The Second Annual Movember Mo-Off @ Biltmore Cabaret -- 11/30/11

As November draws to an end, so too do the lifespan of many men's nose neighbours. Of course I mean the moustaches sported for Movember, to help raise awareness for prostate cancer. And to end off the month with a bang was the second annual Movember Mo-Off, the brainchild of Savannah Leigh Wellman. As well as three pretty kickass bands, there were prizes for best 'stache, a barber station to shave (or just trim) the cookie dusters with before and after photos, a photobooth, moustache shaped cookies and lots of mustachioed men in attendance; to either the chagrin or delight of the ladies.

The first band of the night was Redbird, with a mix of songs off their debut EP, We're All Friends and Lovers Until it Falls Apart, and newer ones. I've mentioned before my soft spot for female singers with a strong voice and a little bit of a roots bent (an affliction I blame on the likes of Neko Case) and Savannah's great pipes and beautiful songwriting definitely fit that mould. The guitar riff on "Therein Lies The Grey" will get stuck in your head for days and "No Game" contains one of my favourite lyrics of the year, "My subtlety sabotages me / so please read between the lines".
Another highlight of the set was a new songs which I didn't catch the name of, but saw the band rocking out a little harder than the rest, with a great solo from guitarist John Sponarski.
Redbird has definitely been one of my favourite new bands this year, and I was glad to be able to see them one more time before years end.

Next up was another favourite new band, and a double shot of Sponarski with Portage & Main. They were fresh off a tour with Treelines, which would explain three quarters of the band joining John, Harold Donnelly and Georges Couling; Matt Kelly on pedal steel, Steve Lockhart (with his usual enthusiasm) on bass and Grant McKinnon keeping things incredibly tight on drums. It probably helped that they had spend the previous two weeks playing together, but as a whole they meshed phenomenally well, and it was probably the best set I've seen from P&M this year (and I've seen them a few times).
Highlights of the set were the fantastic harmonies of the catchy "What Have I Done" and the intense "Tonight pt 2", plus a new song, a complete rager, revelling in dirty southern rock. They rounded out the set with my favourite of theirs, "I'd Never Climbed A Mountain" which builds to a soaring ending, and finished in their usual way, with the great singalong "Carolina".

Finally, wrapping up the night was a band I have seen thrice in the last two weeks, The Matinée. And even thought it was the third time, it still felt fresh, as they did a good job of changing up their sets; most of the songs were the same, but they would throw in different touches, like a bit of "Another Brick In The Wall" slipped into a song and a cover of Ryan Adams' "Let It Ride". They were missing keyboardist Dave Young, but were still firing on all cylinders, with their usual blend of folk, roots and rock and great energy & presence, especially lead singer Matt Layzell (even with his self-described creepy moustache).
They didn't end up starting til around midnight, so the weeknight crowd had thinned out a little, but as soon as they kicked off with "Let Her Go", everyone there was into it, with the usual clapping/stomping break in "Sweet Water" and singing along to "Rocking & Rolling". After the great drum breakdown in "The Road", that has each member bashing on various drums, they ended the night with "Stomp", which starts with Pete Lemon shining on drums and builds to an insane climax, featuring one of many face melting guitar solos from Matt Rose.

Not only was it a night of three killer bands, but they ended up raising over $1,500 for Movember. I'd say it was a huge success.