Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side was full of Canucks last night as the Canadian Blast showcase infiltrated the tiny venue. Five bands almost all the way across Canada took part, with the first two representing for Price Edward Island and Quebec.
PEI’s Two Hours Traffic opened the night, and after seeing them three times previously, I was anxiously anticipating hearing a) the new songs and b) the new lineup. The newly jiggered lineup seemed to already be a well-oiled machine, cracking out older tracks flawlessly and introducing new tracks “Audrey” and “Amour Than Amis” without missing a beat. They finished the set with the first track, called “Magic,” off of their upcoming album—I could not keep the smile from my face as they launched into a ridiculously catchy chorus backed by a guitar line reminiscent of something you’d hear on Little Jabs. If these first three tracks are anything to go by, their new album promises to be a keeper.
Elephant Stone was next on the docket and certainly caught everyone’s attention with the stage setup alone. A separate mini-stage was set up on the main stage to lead singer Rishi Dhir when he decided to launch into one of his signature sitar solos, while a blanket covered the area around Dhir’s mic as he played his bass barefoot. The set ended up being a bit more instrumental than lyrical, which while not necessarily what I was expecting, gave each individual musician a chance to show his chops. And they were some pretty good chops. The crowd was into it too: “More sitar!” they cried, followed by “I like what you’re doing!”
Canadian Blast offered some insight into what our musical neighbors to the north are getting up to, and if we’ve learned anything at all from this, it’s that you can never have enough sitar.
Photos by Jim Garcia