Real Estate / The Babies / Kalle Mattson Mavericks, Ottawa, ON January 19

Real Estate / The Babies / Kalle Mattson Mavericks, Ottawa, ON January 19
Ottawans lucky enough to catch Real Estate's opening slot for Kurt Vile a year and a half ago found out quickly that the quintet require nothing less than an attentive and engaged audience. Their return to the capital, complete with headliner upgrade, now gave fans a proper chance to digest the New Jersey band's warm sound wash.

Still glowing from the success of the music video for "Thick as Thieves," which is closing in on a million views, Ottawa's Kalle Mattson opened the night with a confident and caffeinated performance. Still shaky from a recent lineup shift, frontman Kalle Wainio held things together nicely, coming off a bit more singer-songwriter-esque than on their wonderfully fractured, Pavement-indebted debut.

Early birds were also treated to the music of the Babies, the side-project of Vivian Girls' songwriter/vocalist Cassie Ramone and Woods bassist Kevin Morby. The four-piece won over the beer-in-one-hand-smartphone-in-the-other crowd swiftly, delivering an incredibly tight set, sonically referencing NYC no wave, K Records twee and Thurston-hearts-Kim indie rock. Anchored by some truly inventive guitar mashing and simpatico melodies/anti-melodies, the duo of Ramone and Morby worked as an accurate warm-up to Real Estate's semi-detached live M.O.

Adorned in polyester and oversized frames, Real Estate entered the Mavericks stage calm and collected. Vocalist Martin Courtney spent the night looking especially stoic, transporting this business-first credo into gorgeous guitar picking and transcending vocal whisper. Keeping the kinetic energy running high, the band's mid-set performance of "It's Real" worked as a turning point, jolting the crowd into a cheering, dancing whirl while simultaneously leading to Real Estate's collar-loosening set enders that included breath-holding renditions of "Out of Tune" and "Municipality."

As Courtney thanked the audience for coming out, his long-time-coming smile spoke volumes on the connection a truly engrossed audience and genuine musicians can reach.

Courtesy of Todd Hamilton, you can watch a video from the show featuring Real Estate playing their song "Wonder Years" below.