United Steel Workers of Montreal with Redbird & The Sumner Brothers @ Railway -- 02/22/11

I don't know why, maybe it's by design (in fact, it probably is) but the Railway Club always seems to have a lot of great folk, roots rock, or alt country acts. Last night was a trio of bands that would definitely fit into that.

First up was The Sumner Brothers, and they started their set in a most excellent way, proclaiming "This song is about a giant" before getting right into it. They had a very folk, almost bluesy sound as the titular brothers shared vocal duties, which both contrasted and complimented each other. Both deep, one more smooth and one with a gritty rumble, but full of emotion; one of the brothers was singing through clenched teeth a couple times. He also changed instruments a few times, going from guitar to keys to banjo to soprano sax.
As well as their own songs, they covered Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)" and did a pretty good job of it, and ended with the  traditional song "Pay Me My Money Down".
They put on quite an entertaining show, and I would be interested in checking them out again.

Next up was Redbird, who I was quite looking forward to seeing. It would be my first time seeing them play a full band show since August, and thus my first time seeing the current lineup in full; who meshed very well together, despite being fairly new. Since that August show, I had seen and heard some acoustic songs, so it was interesting to see those same songs with the full band feel to them. The set started off with "Oh Please My Heart", which is one of the songs I knew acoustically. When the full band kicked in on it, I knew they would make the songs stronger than they already were.
Another song that I was more used to acoustic -- and one of my favourites of the songs I had heard -- was "No Game", and I was a little surprised by how much of a rocker it ended up being. But pleasantly so, as it worked very well. Definitely made me more excited for the upcoming EP.
There were, however, some technical problems with the set -- for a couple songs, Savannah's mic seemed low, and her vocals were drowned out a little, but it wasn't a persistent issue (at least not during Redbird's set) and not terribly noticeable or anything.
I've always liked the roots rock, as well as being a sucker for strong voices like Savannah's, and so the more I see Redbird, the more I am enjoying them. I am certainly looking forward to the next time I will be able to see them live (whenever that might be)

And finally was the United Steel Workers of Montreal. I had heard a lot of good things about them, so was quite intrigued. They hit the stage six people strong, and I immediately noticed there was no drummer -- just guitars, stand up bass, banjo, mandolin and accordion. The launched right into it, and pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night when they broke a string during the first song. And not only that, but they managed to joke and banter enough to keep the crowd entertained while the guitar was being restrung.
Despite being from Montreal (imagine that, a band who is actually from their namesake) they gave off more of a maritime, folk-alt-country feel, reminding me a little of the Tom Fun Orchestra, with the dual male/female vocals and raucous, fun sound. They put on a show that was just plain fun to watch, with the singer even going into the crowd and involving those in the front, from singing to/at them to getting them to shout to actually dancing with a guy. And of course, it was made that much better by the fact that the music itself was actually really good, very catchy.
The aforementioned mic problems reared up again, though, as Felicity Hamer seemed to be continually having issues with any mic she tried. But they didn't let that slow them down as they soldiered through their set.
The encore consisted of the incredibly powerful "Jesus We Sweat", and a slower song that they encouraged everyone to dance for, promising that any pair of people who did so would be getting laid that night.

Definitely a great trio of bands that, despite the technical difficulties, each put on a great show.