The Wilderness of Manitoba w/ The Mountains & The Trees @ Little Mountain Gallery -- 07/22/10

The more shows I see at Little Mountain Gallery, the more I love it. Despite its residential location, which has caused the neighbours to complain about noise a couple before, it is a great little room which gives off an incredibly intimate atmosphere. One that is perfect for the two acts who played there last night.

First up was The Mountains & The Trees, the pseudonym for Jon Janes, who took the stage alone. Over the course of the set, he played guitar, banjo, harmonica and foot-tambourine (sometimes more than one at once), and one thing that immediately struck me was how great a storyteller he was. Not only through his songs, but between each one he had something to say. A tale about the song, his trip here (driving cross country) and warm welcome to Vancouver, or other stories to engage the audience. The set consisted of his folky songs that, between the slower and melodic songs and quicker, more upbeat ones, never stagnated.
Highlights of the set were "More & More & More", which was inspired by multiple listens of Dan Mangan's Nice, Nice, Very Nice, and his second to last song were he tried something he said he had always wanted to do. Since the crowd was very quiet and attentive, he was able to unplug his guitar and step off the mic for a completely acoustic song, which went over fantastically. He closed the set with "Up & Down", which features not one, but two techniques that I am a sucker for; the first was some looping trickery and the second, playing his guitar with a bow.
While I certainly liked his music before, his live show made me more of a fan, and I would highly recommend catching a show next time you have the chance.

Next was The Wilderness of Manitoba, who played somewhat of an acoustic set. They took the stage with only one mic for the five of them, positioned at the front of the stage, which led to a really cool atmosphere. Also helping was the painting on the wall behind them of what looked like a camp ground in the woods. Which was appropriate, because their whole set felt very intimate, as if everyone was just sitting around a campfire listening to them. They also had a folky sound to them, but one that hinted at an underlying epicness to some of the songs. Songs like "Orono Park", which starts with some soft ooh's, building until the bursting point where it just soars. The guitarist even managed to break a string on his acoustic with their intensity. "St. Petersburg" and "Hermit" were also highlights, both of which being beautiful, slower paced songs.

As much as I would love to see The Wilderness of Manitoba again, and I certainly wish for them to move up to larger venues, I am not sure if any future show will match this one. I just hope they will prove me wrong next time.