Hillside Inside reviews: Elliott Brood at River Run Centre – Feb. 1, 2013

A welcome Brood: Elliott Brood gets packed River Run Centre on its feet

Feb 7, 2013

Elliott Brood played the River Run Centre Feb. 1 as part of Hillside Inside 2013.

Elliott Brood played Guelph’s River Run Centre Feb. 1 as part of Hillside Inside 2013.

Elliott Brood doesn’t play many theatres.

Delivering a breed of alt-country that’s been appropriately dubbed “death country” for its deployment of a stripped down, no-frills folk-punk approach to performance that is a defining feature of the more extreme Norwegian subgenre of death metal bands, it’s understandable that the three-piece pointed out it was more acquainted with the sticky floors and gloom of the Toronto bar scene when it played the main hall at Guelph’s River Run Centre on Feb. 1. But that’s not to say the trio was entirely uncomfortable playing the theatre setting.

“It smells good in here,” singer and multi-instrumentalist Casey Laforet noted to the crowd in a lighthearted nod to the virtues of the comparatively sterile environment.

All joking aside, that Elliott Brood played the more spacious setting of the River Run Centre was no miscalculation in planning; just prior to their Hillside Inside performance, the group catered to two sold-out audiences at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto on Jan. 30 and 31.

The band’s not without its Guelph history, either. Between songs, the group also gave a shout out to local watering hole the Jimmy Jazz, where they said they played their first show outside of Toronto.

They also recalled a flash mob that broke out last summer during a Hillside performance of “If I Get Old” before delivering a slowed down variation of the 2011 single.

Despite having been faced with the unusual sight of a crowd that watched from well above their heads, the band didn’t shrink in discomfort. Urging the audience to make noise as they entered the stage (to which they were met with obliging howls), the band dove into a set including singles “Second Son,” “The Bridge” (dedicated to evening MC Vish Khanna), and a “cooperating ukulele” performance of “The Valley Town.”

“Oh, Alberta” had everyone on their feet, even if they were guilted into it (a fan shouted out the track title in between songs and the band asked him if he would be the first to stand up and clap along because of it). But it is hard to justify sitting down while watching Elliott Brood perform. Even if two of the group’s three members play with their behinds planted firmly in seats more comfortably padded than your own, it is easy to understand why; all members handle multiple instrumental duties – almost always simultaneously. In particular, Laforet plays guitar while filling in the low end with his feet – tapping bass pedals along with the chords.

The group also performed “Lindsay,” a cover of “Old Dan Tucker,” and the longing-but-joyous “Miss You Now.”

On Feb. 2, the band tweeted thanks to the crowds at their Guelph and Toronto performances for “a great send-off” to a European tour that will span Feb. 7-March 3.

Following the death country trio were Great Lake Swimmers (GLS).

With a turned down, atmospheric take on folk rock, GLS were perhaps more appropriately situated on the main stage at the River Run Centre, especially when they brought out members of the Suzuki String School of Guelph. The school – specially instructed for the evening by GLS fiddler Miranda Mulholland, who was once herself a student at the school – appeared throughout the set to perform “Quiet Your Mind,” “A Song for the Angels,” “The Knife,” “On the Water,” “Changing Colours,” and “Changes with the Wind,” among others.

The quintet ended its performance with an acoustic call and response rendition of “Still.”

(Originally published in The Ontarion on Feb. 7, 2013)

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About Tom Beedham

Tom Beedham is a Canadian writer and photographer based in Toronto, Ontario. His work focuses on independent culture, DIY communities, and their relationship to the mainstream, reporting on a spectrum of creatives that has ranged from emerging acts to the definitive voices of cultural movements. In addition to contributing regular features to AUX, Chart Attack, and VICE publications Noisey and THUMP, he has appeared on Daily VICE, and frequently reviews concerts, festivals, and new album releases for Canadian arts and culture monthly Exclaim!. He is also a co-organizer and curator of the seasonal inter-arts series Long Winter, for which he oversees an online blog and print newspaper-style publication, printed for distribution at each instalment of the event. He was also a DIY concert organizer in his hometown Georgetown, Ontario in the mid-2000s.

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