Rich Aucoin Gus’ Pub, Halifax NS August 17

The culmination of a cross-country tour that saw one-man band Rich Aucoin bike across Canada, gear and all, to raise money for the Childhood Cancer Foundation, this show was a triumphant homecoming for the Haligonian. It was also be the last show where he would perform his Personal Publication EP in synchronisation with the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, due largely to a cease and desist order he received from the Seuss estate. Unlike the other shows on the tour, Aucoin received some help on stage from a drummer, and for a couple of songs, a full band. They might have been hastily put together and a little sloppy, but they filled out his kaleidoscopic tunes admirably. After an opening salvo with the band, Aucoin donned a Santa suit and a Grinch mask, and with drummer in tow, flew into the synched set. All fears as to how the experiment would translate in a live setting were quickly allayed once the set began. Both Aucoin’s rainbow-hued sound and this wonderfully ridiculous concept immediately brought comparisons to the Flaming Lips. However, with titles like "At War With The Cynics,” it is to Aucoin’s credit that he wryly acknowledges this influence, rendering it more tribute than gimmick. More importantly, Aucoin exuded the likeable sincerity of a man having a great time and happy to be reunited with his friends. The bar’s patrons were more than happy to reciprocate Aucoin’s good vibes, singing and dancing with irrepressible glee. Even amongst all this merriment, the emotional crux of the show wasn’t felt until the Grinch saved Whoville’s presents from teetering off the cliff, which coincided perfectly with a rousing crescendo in "10,342 Cuts for the U.S. (An Exploding).” The band returned for the encore, noticeably more inebriated, and bashed out a jubilant sing-along that was all too appropriate a conclusion to the night’s festivities.