Run with the Kittens / Friendly Rich & the Lollipop People / B.A. Johnson The Great Hall, Toronto ON April 30

Run with the Kittens / Friendly Rich & the Lollipop People / B.A. Johnson The Great Hall, Toronto ON April 30
All shows are not created equal. This was made clear at Run with the Kittens' EP release party for Myth in the Sky. When the evening kicked off with a hilarious performance by Hamilton, ON's favourite crazed-trucker geek, B.A. Johnson, the early attendants knew they were in for something a little different, and a lot special.

One-man band B.A. switched between endearingly twangy pop punk and lo-fi midi-inspired backing tracks via his iPhone, all of which support his gut-laugh-inducing lyrics. As much an improv comedian as a musician, B.A. spun brown gold out of all manner of mishaps, including pants malfunctions and ornery iPhone shutdowns.

The night moved right along to Brampton, ON's seven-piece of vaudevillian wackos, Friendly Rich & the Lollipop People. Building a hum of sound before the band were even finished setting up, the unit launched into "Fatwa" from their recent Dinosaur Power album, followed by "Gentlemen's Club," complete with ferocious, testicle-damaging simulated masturbation, with the aid of a microphone aimed directly at Rich's crotch. Their jazzy, Eastern European progressive fusion would make Tom Waits smile and the ghost of Frank Zappa chuckle.

Continuing to display a respect for scheduling, Run With the Kittens took the stage with a video projection depicting front-man Nate Milk taking an acid facial then fictionally subsisting on old gum and toilet water in the bowels of the Great Hall. This performance piece was dubbed "Tool of the Opera" and the band commenced their set with a mash up of Tool's "Sober," "Phantom of the Opera" and Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir."

An energetic set of originals, old, new and current, followed, punctuated with stand-out tracks like "Year of the Hour," "Little Fawn" and the title track from Myth in the Sky. A new song entitled "People Like It Better When It's Planned" was among the night's major show-stoppers, demonstrating the Kittens' increasingly sharp hooks in a progressive folk pop framework.

Not only are Run With the Kittens one of the best live ensembles going, but between drummer/glockenspielest Jake Oelrichs and guitarist Champagne James Robertson, they have two of the best musicians involved in anything even remotely resembling rock music. Their virtuosity manifests in how impeccably they can shape their abilities to fit any style of music.

Always ready to kick it up notch, for their encore the Kittens brought out a juggler, followed by a fire dancer, who chowed down the flames and set his arm ablaze. Shows like this are how legends are born and myths are made real.