Canadian Music Festival: Two Hours Traffic, The Balconies and Rah Rah

Here’s a classic Two Hours Traffic song – and the final song they played for their show at CMF – called “Heroes of the Sidewalk”:


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What: CMF (expect this for the next couple of posts)
Who: Two Hours Traffic, The Balconies, Rah Rah
Where: Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor Street West
Price: Still that awesome wristband
Bonus: A drink in an empty Dance Cave, where the awesome DJ played my favourite song, Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (clichéd, I know)

Last Thursday was Day 2 (for me) of CMF, and this night was also tinged with my nostalgia for Two Hours Traffic. Hannah, Mink and I headed to Lee’s Palace for a more chill night than Wednesday, and it’s become a favourite venue of mine precisely for its easy, shabby ambiance. (Lee’s is kind of like that couch in your oldest friend’s basement that you know every groove in and stain on, and you’d be devastated if anyone ever threw that ugly thing away. And I say this with the utmost appreciation for that old couch. Even though I think it was kaput years ago.)

The Balconies

Photo courtesy of stickymagazine.com
Photo courtesy of stickymagazine.com

The lead singer of now-Toronto-based (and four-piece) The Balconies is one fierce-looking, sexy woman. I hadn’t heard them before last week, but her anime-sized eyes – not to mention her ear-piercing voice – will no doubt get this band some attention, wherever they go. Unfortunately, the sound was crazy loud at Lee’s Palace, which I suppose you’d expect from a rock concert, but I think my poor ears needed a break after the previous week’s Laidback Luke and Martin Solveig dance-athon.

And, as I’m streaming their Kill Count EP on their website, they seem a lot more accessible. Wish I’d had the chance to absorb these songs before seeing them in the flesh!

Live, The Balconies were more in-your-face, jagged, raggedy-rock than melodic indie rock, which this EP seems to be channeling for me. I give singer Jacquie Neville boundless credit for her energy up on stage (and sheer sex appeal, which front[wo]men are supposed to be famous for, non?), but I think I like the versions of the songs where I can actually hear her voice, since it’s beautiful.

Rah Rah

As mentioned above, we ventured upstairs to Dance Cave for a drink to get away from the overwhelming wall of sound being projected towards the audience below. When we returned to the main floor, Rah Rah was killing it on stage. They are a band from Regina, and they were cohesive, talented, and clearly enjoying themselves.

Just try to tell me they don’t look like Prairie kids who’re stoked that the snow’s finally gone in mid-May, but are still a little skeptical that there won’t be just one more blizzard to get in the way of their upcoming soccer season:

Photo courtesy of mtvhive.com
Photo courtesy of mtvhive.com

(Yeah, that’s probably the vibe they were aiming for.)

You can listen to songs from their new album, The Poet’s Dead, on their site if you’re so inclined. This video for “Prairie Girl” hits close to home, even though my 6 years of living in Winnipeg don’t really qualify me as one myself. (And the rabbit animation’s great!):


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Again, wish I’d had the chance to listen to this album prior to seeing them live, because this song is awesome. And something didn’t quite translate aurally for me while they were on stage, even though they were otherwise totally engaging and adorably barefoot and playing accordions and percussion on the walls. I like to know at least a few songs before seeing a band perform, I think that’s my issue. Next time, Rah Rah, I will be prepared!

In conclusion, they are totally a band I can see playing at SappyFest. Which is a compliment.

Two Hours Traffic

Photo courtesy of canadianblast.com
Photo courtesy of canadianblast.com

Speaking of bands playing in Sackville, NB! Two Hours Traffic may have undergone some changes in the past few years, including acquiring some new band members and producing awesome albums without even sending me a memo about them, but they will forever be in my heart as a George’s Fabulous Roadhouse band. This is likely because I saw them open for In-Flight Safety many a time at that venue. And we danced in front of that one-foot stage and loved their modest performances every time.

You can stream “Magic” and “Audrey” and “Amour Than Amis” (my favourite songs of the performance) and other songs from their new album, Foolish Blood, on their site. I admit that I hadn’t listened to THT in a rather long time, since they so connote undergrad for me and – let’s face it – that was a long time ago (am I aging myself here?).

But they still exude that ineffable PEI charm, and their songs always contain dangerously catchy hooks. It still looks like they’re having a good time up there, which is the most important thing. They also included a few old songs, including “Nighthawks” and “Stuck for the Summer” and “Sure Can Start,” and, as mentioned earlier, “Heroes of the Sidewalk,” a favourite of Mink’s.

I sauntered up to the stage afterward and asked eternally-adorable lead singer Liam Corcoran for the setlist, which he’d pulled out of his back pocket just before starting the show. He obliged without a second thought, distracted with unplugging microphone cords. An unassuming, crumpled setlist: looseleaf and sharpie. They don’t change their ways, these musicians – I think I have a THT setlist from about 2005 that looks essentially the same. I gave this one to Mink, of course, since she’s had a long-time love of this band.

I’m starting to think that the Canadian Music Festival should just be called Nostalgia Music Festival, since that’s what so many of these Canadian shows are for me. I love it though!

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