Green Couch Productions have been hard at work lately, partnering with VIA Rail and CBC Radio 3 for Tracks on Tracks, taking music fans across the country on the rails. Starting from Vancouver, the music train will be heading east, picking people up along the way, and pulling in to Toronto just in time for NXNE.
Not only will the train be packed with music fans, but bands as well, playing acoustic sets on the train and a few electric platform shows in select towns. Green Couch hand picked a few bands to make the trip; Adaline, The Matinée, Portage & Main, Maurice, Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party, and The Belle Game, and listeners of CBC Radio 3 took part is a giant online poll to select the final three; Chris Ho, Shred Kelly and Sidney York. And if that wasn't enough, CBC Radio 3's own Grant Lawrence will be making the trip, broadcasting his show from the rails.
And to start things chugging along, they threw a fund raising launch party at the Electric Owl.
Kicking off the night was an acoustic set from The Matinée. Matt Layzell, Matt Rose, and Geoff Petrie atop stools started off with their usual opener, "L'Absinthe" and Layzell monologuing in the middle of the song about the story behind it, and their excitement for the train. The short set also included a few new songs, including "Young & Lazy", which had the band channelling some heartland-rock for an amazingly catchy song. After a couple more, including a cover of Ryan Adams' "Let It Ride", they brought their set to an end with the rollicking "Sweetwater", which is going to be a fantastic sing-along song for the train.
Next up was Good for Grapes, filling the stage with people, and instruments like horns and keys and an accordion. Despite being from Vancouver, they have a very Maritime-folk sound, with that clear Celtic influence. They began with an instrumental, an intense sonic assault, and they didn't let up for the rest of the set. Even though there wasn't much banter or talking, the young band had a fantastic energy on stage -- especially the accordion player, who couldn't stand still for a minute and was hollering the lyrics without a microphone. While the set felt like it may have gone on a little long, it was still highly enjoyable and their enthusiasm was very infectious.
And wrapping up the night, Portage & Main, another band will be making the trip on the train, and were visibly excited for it. They kicked off the high energy set with the opening two songs from their self titled debut, "Nothing" and "What Have I Done?", and were firing on all cylinders from the beginning. It's hard to imagine they've only been a band for a year, as John Sponarski and Harold Donnelly have such a great chemistry together, playing off each other (both musically and personality-wise) perfectly.
One of the highlights of the set was definitely "Sweet Darling", a fantastically intense and raw dirty blues-rocker, and they wrapped up the night with their usual set-enders; first "I'd Never Climbed a Mountain", which starts soft and builds to a great intense ending, followed by the bar-room sing-along "Carolina".
If this night was any indication, the train trip is going to be a hell of a ride.
If you want to help support Green Couch, you can do so at their IndieGoGo page; donations will grant you everything from a simple "thanks" to t-shirt to postcards from the road to associate producer credits for the film.
And, most exciting of all, if you're not on the train you'll be able to live vicariously through this blog. Because I will be. And I'm sure I'll be bringing updates from the rails, whenever possible.