Sloan / Rural Alberta Advantage / Ohbijou Great Hall, Toronto ON December 21
Published Dec 21, 2011Steeped in tradition, the holidays have a comforting predictability and the idea of playing a beloved record from 1996 -- in this case, One Chord to Another -- dovetails nicely with that December feeling. Still, Sloan did more than just cover, um, Sloan.
Organized by Fucked Up as a fundraiser for COUNTERfit Harm Reduction Program and the Barriere Lake Legal Defense Fund, the show was the second of two (night one featured the curators playing David Comes to Life) and offered a mixed-bag lineup (Bonjay, Ohbijou, Rural Alberta Advantage and Sloan).
While Ohbijou's occasionally ethereal canon wasn't ideal for the sound-stealing Great Hall, singer Casey Mecija pushed her voice above the din to dramatic effect and robust strings held up nicely.
Dealing well with the confines, Rural Alberta Advantage opted for speed, ditching the ballads (i.e., "Good Night") and scoring with big numbers, especially "Tornado '87," a towering "Frank, AB," a quick and apropos "Little Drummer Boy," and a stomping "Stamp." Of course, it never hurts to have a superstar drummer like Paul Banwatt behind the kit.
No strangers to the venue -- Chris Murphy is an integral part of in-house dance party, Loving in the Name Of -- the headliners had little trouble with the sound, even from the outset with a pristine "The Good in Everyone."
Played live, in order, One Chord to Another has a gig-ready syntax, starting grand ("The Good in Everyone"), playfully swaggering ("Everything You've Done Wrong"), cooling off ("Junior Panthers"), and amping up ("Anyone Who's Anyone") in all of the right places. As a de facto set list, it's inherently strong.
Furthermore, fleshed out as a five-piece and occasionally joined by a three-part horn section, the combo added subtle nuances to their pack of familiar tracks. "Everything You've Done Wrong" benefitted from the live brass, becoming an elastic romper and "Take the Bench" was a sunny-day charmer.
Fucked Up's Damian Abraham appeared to duet with Chris Murphy on a weirdly effective -- albeit unsurprisingly rousing -- take on Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" while Feist -- you've heard of her -- added guitar to a floor-shaking rendition of "She Means What She Says." A sing-along affair delivered with grinning charisma, it was a rousing gig born of nostalgia but not entirely dependent on it.