Plants and Animals @ The Rickshaw Theatre, March 21, 2012
In an effort to shorten up my blog posts a little bit, I was going to attempt to write a short, concise yet detailed review of the outstanding show Plants and Animals, along with opener Little Scream, put on for the jubilant Vancouver crowd at the Rickshaw Theatre.
The attempt was made, but I couldn’t keep this sucker under 500 words—let alone 800. A preemptive “my bad” for you all.
As dinner at The Foundation on Main St. ran a little longer than expected, including a pitcher of beer more than expected, my lady companions and I were a wee tardy to the party. As we got into the Rickshaw Theatre off the always-sketchy Hastings Street, the riveting Little Scream from Montréal was captivating the audience with SG riffs and bass flute flutters. In fact, I haven’t heard flute used so effectively (or at all) in a rock outfit since Jethro Tull.
We missed most of their set, unfortunately, only experiencing 3 tunes or so. The experience was exactly that: an experience. I’m decidedly undecided what to make of this band, which just means I’ll have to give them some more aural time.
Grabbing a Pabst Blue Ribbon in between sets to complete the hipster appeal, I return to find my lady couterparts chatting up Dan Mangan. Can you blame them? When opportunity knocks, as the saying goes. After a quick chat with Mr. Mangan, we were all set for the main event. Grabbing my new camera that I still don’t know how to use properly, I’m all set to take some poor quality shots of Warren C. Spicer and the rest of the fellows from Plants and Animals.
They hit it off with Song For Love, one of the many brilliant tracks from the equally brilliant new album, The End of That. Killer!
Next up was Feedback in the Field, the rockin’, whistlin’ tune from debut Parc Avenue. From there, they slayed** 3 straight tunes from the new album: Crisis!, Before, and Runaways. I was hypnotized by the extended, trippy jam that became of Before. It was one of the highlights of the evening, without a doubt.
Plants and Animals threw myself—and perhaps others—a bit of a curve ball with the next track, playing a tune I had never heard before. Assuming the song was off their 2009 EP, With/Avec which I haven’t listened to, I jotted down the lyrics “Work it out”, and later discovered the tune is called Lola Who?.
6 songs into the set and still no sign of any tracks off of La La Land. Until song 7: The Mama Papa.
[Truth time: I've never really liked The Mama Papa. It was my introduction to P&A and I found it to be more of a deterrent to investigate their catalogue than anything. Thankfully, it wasn't an effective deterrent. And in all honesty, the song really kills live!]
The only other tracks off the underrated La La Land were Game Shows and Undone Melody, which, again, both absolutely slayed. Each track was effectively drawn out into a spell-binding jam, the former of which introduced the crowd to Spicer’s enviable key skills.
Rounding out the set were 3 other tunes from the latest album: No Idea, Lightshow and Control Me. All three tunes sounded even better than I could have imagined live; No Idea being another keyboard special, and Control Me being a live performance debut. Super cool.
The boys finished off the set with their defining track Bye Bye Bye. It was near perfection being their “last” song, however, they returned for the inevitable encore. They kicked off the encore with Why & Why which was a lot of fun.
The last track was introduced by Warren: “I did a phone interview today,” he explained, “I think it was for the Edmonton Journal or something, but the guy asked me what the band’s favourite song to play live was, and I said ‘Shit man, I don’t know, probably this song.’ It’s called Faerie Dance.” [If you haven't read my interview with Warren C. Spicer, then I'll just let you know that either both the Edmonton Journal and myself asked him the exact same question or I got a disguised shout out. I'll take it, either way!]
And I now understand why Faerie Dance is their favourite to play live. As Warren described in the interview, it’s spontaneous and evolving, mesmerizing and captivating. A terrific end to an even terrific-er night.
Downside: I really, really, REALLY was hoping to hear The End of That and New Kind of Love. I would have exchanged a couple tunes in the set for those two, and this being the ONLY disappointment of the night for me.
If Plants and Animals are coming through your neighbourhood on this tour, I urge you not to miss their show. They’re in Edmonton on March 27, Calgary on the 28th, and Saskatoon on the 29th. Check here for more dates!
** – I’m aware the past tense of ‘slay’ is ‘slew’. It just sounds so lame compared to ‘slayed’.