|16-Dec-2007 11:43 pm||Contributed by: pete||Concert Reviews|
Patrick Watson is not only the name of the Montreal-based experimental indie-pop band, but it also happens to be the name of the front man, Patrick Watson (vocals, piano). Ever since I discovered this detail, I've always wondered how Watson managed to get the band to agree that they should be collectively named after him. But hey, it's sort of interesting, so why not. In February, they were nominated in the category New Artist of the Year for the 2007 Juno Awards, and in September were announced as the winners of the 2007 Polaris Music Prize. It was the Polaris Prize ceremony that I first I heard Patrick Watson (both the band and the person) perform, and their two song set made a huge impression on me. Since then, I've purchased their latest CD Close To Paradise (released in 2006), and although it's a pretty good listen, it doesn't quite compare to what I heard from them on stage.
After seeing a full set at The Mod Club last Friday, that opinion still sticks. If I had to describe the band Patrick Watson in as few words as possible, I would say: Experimental indie-pop jam band. Huh? Yup. Watson uses his voice and instruments in unique ways, and the entire band follows by using their instruments in other interesting ways. Watson himself often sings with his vocals passing through a distortion pedal with amazing effects. He has a few other tricks as well, like hollering into the mic from a distance, which created extremely cool distant-sounding vocals. And he didn't stop there... near the end of the show, he opened the top of his baby grand piano to play the strings directly. At one point, Simon Angell could be seen playing his guitar by rubbing a balloon on the strings, again with very cool results. On drums was Robbie Kuster who I couldn't see directly from where I was standing, but I'm almost positive he was playing a Theremin at one point. And these are just a few examples. Along with Mishka Stein on bass, the band would occasionally wander off into experimental jam territory, often with surprising and wild results, although during a couple of the longer jams I found my mind wandering.
Patrick Watson played to a sold-out crowd at The Mod Club, apparently the first time the band has ever sold out a venue in Toronto. But not only did Watson have friends present in the audience (who occasionally yelled out random friendly heckles), his father was also present for the performance. One of the highlights was their redition of Man Under The Sea, which Watson dedicated to his father and then grabbed his piano stool and headed out into the middle of the crowd to sing, unamplified. A few members of the opening band, Plants and Animals, joined the rest of the band on stage and provided the acoustical background to the song.
Overall, the show was an impressive display of musical experimentation with melodic and pleasing results, worthy of the Polaris Prize and the attention that is following.
Info: Patrick Watson | Connect: MySpace
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