Shows at Mercury Lounge are a tricky affair. According to the signs that hang around the venue, packing 200 plus into the venue is a fire hazard, so with such a comparatively small crowd, performances generally become an intimate affair with very little separating the audience from the performers. By that same note, if you've ever been to the Merc, then you know how crowded "intimate" can seem...especially given that our hometown audiences can become notoriously restless and chatty. Such was the scene last night...a shame given that Montreal psych-rockers Plans and Animals put on an excellent display of jam-band fun and considerable guitar mastery. Some how, some way, some amorphous factor kept the audience from ever really completely engaging with the show. Boo...
Perhaps the audience's restlessness could be attributed to the opening act, This Is the Kit. The British folk duo is lead by Kate Stables, who has a beautiful voice. Her use of banjo along side more traditional instruments made for a low-key, acoustic affair, which on this night, failed to excite the crowd. It didn't help that the duo chose to play several, long instrumental interludes as well; the kind of craft better suited for couches and contemplation, rather than the live environment of The Mercury Lounge.
For their part, Plants and Animals took the stage at 11, churning out an hour plus for general, A.D.D.'d gathering. With four LPs to their name, the band were able to draw from a wide selection of great tracks to play. Lead singer Warren Spicer orchestrated an impressive set as well. In addition to singing and playing rhythm guitar, he also handled keyboard duties and toyed around with a decent selection of effects pedals to create an enveloping sonic atmosphere. How was the crowd not digging this? There was also a natural stage chemistry between Spicer and lead guitarist Nicolas Basque. The two seemed to feed off each other's energy, increasing the raw sexuality and machismo of the music Plants and Animals doll out. The band shined most though during their extended Grateful Dead-esque jam sessions. It's here where Basque blew me away with his fret-flying solos and grooveable rhythms. Moments like these were the only time the audience seemed to get it...as if they needed the band to show them how to let their hair down and just rock out for a little bit. Here's hoping the rest of their tour isn't hard as the gig they played last night. Sometimes this city just doesn't get it.
Plants and Animals' The End of That is available now. Check out how groovy these guys get on the title track/video below.
The band also stopped by The Guest Apartment way back when. Have a look at the video below.