Partner The Markham House / The Garrison, Toronto ON, February 13

Partner The Markham House / The Garrison, Toronto ON, February 13
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
With just a pair of singles to go on, you couldn't blame audiences for wondering what Sackville, NB's Partner would do with two sets at Wavelength yesterday. But on top of obliging fans of "Hot Knives" and "The 'Ellen' Page" at each gig, Josée Caron and Lucy Niles debuted an album's worth of new material between their sets at the Markham House City Building Lab and the Garrison.
All slice-of-life presentations firmly couched in stoner deadpan, millennial-isms, puns, and queer self-actualization, Caron and Niles used their acoustic afternoon set at the former to lay that endearing, sometimes vulnerable but often hilariously spun groundwork, while the evening's setlist – brought to life with a backing band that added drums, a third guitarist and a bass player to the dynamic – channeled it through a vocabulary of indie rock forms minted in the '90s.
It's a formula that risks novelty and "slacker" categorization, but at both these gigs they anchored it all with legitimate guitar chops (the Garrison's set closer "Ambassador to Ecstasy" had Caron finish things off with a blistering two-hand arpeggio tapped solo, while the guitar action labelmate Steven Lambke lent her for the acoustic set couldn't handle the more technical bits), providing two of the most entertaining live performances of the festival so far.