Flashback to two years ago -- almost to the day. I was at the Media Club to see PEI's Paper Lions as they came through town, and I remember looking around at the modest crowd and being so angry. This is a band that way more people need to see live! I thought. Cut to this past weekend, as they rolled through town again, still touring strong on their 2013 album My Friends, this time to a packed and sold out club.
Opening the night was Djavin Bowen and the Uproar. Maybe. Despite the promo material saying Lonesome North, lead singer Djavin Bowen introduced themselves as such, and even hinted it was a temporary name. Whatever they are called, the seven-piece included members of Young Pacific and other local bands, and even a trumpeteer -- whose tuxedo was in contrast to the rest of the bands' t-shirts and denim -- to fill out their sound.
With a high energy, their songs were filled with an indie pop vibe, occasionally sauntered into folk territory, and had some catchy songs; a few that were definitely made to sing along to, and an ambitious cover of Arcade Fire's "Sprawl II" that broke down into some folksy harmonies at the end.
The set was a little rough, perhaps because they are a fairly new band, but is was not bad. Not great either, but someone to keep an ear out for in the future (if you can figure out what they're called).
Not long after it was time for Paper Lions, starting with lead singer John MacPhee taking the stage alone, with a drum machine pumping out the beats to "Bodies In Winter" as the rest of the band burst in mid-song. From there they hit the gas on their incredibly infectious indie rock, spanning from old favourites like "Sweat It Out", that had the crowd appropriately yelling along with the chorus, "I'll sweat it out from nine to five, to sweat it out on Friday night", to a rockin' song from their newest EP, Acquaintances, called "Do You Wanna".
Songs ranged from the softer, harmony-laden "Ghostwriters" to the all-out-rocket "Strawberry Man", which goes all the way back to their time as the Chucky Danger Band. The latter they may have even broke some strings -- or worse -- as the band had to quickly duck off stage to fix it while John told the story about the video for their next song, "Travellin'".
After one of my favourites, the ferociously catchy "Lost The War", they wrapped up the main set with "My Friend", John jumping into the crowd at the end to proclaim each person in the crowd his friend, doling out hugs and high fives while singing.
But of course, they were not quite done as the encore began with drummer David Cyrus MacDonald exploding into a drum roll that would make "Wipeout" blush, as the band joined him for the fierce "So Lonely", and wrapped up the night with one of my favourites from the new album, "Sandcastles", leaving the crowd with the sentiment "We build sandcastles, knowing that they'd wash away"
Paper Lions are such a strong live band, the four members having incredible chemistry together on stage, with near-perfect harmonies, and put on one hell of a fun show. I'm already looking forward to the next time they're through town.
Bodies In Winter, Stay Here For Awhile, Sweat It Out, Philadelphia, Don't Touch That Dial, Ghostwriters, Do You Wanna, Little Liar, Strawberry Man, Travellin', Lost the War, My Friend.
(encore) So Lonely, Sandcastles.