Archive for the ‘Live Reviews’ Category


Sleepless Nights, Rah Rah and Mt. Royal, May 29th, 2009



I’ve seen my share of great bands put on incredible shows on the stage at the Capital, from touring bands (The Dudes, Great Lake Swimmers) to more local acts (Kestrels, Smothered In Hugs) but nothing has ever topped the experiences I have had witnessing the Sleepless Nights. Joined by Regina’s Rah Rah and Mt. Royal from Medicine Hat, the Sleepless Nights graced the stage of the Capital once again last night as a stop on their cross-country tour with Rah Rah.

Taking the stage first, Mt. Royal demonstrated the reason I keep hearing their name. Playing a unique brand of Constantines-meets-Crystal Antlers rock, they kept the growing audience captivated with their energy and rather than easing us into the night with gradual intensity, they hammered their instruments and set the bar for Rah Rah and Sleepless Nights to try and match.

After witnessing Sylvie play the Capital a few months back, I had high hopes that Rah Rah (who share members with Sylvie) would meet or exceed the intensity displayed by their sister band. Needless to say I was not disappointed as the six member collective blasted through songs from their album, Going Steady. They kept things interesting with instrument and vocal duty swaps and a surprise confetti blast that covered the floor in glittery debris.

Playing a combination of new material, old classics and Turn Into Vapor staples, the Sleepless Nights demonstrated once again why they are one of the best bands from the region. Sweat poured as recently recruited guitarist Philip Clark brought the energy of his one man electronic band A/V from the floor of the Capital to the stage, and eventually on top of the railings, while singer/guitarist A.A. Wallace ripped up the solo on “Got Caught”. The band was joined by the members of Rah Rah for a climactic finale to the sing-a-long-able Turn Into Vapor highlight and closer, “Breathe Deep Tornado” that ended the night.

Good luck to all three bands on the remainder of their tours, hope to see you back here again soon.

Pictures from the show can be found here, and links to the bands’ respective MySpace pages are below.

Mt. Royal

Rah Rah

Sleepless Nights


Constantines and the Weakerthans, March 23rd, 2009



Stunning show. Not much to say other than The Weakerthans should never try to follow the Constantines, it makes them look bad. Took some pictures.


Mardeen and Smothered In Hugs, March 19th, 2009



Mardeen returned to the Capital Bar accompanied by Charlottetown pop rockers Smothered In Hugs on Thursday, March 19th. Starting the show was 11 Afternoons Early, a local hard rock trio featuring drummer turned songwriter James Tanner and Jai Sadler, bassist for We, the Undersigned. Afternoons captivated the relatively small audience with their unique mix of progressive rock riffs and pop melodies/vocals. Echoing the “loud, quiet, loud” element that characterized the music of the Pixies in the late 80s, 11 Afternoons Early sandwiched heavy riffs with softer rock jams, and vice versa.

Mardeen tour mates Smothered In Hugs took the stage shortly after with their unique sound and energetic vibe. Starting with an unbelievably exuberant instrumental that left me in awe, the band rarely let their energy die down throughout their whole set. While Smothered In Hugs’ music was fresh, exciting and catchy, it was their stage presence and distinctive décor that made them truly memorable. Featuring colorful uniforms donned with exclamation marks and a mysterious sixth band member whose sole job was to stand absolutely still with a bucket on their head, Smothered In Hugs was truly a tremendous sight to witness and hear.

Nova Scotia’s Mardeen took the stage with Read Less Minds highlight “City Lights” but quickly descended into a string of mediocre new songs that failed to capture the “it” factor that exists on practically every track from their debut. Further, the band’s stage presence was severely lacking, consisting of a few laughs between band members that alienated the audience and short, between song thank-yous. Admittedly, it was practically impossible to top Smothered In Hugs in that department but the lack of effort and a “let’s play through the set as fast as possible” attitude was disappointing. Throwing in crowd pleaser (and admittedly, their best song) “Telephones” temporarily dispersed the bad taste in my mouth but it quickly returned when the band refused to play an encore of even a single song despite the entire venue (Smothered In Hugs band members included) kindly requesting one through cheers and song requests. I was not surprised at this however, due to the exact same situation occurring back in September when Mardeen shared a stage with the Superfantastics and the Painted Birds (who were both extremely friendly to the audience on and off the stage). As a result of these two experiences, it seems to me that Mardeen have some kind of hate on for Fredericton audiences, perhaps due to the relatively low turnouts they have received both times I have seen them. Which, I suppose, is an expected response, but one that will certainly not grant them bigger audiences in the future.

Pictures from the show can be found here.


Smothered In Hugs
11 Afternoons Early


Save September, March 16th, 2009



Crissi Cochrane, known on the stage as Save September, delighted a small crowd at Crumbs Café here in Fredericton yesterday evening, showcasing her natural talent for singing and songwriting with a collection of intimate songs and a couple of thematically appropriate covers. While lacking the intricate guitar work of clear influence Mike Kinsella, the emotion she put into her songwriting and performance reflects the one time American Football singer/guitarist and Owen mastermind greatly. Crissi played flawlessly over the sometimes overwhelming noise of coffee machines and phone conversations and executed her songs about unrequited love and changing environments with an unexpected professionalism.

Evidently a fan of Ben Gibbard, Crissi threw in a couple beautiful covers. First, a cover of the Iron & Wine version of the Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” followed soon after by Death Cab for Cutie tearjerker “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”. Readers, do yourself a favor and check out Save September on one of her upcoming Nova Scotian dates, or pray that she graces Fredericton once again because her MySpace recordings fail to do justice to her gorgeous singing voice.

Save September Dates:

March 26, 2009 – The Company House (2202 Gottingen Street) – $6
with Dave MacMicheal, Stone Mary, and more. Fundraiser for Brigadoon, a children’s camp.
March 27, 2009 – House Show (exclusive) – Herring Cove – $10 advance, $15 door
with Megan Nash, and Bethany Fulde
March 29, 2009 – House Show and VEGAN POTLUCK at Cinthia, Ryan and Crissi’s House (2536 Windsor Street, Apt. #3 – the top of the stairs in the back). With Laura Merrimen – $10 ($5 if you bring a vegan dish!)
Dinner starts at 6:00pm!


Save September



Kestrels and The Names and Faces, February 6th, 2009



Last night the Capital Bar was treated with a stellar performance by Truro, Nova Scotia band Kestrels, supporting local folk-rock quintet The Names and Faces. Kestrels’ unique meld of pop and shoegaze creates a conflicting atmosphere of catchy hooks and a wall of noise that translates into pop perfection. Although not enough to “melt your face”, to quote an enthusiastic show goer, Kestrel’s wall of sound definitely left your ears ringing while simultaneously had you tapping your foot and bobbing your head. The tease of “Enter Sandman” and amusing between song banter added to the enjoyment of the set, although I failed to decipher the lyrics to the song “based on the hit sitcom The Office” for the second time. I luckily managed to pick up a copy of the band’s 7”, containing “Seaside” and the B-Side, “On Our Time”, before they left to drive back to Nova Scotia.

Fredericton’s own folk-rock superstars, The Names and Faces took the stage to a slowly dwindling crowd but played determinedly through their excellent set. Astronomically opposite of Kestrel’s effect ridden guitar tones, the Names and Faces merge the folk qualities of full-band Bright Eyes with A.M. era Wilco resulting in a perfect follow up to Kestrals. Unfortunately to those who left early and missed the final songs of the set, they missed the two best.

Look out for Kestrel’s full length, currently being finished up by the band and Seth Smith from Dog Day. The Names and Faces are also working on their full length. Eager to hear both!

Pictures from the show here.

Help Kestrels out by emailing CBC Radio 3 ( and letting them know how spectacular “Seaside” by Kestrels is!