Plants & Animals @ Rickshaw -- 03/21/12

Don't ever let it be said that I don't give second chances. A couple years ago, I went to one of the first shows at the then-new Rickshaw Theatre, and came away utterly disappointed. The reason was because of the terrible sound -- the venue is more or less a giant cement box -- and I have all but avoided it since, even passing on some good bands there. But when Montreal's Plants & Animals announced that would be their Vancouver date, I had to put aside my trepidations, because there was no way I was missing them.

The opening band was another from Montreal, Little Scream, which is not the name of the band, but the stage name for Laurel Sprengelmeyer. She was, however, joined by a band (which including one member on bass flute) for some dark and moody music, occasionally a little haunting and ethereal. My favourite song of their set was "Cannons", as well as some great covering for a broken string; while her guitarist went off stage to restring it, she showed off her powerful voice with an a capella song.
I quite enjoyed the set, and I look forward to hearing more from her in the future.

Not too long after, the Plants & Animals kicked off their set, the trio of Warren Spicer, Matthew Woodley, and Nicolas Basque were joined by a fourth member on bass, starting a bit soft with "Song for Love", but immediately exploded into "Feedback in the Field". The sound for the set was... okay. Not as bad as I had feared, and certainly not so bad as to ruin the show, but the reverberations of the sound off the concrete walls was still very much noticeable. Despite this, the band put on a fantastic set; they had a good rapport with the crowd, bantering between songs, and each member had a great energy. And most importantly, they are all fantastic musicians, making everything they did on stage seem utterly effortless.
Highlights of the set included the bluesy swagger of "Crisis", one of my favourites off the new album, and "Undone Melody", a show burner that build to a huge ending. After about an hour, they "ended" with a bit of a sing along to "Bye Bye Bye", before coming back out to a chanting crowd for a couple more; the raucous "Why & Why" and what they more or less admitted was their own favourite song to play, "Faerie Dance", starting off slow and light and then exploding into a phenomenal climax with the band just jamming.

In the end, I was a little disappointed they didn't play the title track from the new album, The End of That, which has quickly become one of my favourite of theirs, and especially disappointed that they didn't play "Mercy", one of my favourite songs period, but despite that -- and despite the sound -- it was still a great set, and I am definitely glad I gave the venue another shot, because I would not liked to have missed this show.

Song For Love, Feedback in the Field, Crisis, Before,  Runaways, Lola Who?, The Mama Papa, Control Me, Game Shows, No Ideas, Undone Melody, Light Show, Bye Bye Bye.
(encore) Why & Why, Faerie Dance.