Reviews:: Cary Brothers / Stars of Track & Field / Mother Mother :: @ Richards on Richards

Last night at Richards the venue was filled with preconceptions, and most of them were wrong. A relatively small turnout showed up for Mother Mother's first local show in forever. And so began my errant preconceptions. When Mother Mother played their CD release show, I thought they were about to explode. Their record was out on Last Gang and the songs are great. More importantly, they don't sound like anyone else. Three part harmonies, banging drums, art-school rockers, hip hop back beats; this band uses all of those elements and more. They are a crazy hybrid of bluegrass, punk, indie rock, and funk.

So naturally, I expected more people to be there cheering them on. Sadly, the dance floor was only sort-of-filled. There isn't much I can say about the band that is any different from last show, except the venue and the performance were much better. They tore through a 40-minute, high energy set an threw in three new songs that hint the next record is going to be just as good. Some of the standouts were Polynesia, Touch Up, and Dirty Town, but the energy was high for the whole set. The performance seemed a bit tighter than last time I saw them; especially with the choreographed dance moves. Debra Jean and Molly really seemed more comfortable belting it out, but the biggest eye-opener for me was how talented the drummer was. Kenton really kept the songs together as he attacked the skins like they were a dance floor on ladies night.

Stars of Track & Field were up next, I can admit I've never paid this band ANY attention. I'm pretty sure Tyler told me to check them out, but I never did. I think I assumed they were generic indie rock and never bothered (same label as Evanescene and Finger 11 - strike 1: generic Coldplay and Radiohead comparisons - strike 2). So when Jason Bell and Kevin Calaba came out with matching shag haircuts, shirts and some sort of ascot thing going on, I was quite ready to pass on them again. Surprisingly, their set commanded my attention.

The three-piece (no bass) actually created some very digestable, but still noise-filled textures and big guitar riffs that suited their vocal style. After seeing a 5-piece, three voice explosion like Mother Mother, it says a lot that these guys sounded fuller. The electronic bass lines and double guitars sounded good. I'm not sure how it transfers to CD (and I'm sure it would very easy to play spot the influences with these guys), but for the 45 minutes or so they played, I was actually impressed by how well they built up from a soft whisper to a shout. When an opening band you've never listened to can keep you interested, I think it says something.

Cary Brothers was up next. His is probably the biggest preconception of all. Let's get it out of the way early. Zach Braff has championed this guy and used his songs on some of his projects (most obvious Garden State). I think as a result, everyone expects Cary to be some pomppous, rich singer / song writer, writing cheesy hits for movies and TV. The truth is actualy almost the complete opposite. He seems like a geuine guy, and made mention that he's happy to see anyone show up. He's touring the hell out of his record tryiing to show people he's not one song.

Well, last night, he converted a few Vancouverites. More people stayed around after Mother Mother than I expected so the floor at Richards was more than a few scattered fans. Cary and his band played a nice set - throwing in tracks from the album and his EPs, but more importantly, they really looked to be having fun. The energy kept it from being another sleepy acosutic set, as the piano and electric guitar helped break up the sad ones. Some of the best songs included Jealousy and If You Were Here, but the band sounded tight throughout the whole show.

He even debuted a song called Canada - that he had never played with a band live before, which was a nice treat. When he came back for his encore, he was surprised but grateful for the support and gave us a nice treat - a stripped down, solo cover of Westerberg's Skyway. All in all, I don't think there is anything I would have wanted to be different last night. Not a bad Monday at all. Here are some photos and two bad sounding MP3s. Enjoy!

MP3:: If You Were Here (cut) - Cary Brothers live
MP3:: Canada - Cary Brothers live

All photos by Nic - note to Richard's. The smoke machine vibe is done. Please stop shooting smoke into the air every twenty seconds. It ruins most of the pics.

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