Michael Carney Canadian beardsmen the Sheepdogs are riding high again. Their…
- Posted on Sep 14th 2011 11:15AM by Jason MacNeil
Rock It Promo
Although headlined by Montreal rockers Sam Roberts Band -- who came with a saxophonist who looked eerily like INXS' Kirk Pengilly circa 'Kick' -- prairie boys the Sheepdogs seemed to be the band to watch on this night, which, of course, surely had nothing to with the hype around their recent Rolling Stone cover.
The Saskatchewan natives have carved a Skynyrd-tinged Southern rock path to success, something exemplified early and often over their 40-minute, second-to-last slot. Led by singer Ewan Currie, who vocally resembles a young Burton Cummings, the quartet ran through much of 2010's 'Learn and Burn,' their set made all the more enthralling by the physical theatrics of guitarist Leot Hanson. Highlights from the Sheepdogs included 'The One You Belong To,' the mellow 'I Don't Get By' and the aptly named 'Southern Dreaming.'
Synth-pop star Lights may have felt slightly out of her element given the rock vibe underling the evening, but with a new album, 'Siberia,' on the horizon, she seemed determined to make her mark. Though the dance-y new single 'Toes' was met with moderate applause, Lights inspired more than a few to take to the dance floor with her arsenal of electro-pop tunes, including set staples 'Saviour' and 'Ice.' The Toronto musician even threw in an unexpected acoustic rendition of Bjork's 'State of Emergency' to win over the invite-only crowd.
This night also marked the live debut of Whitehorse, the duo of hubby and wife Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, who got into the TIFF spirit by kicking off their set with a cute film intro, which saw the pair in a bathroom getting ready to go out to the show, before launching into 'Eulogy for Whiskers, I' and 'Killing Time Is Murder.'
"You know this song, you probably got a hickey to this song say in 1988," Doucet said prior to Whitehorse covering Bruce Springsteen's 'I'm on Fire.' With a few more albums, the couple could be Canada's answer to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings if 'Passenger 24' and 'Emerald Isle' are early indications.
As for Sam Roberts Band, the group opened with 'I Feel You' as the denim-clad frontman worked the stage (and audience) effortlessly. 'Fixed to Ruin' and the boogie-laced 'Detroit '67' had their desired effect while the groovier 'Let It In' briefly changed up the pace. However other signatures from their earlier days meshed well with the material off his latest album, 'Collider.'
The third and final part of TIFF's Fesival Music House happens Wednesday night (Sept. 14) with Arkells headlining. Should be a fine finish.