This early show at the underground, cave-like Guilt & Co. was pushed back a hair due to a small audience. When I walked in, there was exactly one table seated and enjoying dinner. Shortly though, people began to trickle in, and the room was quite well-stocked by the time Ottawa-based Kalle Mattson and his two bandmates hit the stage. Three guitars lined the back of the small stage, and a trumpet plus some various gadgets sat in the darkness to one side. I had another concert photo call to make shortly, so was unable to stay for very long, but the 25 minutes or so I spent watching this set were quite enjoyable, and I found myself wishing I had the time to stick around for the whole thing. Mattson’s quiet entrance set the tone. He is good-naturedly self-effacing, and this goes over well with the audience, eliciting a chuckle from those watching. “Hopefully we won’t make you fall asleep or make you too depressed,” he said as he began his first song. He informed us he would play some new songs and some old stuff, and then acknowledged that the information probably only applied to about 2 of the audience members.
Mattson’s tunes are gentle singer-songwriter songs that belong in a fire-warmed cabin on a cold night, or an old truck barreling down a lonely highway. Soon he told us that he remembered being in Vancouver before, but he couldn’t remember where he played. “This just got shitty… sorry… I broke my guitar case while I was here. Well, this just got shittier.” He told us of his new album, Avalanche, that has recently been released. “It’s got my face on it. That’s called marketing… I guess.” Just as I was getting ready to head off to my next call, he popped a harmonica in a holder over his neck. “Just thought I would add to the cliché here. I bet you’ve never seen a white guy with a harmonica and an acoustic guitar singing sad songs about himself before. Here’s another happy song about death!” There was some tale in here about a ‘filler’ date in Revelstoke where Mattson had decided to dedicate every song to a movie star and somehow messed up Nicholas Cage and Will Smith. As I headed for the door, a conversation was evolving when someone in the audience yelled something to the effect of *Neil Young, Shmeil Young* in reference to the fact that Young was also playing a show the same night. Mattson stopped his song prep to say,”Yeah, I just heard about this… Neil Young and Patrick Watson are both playing shows tonight in Vancouver. I don’t know what you guys are doing here.” It was a busy night in town for singer-songwriter fans to be sure. I walked out the door on my way to that Patrick Watson show to hear an small explosion of excitement when a bunch of Soo (Sault Ste. Marie) fans piped up responding to Mattson mentioning that is where he was originally from. The songs were sweet and the addition of a horn on stage was fairly unique for a tuned-down acoustic set. It was perfect music for the room. I am looking forward to further things from this fellow.