Welcome to an extremely eclectic night of music at the Habitat in Kelowna, BC Canada. To be entirely honest I had no real expectations going into this concert. I was only familiar with two of the three acts. When I say familiar I actually mean recently introduced.
The show opened with Winter Provincial, roughly about an hour after the doors opened. The duo is always a safe bet to warm up a local audience. Matthew and Torrey are “hometown” boys who like to sing about booze and animals. Hey, before you judge them they sound really good doing so and at most points in their set you forget some of their lyrics are about hammer head sharks. This particular opening set was performed mostly solo by Matthew Blancher, due to Torry breaking a guitar string. No extra strings or guitars boys? The local duo could not have got me prepared for the upcoming act though. The two mentioned the next act called Bad Uncle were pretty weird, but in a good way. Boy they were right.
Hey do you like songs about necrophilia? How about polka? What about rockabilly? If you checked all of above then you are in the right place my friends. Bad Uncle launched into an extremely engaging set lead by the highly spirited frontman Lalonde Santosh on the ol squeeze box. Picture a bearded Krist Novoselic in a full suit and baseball cap with an accordion. Rumour has it Lalonde lurched these very regions of the Okanagan before heading east to Montreal to work on his unique sound. Bad Uncle was the one act that I had no idea what to expect going in and they absolutely killed it. Despite most of their lyrics being about necrophilia, one would never notice because you are far too busy dancing your face off.
Did you know Ben Caplan has a rather large beard? Were you also aware his voice often gets compared to Tom Waits? Well now that we cleared that vital information up I can continue this review without mentioning the apparent. I was a tad bit concerned for Ben as he strolled onto a nearly empty stage unaccompanied. Bad Uncle had the front stage overflowing with dancers and oglers for their set in this very intimate venue. For Ben it must have felt like showing up to a party the next morning and finding only the carnage left over. When I noticed Ben was performing solo without his Casual Smokers I figured this order of acts might not play out right. Ben was quite charismatic and alternated between keyboard and guitar throughout his set. It was definitely a treat to see him perform so exposed in this intimate setting; however I believe the crowd was running a bit on empty at this point. Ben tried his best to engage the audience, gargling through gnarly tunes like “Down to the Water”, “Southbound”, and “Drift Apart”. There was sensitivity in the air the crowd was fading, so Ben decided some audience participation was in order as he started a sing along to “Conduit”. This went over well and got a portion of the audience out of their seats and to the front. The set was capped off with a melancholy version of “Stranger” with his trademark spasmodic smash of the final notes on the keys.
This was truly an eclectic night I will not soon forget. Maybe it’s better to go into shows with no expectations?