Caribou Vibration Ensemble

The Opera House, Toronto, ON September 10

BY Trevor WeeksPublished Sep 11, 2009

Caribou fans enjoyed a rare treat in Toronto's downtown east end when Copetown, ON native Dan Snaith, collaborating with 14 chums, served up one of only two performances as the Caribou Vibration Ensemble. Somehow, the group found room on stage for the teeming mass of players, which included Four Tet's Kieran Hebden, John Schmersal (Enon, Brainiac), Koushik and Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan, as well as a four-piece horn section, choir and basically two or three of everything else.

Snaith isn't one for much between-song banter, and deconstructing the set song by song in a brief recap would do a great disservice to what was otherwise presented as a seamless 90-minute, stream-of-thought-styled work of art. It quickly became obvious that the goal here was to present the sun-soaked psychedlia of 2007's Andorra in a more orchestral and organic form, without much reliance on digitally driven instrumentation and Caribou's trademark animated visuals. And while the set did suffer from looseness - something to be expected considering the ensemble only had two days to rehearse - Snaith's efforts to present his ambitious vision through such an enormous line-up could not have gone unnoticed by the full house, collectively transfixed by the sheer size of the experience.

This was Caribou super-sized and spilling over in their best effort to make Phil Spector blush. They easily could have done well with a show of this calibre and magnitude at a larger venue, and they will likely get one when they play ATP in New York. However, the tighter confines allowed Greenspan to fill the space when he took lead vocals for a stunning "She's the One" and let the audience feel the full force of the closing drum jams.

Caribou didn't earn the 2008 Polaris Prize for nothing, as it's clear Snaith invests as much energy into recreating his recorded works live with the same enthusiasm he does in studio. Toronto fans, and those who travelled from further away, got to count their lucky stars that they could be part of such an important evening from such a notable band.

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