's noticeable when a band with any kind of buzz is coming in. One starts looking around their expanded main room, thinking, "They could've shuffled these tables and chairs off to somewhere else, right?"

Close Talker have that buzz, and and they packed O'Hanlon's nicely. The Saskatoon four-piece have been a Saskatchewan "it" band since before they even released their 2013 debut, Timbers. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, they quickly built an excited fan base that, these days, is reaching outside of the province. For now, though, their current tour is taking them through O'Hanlon's with tour mate Jordan Klassen, who started his band's sound check sometime before 11 p.m. for a big, drunk crowd.

Having to sound check a ukulele in front of this crowd must have been difficult, but if there were any thoughts that the crowd might talk over the Vancouver artist's music or that his chamber folk wouldn't play right on a Friday night, they were quickly put to rest. The full band experience helped greatly. Klassen's an artist who's progressed writing solo to writing and arranging for a band, and it shows, especially in the interplay of vocals between him and the female keyboardist.

Klassen must've been deeply changed by a Sufjan Stevens record along the way, maybe coming late to the party picking up Illinois, and was never the same again. There are delicate moments to his live show, aiming for bits of pastoral beauty, but he punctuates them with moments of energy and enthusiasm, and boy, does he have the latter in spades. Klassen was the smiling-est fellow to play music that night, showing clear excitement just to be in front of people with his songs — even when his keyboard stand collapsed at his touch.

The crowd only grew for Close Talker; any more people, and they'd have needed to be standing on tables. The audience came ready, too. The group's songs have sing-a-long moments, and parts of the crowd gleefully obliged.

All the music Close Talker played felt very much cut from a similar cloth. They flitted in and out of the sweeping indie rock of Hey Rosetta and added a touch of the groove of Apostle of Hustle, not completely achieving the heights of either but certainly on their way to their own sound. Their latest songs twist and turn in unexpected ways, playing with riffs and building atmosphere at will.

There's every reason to think this band will continue to develop and distinguish themselves. As it stands, the songs in their set tend to become one, and that repetition mutes interest slightly.

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