Joel Plaskett Emergency @ Fusion Festival -- 07/18/09

Despite the fact that it was in Surrey... how could one possibly pass up a free Joel Plaskett Emergency show? (Well, apparently people can, but that's besides the point.) And Said the Whale playing as well??? So, I braved the mean streets of Surrey for what is apparently Canada's largest multicultural festival, the Fusion Festival.

I will admit, the last time I saw Said The Whale live, I was slightly disappointed. I like their radio songs, heard on The Peak and Radio 3, but the show I saw a while back at the Biltmore had two specific drawbacks. Not only did they had the unenviable task of following Karkwa, but I am pretty sure that Karkwa blew out a speaker during their set, so when Said the Whale came on the sound was... not so good. But I was determined to give them a second chance, since I had been told from several people that was not the best representation of their live show. And I am ever so glad I did.
They hit the stage at 7 and only ended up playing for half an hour or so, but damn what a show. High energy and dynamic, they played the favourites as well as some new songs, including one to be on their next album, which featured another Vancouver musician Hannah Georgas on guest vocals. The Magician (Camilo), off their new vinyl EP, was probably my favourite of the set, as it is an insanely catchy song, as well as a great showcase of one of the bands strengths, the harmonies between vocalists/guitarists Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft.
And so, in the end, they won me over. I am sorry for every doubting the fine folks of Said The Whale, and I am now quite excited for the new album in October.

After a short break Barney Bentall & The Grand Cariboo Opry [sic] came on and, well, they sound exactly like their name implies. I don't know too much of Bentall, other than that one song, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but the whole set was a little too... Nashville. Not just their sound, but even the way they dressed, everything seemed to come straight out of the Grand Ole Opry. Which, I am sure is what they were going for... They were all fine and capable and excellent musicians, just not quite my speed. To end the set, they had Joel Plaskett come out and sing a song with them, which was pretty cool.

And then shortly after 9, Joel Plaskett Emergency (including Peter Elkas!) came out, and rocked. The fuck. Out. His show a couple months back, for the tour to support Three, was one of my favourite shows this year, but was billed as a solo, Emergency-less show, with just him, his father, and Ana & Rose. That night was a bit more mellow, and this show, with the Emergency, seemed like a fantastic companion to it. With unparallelled enthusiasm and energy, you can really tell how much you can tell he just loves to be on stage. His liveliness, the sheer force he emits just by being there, and not to mention all the little asides and stories he throws into his songs, in the intros, mid song, changing things up and joking around, all go toward showcasing how much of a presence Plaskett has on stage, with a band or without. The set was just more proof how Plaskett is one of this countries the best live acts.
They hit mostly from the Emergency albums, with a few from Three; starting off with the Whitefang version of Work Out Fine, getting everyones psyched, and not letting the energy drop for the next hour and change. Mid way through, half of the band took a break while Plaskett and Elkas did one of my favourites from Three, Rollin Rollin Rollin, then Elkas took a break as well for Joel to do the newly reworked Love This Town (now with 75% less Kelowna-hatred). The band members came back for Nowhere With You, which had many people singing along and A Million Dollars before they ended the "main" set with the fantastic Wishful Thinking, even throwing in a guitar duel mid-song with the amazingly talented Peter Elkas. After only a few minutes they came back out and Plaskett took a seat at the drums for Fashionable People to end the night on an incredible high.

Yet another fantastic show, not that I expected anything less from Mr. Plaskett, and it was nice to see I was wrong about Said The Whale the first time around.