The progression of a band is hard to “rate” or “describe”. Is it purely based off of dollars made from album sales? Is it based off of the number of fans? Is the music itself the only aspect? For me, the progression of a band is best seen live. The progression I have witnessed firsthand with the Montreal based group Plants and Animals has been a long and enjoyable journey. The first time I saw them it was at Bumbershoot in Seattle a few years back. They were the first band, playing on day one, on a smaller stage. The next time I saw them, they were opening for another band at The Vogue here in Vancouver. Then I saw them headline a show at The Commodore. Once again the group is back on tour. This tour has brought them back to the stage at The Commodore, and just like many times before, I was in the crowd and ready to be impressed.
Being that it was day 1 of the always entertaining Movember, I was in a great mood all day leading up to the show. With Plants and Animals’ latest album, The End of That, playing on repeat in my office, my anticipation of seeing this talented 3-piece from La Belle Province was growing. Like I just told a friend who missed the show “they get better EVERY time I see them live”. I meant every word of that statement.
Keeping with an ongoing trend, the band set up most of their gear on their own. I remember the look on a girl’s face when I told her that the guy plugging in the pedals right in front of her was actually not a roadie, but in fact guitarist Nicolas Basque. Once they were all done setting up, the band left the stage for a moment, emerged with a few beers in hand then got right into the set.
When some bands have a new album out and are touring in support of it, they open the show with some new songs. Not Plants & Animals. They started their set off with a crowd pleasing Bye, Bye, Bye. Doing this got the crowd into the show right away. The sing-along nature of the chorus got the energy level up to a high right out of the gates. I believe the old adage goes something like “life ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon”. The band disregarded that and came out full speed and didn’t slow down all night. Well, they kinda did “slow it down” for a few tracks. Regardless, the band knows how to get a crowd excited and they had us hooked right away.
After a few of the mentioned slower songs, Plants & Animals picked the energy back up by playing Good Friend off of the album Parc Avenue followed by Crisis off of their latest disc. This blend of old and new continued all night long. They even managed to sprinkle in a few covers. One in particular will be a memory for everyone in attendance at this show. During a superb rendition of Into The Mystic by Van Morrison, one concertgoer in the front row got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes. This loving moment caught the attention of the band and they got us all to join in and congratulate the happy couple.
It had old songs. It had new songs. It had covers. It had a new band member on bass. It had a marriage proposal. It had a sweet fucking drum solo in the encore. Dare I say this Plants & Animals show had it all? If not yes, then it was pretty damn close. Being able to see how the band has grown over the years has been a blessing. I am a very proud Canadian, and it makes me proud to tell people about this great Canadian band. Seeing where they are now as a band, I can only sit and anticipate the next time they come to Vancouver. Who knows, they might be playing an invite only set at the couple in the front row’s wedding. If that is the case, I’ll dust off my suit and get my Vince Vaughn swagger on.