Sunday, 17 March 2013

Ruby Suns + Painted Palms + Pick a Piper at Casa Del Popolo

Ruby Suns + Painted Palms + Pick a Piper at Casa Del Popolo


There are few things as indulgently entertaining as going to see a show as effervescent and eclectic as The Ruby Suns on a Wednesday night. Stepping into Casa del Popolo and shaking the snow off my coat, I was immediately enveloped in the warmth of the venue.

The temperature is markedly warmer than the sharp cold winds of the outdoors, but there is also warmth in the laughing conversations that resonate through the room, there is warmth rising like ghosts from ceramic mugs, and warmth in the fiery hues and greenery that make Casa so distinctive and visually appealing.

When I walk into the concert venue, it’s Pick a Piper who have the stage. Their sound is very similar to what I expect from The Ruby Suns, with the exception of being slightly more synth-based and dreamy. There’s a lot of quick, light drumwork that tiptoes around the other instrument like a gentle giant, so as not to dominate the sound. The vocals sound like a faint voice from a hazy memory, airy and smooth. I can’t help but be disappointed when they end their set without busting out Rooms or Dené Sled, two of my catchy, high-energy favorites.

Painted Palms

Next up is Painted Palms, who persevere with a “the show must go on” mentality despite having a very ill, raspy-voiced vocalist. Their sound is pretty congruous with that of Pick a Piper and The Ruby Suns, but the allusion to global influence is replaced with glimmery disco beats, introducing an 80s experimental feel to the line-up. They play three great songs before apologizing for the brevity of their set, and hop off the stage after introducing the main act.

Hailing from New Zealand, The Ruby Suns have a sound that is equal parts tribal and ethereal. They’ve grown a lot since they released their first album in 2005, and their style has evolved along the way. Their self-titled album from ’05 and Sea Lion (released in 2008) both have a sunny disposition and a beachy feel – putting on either of those records is like taking an escapist trip to a sweeter place. Fight Softly (2010) layers a lazy, nonchalant voice over a twisty, morphing soundscape. Christopher (2013) marks the most recent evolutionary chapter of The Ruby Suns, as their lyrics become dark and lamenting. The show proves to be a good balance of all the themes they’ve breached over the course of their musical journey, gifting the audience with a balanced blend of sad and sullen, chill and cheerful.

Ruby Suns

Though the caliber of music is more than satisfactory, this band could benefit from focusing on putting on more of a show and engaging the audience. The musicians all appeared to be very focused and absorbed by their craft, but the interplay with the audience (or each other, for that matter) was minimal. As for the show as a whole: I enjoy continuity at a concert, but I think it would’ve been a better move to shake things up with a slightly different style somewhere in the line-up. Pick a Piper have some incredible percussion-heavy songs that have an exotic, intoxicating energy, and even just including those in their set would’ve allowed the three bands’ styles to play off each other, instead of melding together. The lack of musical diversity and band/audience chemistry were the only real weaknesses in an otherwise vivid performance that provided a sweet escape from the cold, unforgiving winter weather.

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