Published Jun 10, 2011Playing first is never easy, but Miracle Fortress's Graham Van Pelt did an admirable job getting an early crowd into tracks from his latest LP, Was I the Wave?, delivering each song with energy and precision. His two-man-band stage presence made it difficult for Van Pelt to get the sparse audience really going, but it applauded him enthusiastically between songs, nonetheless.
Immediately following Van Pelt's departure from the stage, Dan Snaith (aka Caribou) began his live DJ set. Yes, he was actually spinning records (who wants to see a guy picking songs from his laptop, anyway?), and though it took some warming up, Snaith soon had the crowd nodding their heads to an excellent mix of hip-hop, world music, and straight-up singer-songwriter melodies.
Headliners Junior Boys capped off the night nicely, playing a mix of songs that drew heavily from the band's landmark 2006 album So This Is Goodbye and their latest It's All True. The band were stunningly on cue all night, but that could be partially attributed to the fact that much of their act is canned; during encore-closer and hands-down standout "Banana Ripple," Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus walked offstage before the song had completely come to a close, making for an odd, anti-climactic finish to the duo's best-received song of the night.
Still, the set was a pleasure to take in. Greenspan's voice is as velvety-smooth live as it is on record, and the duo's songs sound more dynamic with a live drummer behind the kit. New songs like "Itchy Fingers," "The Reservoir" and "You'll Improve Me" went over well, but it was the classics that really caught the crowd's ear. "Parallel Lines" proved an appropriately sexy set opener, "Equalizer" and "Double Shadow" were bigger than the recorded versions ever sound, and "In the Morning" was greeted by a cheer from the crowd, proving to be the set's highlight until the band's encore. By the end of the epic "Banana Ripple" and its closing refrain "No, you'll never see me!," Junior Boys had the entire venue's hands in the air as they shimmied back and forth. And hell, getting a 19-plus Toronto crowd dancing? You know you're doing something right.