Kicking things off were Brett Caswell and the Marquee Rose, who traversed the country by covering songs from Matt Mays, the Weakerthans, New Pornographers and Arcade Fire. Thanks to Carleigh Aikins's gutsy lead vocals, the NP's "Mass Romantic" stood out as a set highlight. Hard rock was then introduced via a specially assembled group comprising Ian Blurton, Darcy Yates and Darren Glover of Flash Lightnin', and Sebastien Grainger (DFA 1979). They rattled the eardrums with fiery covers of songs by the likes of the Constantines, Tricky Woo and Peaches (a Blurton-led assault on "Fuck the Pain Away" being a definite high point). Nick Sewell and Nick Flanagan then guested on vocals on, respectively, an Illuminati and Fucked Up song.
A rootsier vibe was provided by the next house band, the reliably fine NQ Arbuckle, and their covers of Joel Plaskett as well as Tegan and Sara faves. Sarah Slean charmed with another Plaskett cut and Sarah Harmer's "Basement Apartment," while beau Royal Wood delivered a robust "Don't Walk Away Eileen." Elliott Brood's Caset Laforet did Corb Lund, and Justin Rutledge and friends went suitably epic on Arcade Fire's "Wake Up.'
Local rockers the Order of Good Cheer (fronted by Frank Guidoccio of Memory Bank) then took over for another fun, star-studded set. They backed up Slean and keyboardist Todor Kobakov for a raunchy romp through Metric's "Combat Baby." Neil Quin (Zeus), Dave Hamelin and Liam O'Neil (the Stills), and Stuart Berman (the Two Koreas) delivered a song apiece, though the attempted ironic take on Nickelback was underwhelming. Things picked up with stellar performances by Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew (doing Wolf Parade) and Brendan Canning (Hot Hot Heat), and a massed version of Jason Collett's "I'll Bring the Sun," arguably the finest musical moment of the night.
K-os surprised the crowd with some convincing rockin' out on Billy Talent's "River Below," aided by that band's Ian D'Sa and Aaron Solowoniuk. A shirtless Grainger then seized the mic for a fierce rip through "Try Honesty." Two songs from a reunited Flashlight Brown may have been a tad anti-climactic as a series finale, while the absence of any Broken Social Scene, Feist or Stars covers on this night could be questioned. Still, this series has to be rated a serious success, giving the Junos a much-needed boost of indie rock credibility.
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