Broken Down Suitcase started off the night. The rootsy, folk duo comprised of Ben Caldwell and Eric Larocque played an assortment of guitars, banjos, and mandolins, with only the stomp of Ben's boot providing percussion.
Their catchy and melodic songs were driven by some great harmonies between the two of them. Most of them were more laid back songs, but they also had a few rockers; one of which started by getting the crowd to clap along increasingly faster was probably the best of the set.
Next up was Chris Kelly. The Vancouver mainstay has finally released an album of his own solo material, and having missed his CD release show, I was just as (if not more) excited for his set. His backing band had some familiar faces including Nathan Shubert, Rob Butterfield, and former Analog Bell Service bandmate Colin Cowan.
Chris has a massive energy, bounding around the stage and hardly staying still for a minute. He even broke a string on his guitar on the very first song, "Money", and the energy only went up from there.
Highlights of the set included the mid-tempo rocker "Up Nights" and "It's Your Way", which starts off with soft female vocals before gradually bursting into a cacophonous ending. He also threw in a great cover of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain", before wrapping up the set with the infectious "Cold Feet".
The night probably could have ended there and I would have satisfied, but they were only half way done.
The third band of the night was Small Town Artillery, fronted by Tom from The Boom Booms. While his vocals drew immediate comparisons to the two bands, they were less reggae than The Boom Booms; more funk rock, with a bit of a mish-mash of other things thrown in. Their big sound was helped out for one song when they brought up a few members of Five Alarm Funk for a horn section, as well as Boom Boom Aaron.
Admittedly, I am not all that into The Boom Booms, and I didn't really get into the sound of Small Town Artillery either. It's by no means bad, just not "my thing". But they definitely had a great energy on stage and drew people onto the dance floor.
And finally, the man of the hour JP Maurice took the stage. His eleven piece band was wearing all white, and featured members of Willhorse and Broken Down Suitcase and Redbird, Andrew Rasmussen and Badgerchild and Stephanie Chatman, and even a few others. There were a few times where a band that large seemed maybe a little superfluous -- like they were just playing at the same time, not necessarily together -- but for the most part they created a big, rich sound.
He started off the set with "Poison Heart" and "Get Mad" from the new album, both showing the darker side of his alt-pop-rock. A lot of JP's songs are about love and/or loss, and he always has a strong passion and emotion on stage, and this night was no different.
Other highlights of the set included the ridiculously catchy "Mistake" & "Good Feeling", and a fiery blues-tinged rocker that I didn't catch the name of.
He wrapped up the set with his latest single, "The Other One", but of course was back out for one more; starting with a cover of "Young Offenders" by The Constantines and then segueing into "Night Eyes", his collaboration with Tough Lovers from last year's Peak Performance Project, pulling up Jamie Smail to help with vocals.
It was a solid CD release show, and a great night in music all around, with about five shows worth of talent filling the stage throughout the night.