Michael Bernard Fitzgerald w/ Acres of Lions @ Performance Works -- 02/24/12

This weekend marks the seventh annual Winterruption Festival, a celebration filled with food and performance and arts and dance and music on Granville Island. And do they ever have some amazing music this entire weekend, with free shows during the day and a couple nifty looking double bills in the evenings, like Michael Bernard Fitzgerald with Acres of Lions last night.

Acres of Lions kicked off the night with fill-in-drummer Cody Beer joining Jeff Kalesnikoff on guitar and vocals, Tyson Yerex on guitar & keys, and Dan Ball on bass. They started with "Let's Get Sentimental" from their debut album, and the ridiculously catchy "Reaction" came early on in the set with Jeff  getting everyone to clap and "Ba Baa" along. They slowed down a bit for the Firefly-inspired "Best Day Ever" before rocking the rest of the set, with upbeat and infectious songs like "Kids" and "Closer", before ending with another slower one, the title track off their most recent album, Collections.
While they're not reinventing the pop-rock genre, their live show is just flat out fun; the whole band has a great energy and stage presence, immediately filling the dance floor and getting the crowd to sing and clap along to a few songs.

Not long after, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald hit the stage with a nice sized band including a horn section (whom he introduced as "The Horny Boys"), a pair of drummers, and more. He started off with "Movie Life" and his brand new single, "Follow", playing a good number of songs from his upcoming album and EP, both titled Yes; Side A and Side B respectively. The new stuff sounded much like you would expect, pop-ish with a hint of soul, and the full band gave it a nice, fleshed out sound. It definitely got me interested to pick up the album(s).
MBF also has a great stage presence, genuinely nice and humble, and an effortless charm. He did things like give out his phone number, so everyone could be "text friends" and when there was a bit of a delay, when he had to change and restring his guitar, he kept the flow going with his backup band playing, and then bringing a fan on stage to demonstrate CPR through dance (no, seriously).
Highlights of the set were the aptly named "Firecracker", which was one of my favourites of the night, and the older "Brand New Spaces", with everyone stomping & clapping along, and ending with a medley of top 40 covers including Sysco, Flo Rida, and LMFAO. And those weren't the only covers in the set, he had a few more throughout; Paul Simon's "The Obvious Child" early on, The Boss's "Dancing in the Dark" to end the main set and "Call Your Girlfriend" by Robyn in the encore.

Both bands of the night put on incredibly fun sets, and they were a perfect match for a night of good music. And speaking of another perfect match, I am definitely looking forward for Winterruption to continue tonight with Aidan Knight & The Belle Game at Performance Works.