Portage & Main and Redbird @ Media Club -- 03/09/12

On the eve of their [almost] cross-country tour, Portage & Main and Redbird got together to throw a little going away party at the Media Club. Both bands were among my favourite new bands (and albums) last year, so I was excited to see them together.

First up was Twin River, comprised of Courtney Ewan and Andy Bishop (of Red Cedar and White Ash Falls) and joined by some familiar faces; Malcolm Jack of Sun Wizard on bass and Dustin Bromley of Pleasure Cruise and about eight other bands on drums. It was their first show in that incarnation, and they sounded pretty tight; Ewan took lead vocals for most of the set, and their folk-alt-country sound set the tone for the night. Though nothing from the set really stood out, it was still enjoyable, and I am definitely interested in hearing more from them in the future.

Next up was Redbird, led by the beautiful voice of Savannah Leigh Wellman with John Sponarski on guitar and Ben Appenheimer and Graham Serl on bass and drums, respectively. They kicked off the rootsy-rock set with "Therein Lies the Grey", immediately captivating the packed Media Club. Savannah has a great stage presence, and good banter, especially the back and forth between her and Sponarski.
A few new songs were sprinkled throughout, including one called "I Fall Again", which really caught my ear, and "The Tower", their new single which has one of my new favourite lines "Nostalgia is a fool's addiction", and after Sponarski tore it up with a solo during "In The Hands of Ghosts", the set ended with another new one, "Roll Over Me".

Therein Lies the Grey, West Wind, Wandering One, Set Me Free, I Fall Again, Oh Please My Heart, The Tower, In the Hands of Ghosts, Roll Over Me.

And finally, Portage & Main took the stage, Sponarski and Harold Donnelly splitting vocals and guitar, with Georges Couling on keys and sharing the rhythm section with Redbird. They began the set with "Nothing", and from the get go, they were firing on all cylinders. They had a great energy as they rocked through their set.
Savannah joined them for some backup vocals on "Rocky Mountain Wanderer" and they slowed down a little with "When You're Gone", but ramped the energy right back up with a new one, a dirty swamp rocker called "Sweet Darling".And after one of my favourites of theirs, the slow-building "I'd Never Climbed A Mountain", they wrapped up the show with the bar room sing along "Carolina", not only getting everyone to join in on the chorus, but pulling friends on stage to join them.

In the last year, I've been lucky enough to see both Portage & Main and Redbird multiple times each, and I can safely say that this was the best show I have seen from either band. It could have been the atmosphere -- with half of the Vancouver music scene at the packed Media Club -- or wanting to leave on tour on a high note, but both bands pulled out all the stops for a great show.

Nothing (Take What You Need), What Have I Done?, Better Man, Rocky Mountain Wanderer, When You're Gone, Tonight pt. 2, Sweet Darling, I'd Never Climbed a Mountain, Carolina.