Steam Whistle Unsigned w/ Acres of Lions, Rococode & Familia @ Biltmore -- 07/26/12

For a while now, the Toronto microbrewery Steam Whistle has been hosting its Unsigned events in various Canadian cities. Each concert in the series features three Canadian artists -- the first Vancouver show back in January featured Treelines, The Ruffled Feathers, and Sidney York -- with all of the ticket sales going back to the arts community; in this case to Solidarity Rock which supports musicians in Cuba.

The first band up was Familia, who recently changed from a four-piece to a trio. The lead singer, Tamara Umlah, has a strong and soulful voice, but musically they have a pretty straightforward soul-pop sound. Even their cover of Cold War Kids' "Hang Me Out to Dry" sounded similar to the rest of their set. They weren't bad by any means, and a perfectly acceptable opening band.

Next up was Rococode who once again displayed their catchy alt-rock/synth pop sounds with great harmonies. There wasn't much banter through the set, instead just focusing on playing songs off of their debut album, Guns, Sex and Glory -- like "Empire" which always gets stuck in my head after seeing them -- as well as a couple new songs sprinkled in -- "Run Run Run Run Run" has a definite catchy edge. As usual, the band had a great energy, and they're always a pleasure to watch play.

And wrapping up the night was Acres of Lions. Unfortunately I only caught about half their set, since it was a bit of a late start, but they were on top of their game. An incredibly fun band to watch live, the four members were all oozing energy and enthusiasm, and had no problem getting the crowd to sing and/or clap along to songs like the nostalgic "Kids" or "Closer" (and, I can only assume, "Reaction" later in the set).
And, as a side note, the band was on tour at this point for over 150 days, and were by no means showing signs of slowing down.  A harder working band would be rare to find.

Despite the late start on a week night -- which isn't unusual for the Biltmore -- it was another great event, and I am definitely looking forward to another trio of bands for the next Steam Whistle Unsigned.