Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Ruffled Feathers w/ Julia McDougall @ Biltmore -- 03/07/13

It seems like it's been quite some time since I've seen either The Ruffled Feathers or Julia McDougall perform live, so it was nice that they 

Unfortunately I missed the first band of the night, Oldfolks Home, arriving shortly before Regina's Julia McDougall hit the stage. Julia formerly performed under the name Julia & Her Piano, so it was appropriate that it was just her & a piano on stage, with her smooth voice and folk-pop songs drawing the crowd up to sit on the floor at the front of the stage.

Aside from a collection of catchy songs, what really made her stand out was her sense of humour. She chatted with the crowd between songs, telling stories behind songs or just random non-sequiturs, with her banter being little goofy and awkward, but at the same time very charming and hilarious.

Highlights from the set included a couple tracks from her latest EP, I Don't Really Care; the beautiful title track, and "Married", which had Ruffled Feather Andrew Lee on stage to join her for backup vocals. Andrew and Julia have a history of performing together, which mostly consists of Julia doing her best to embarrass Andrew on stage. (She succeeded)

Julia is a fun performer to watch live, and I hope she's back again soon.

There was a fairly quick turnaround and it wasn't long before The Ruffled Feathers was up, easing into their set with "Your Embrace", starting soft and quiet before ramping up into a lush ending, a trait that is shared in many of their songs. 

Their rich, chamber-pop sound is driven by the sweet voice of guitarist Gina Loes on vocals, with trumpetite Andrew Lee and Charley Wu -- on mandolin and keyboard -- also contributing, with songs that aren't afraid to weave into other genres. "Lead Me To Destruction", which featured Charley on vocals, starting with a bit of a 50's do-wop vibe before erupting with energy, and one of the new songs they teased, called "Tough Love", had a bit of a jazzy edgy to it.

The main set came to an end with "Home", though as the guys walked off stage, Gina stayed, a little coy about the whole encore concept, and the rest of the band came back for the jubilant "Blueprints For Our Failed Revolution". They ended the night with not only the crowd to sing along, but shakers being passed out and the band marching into the crowd -- drummer Sam MacKinnon with a marching drum, Charley on accordion, and Gina with a megaphone -- for a short dance party before finishing off on stage. 

The whole band is bubbling over with energy, and that definitely comes through in their live show and infects the crowd. They played a couple and hinted at a new EP in the works, so hopefully we'll hear more from them soon. 

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