Portage & Main with Julia & Her Piano and Ma Petite @ Nyala -- 07/22/11

It may seem like an odd place for a show, in an African cuisine eatery, but Nyala on Main St hosted some local bands on Friday night that were bound to be a good time.

Up first was Ma Petite, the new project from Aussie-transplant Indiana Avent, which consisted of a few familiar faces, like Treelines' Matt Kelly on keys and banjo. It was the first show for the band, who had an adorable folk pop sound. Avent has a really nice voice, and is a great storyteller as well, with many of the songs full of charm; like "Man About The Moon" and my favourite from the set, "I Like That You Like Books". They also threw in a cover of AA Bondy's "Oh The Vampire"
The set was really intimate and relaxed, with Indiana joking with the band and the crowd throughout the set, but as was the case for the rest of the acts, the sound wasn't the best, which was understandable since it was a restaurant first and venue second. A really good set though, and I am definitely interested to hear more.

Next was Julia & Her Piano, which was not just Julia MacDougall and her piano, but also Andrew Lee (who plays in all the bands) on trumpet. It was her last show here in a while, since she's moving away, and much like Ma Petite, it was pretty intimate with lots of charmingly awkward banter -- the bulk of it being aimed at humiliating Andrew through various stories, which were pretty hilarious; the two play off each other very well, both in song and repartee.
Driven by her piano (obviously) and her strong voice, Julia's music is incredibly catchy folky-pop, with "When The Birds Come Out" and "Some Summer Night" being a couple stand-outs, as well as a new one that she ended the set with, called "Oyster Babe".

And closing out the night was an acoustic set from Portage & Main, also joined by Matt Kelly on pedal steel. They initially had a member on the upright piano that was there, but they quickly found it was not ideal, and switched to the keyboard. As seemed to be the theme of the night, their set was the most laid back I have seen them, with lots of joking and chatting between songs, which was great. It definitely helped that it was a small room with many people who knew each other.
I've see Portage & Main a couple times so far this year, but this was the first acoustic set, and the songs translated perfectly, especially "What Have I Done" and one of my favourite of theirs (or, as they jokingly pointed out, the one I always say "sucks the least") "I'd Never Climbed A Mountain". They, too, slipped a cover into their set, The Stones' "Dead Flowers" and ended with "Carolina", getting everyone to sing along.

As mentioned above, the sound wasn't the best, but I have definitely heard worse, and it was an especially fun night of local talent.

Nothing (Take What You Need), What Have I Done, I'm Going Down Tonight, Follow Me My Love, When You're Gone, Dead Flowers [Rolling Stones cover], Rocky Mountain Wanderer, I'd Never Climbed a Mountian, Carolina.