Monday, March 24, 2008

Caribou Concert Review La Tulipe

I have two favourite bands. One is the Jimmy Swift Band of Halifax Nova Scotia, a band that has defined a new genre called rocktronica. Well, actually, Pink Floyd is rocktronica too – a melding of good old solid rock and electronica. To me, the sound is transcendent.

The same can be said of my second favourite band, Caribou, fronted by David Snaith of Dundas, Ontario. Formerly, the band was called Manitoba (even the term “band” is a bit of a misnomer, since it seems to have been simply Snaith). Snaith’s music is electronic psychedellia – a little kraut rock added, perhaps. His soft pitched voice is simply one more instrument among the others he combines to create music that is both intricate and addictive. However, backed with a full band, Caribou sounds heavier, funkier, a little bit earthier than Snaith alone. Which is not to say that any of the psychedelic dreaminess is lost by the inclusions of others. This band is an acid trip, a chance to connect with the divinity of all men, a oneness in the universe. In other words, this band is my other favourite band.

Carbiou’s show at La Tulipe was riveting. How could it not be? Any time you put two drummers head to head and have them play complicated rhythms in sync, it’s going to be impressive. The bigness of the drum sound together and its execution is just… special. Worthy of praise beyond praise. Snaith and his band switch off to pull in a melodica, a recorder, a xylophone, and a few ambient noises like dog barks to add complexity. Songs played came from across most of the records released, each delivered with flawless awe. Personal favourites are Bees, Melody Day, and well… all of them really. The rapport among the band members is evident and their joy is visible.

The band was bathed in a changing pattern of geometrics and colors flashed behind them on a screen. This light show, which I believe is a computer projection off the balcony, compensates for the one thing the band doesn’t have – audience rapport. While playing, the band is completely engrossed in the music (with good reason – this is complicated stuff). One song quickly switches to the next, with no introduction or context. Snaith mumbles a word of thanks and waves his appreciation; one senses his gratitude, but also his timidity. Caribou’s performance is a spectacle of light and sound and the excellence of these two things it what causes the transcendent feeling. It is not an active seduction the audience. I do not feel enticed or personally connected with the performers. I am rather just meant to absorb their excellence. Not that I am complaining.

Best touring to you, Caribou, my second favourite band. May you return quickly.

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