Royal Canoe @ Fortune -- 06/21/14

Two days into the Vancouver International Jazz Fest, and they've already shown me two of the best shows I've seen so far this year. Last night it was back to Fortune for one of my favourite groups to see live, Royal Canoe. It had been a while -- since before the release of their new album Today We're Believers -- but I was glad to see them back, especially on a stage that could hold all of their equipment and persons.

Starting off the night, however, was hometown band Copilots. With kind of a droning rock sound, they teased songs from an upcoming album, but a lot of them had the same vibe, and the lead singer's vocals were a little buried. The set didn't really do much for me -- aside from one song near the end, introduced as their dancey-song -- and can be summed up in their last song, a ten+ minute song that just kind of meandered through different sounds and dragged on to end the set.

As soon as they finished, the guys of Royal Canoe hit the stage to set up their stage-full of equipment; dual drums, mountains of keyboards and synth, a whole table for effects pedals and more, the six-piece band always fills the stage. Leading off with the high energy "Show Me Your Eyes", and by the second song, "Hold On To The Metal", the crowd was already clapping and singing along. In fact, it was a great crowd overall, lots of singing & clapping, and "recognition whoos". None more so than the massive "Bathtubs", one of the highlights.

I've said before, Royal Canoe is one of the best and most interesting bands, especially to watch live, with a vast range of sounds and influences reigned in to one great electro/pop/rock sound. And they proved it again with a set focused on the new album (and its preceding EPs), ranging from the soft and introspective "Exodus of the Year" to the R&B flavoured "Summersweat".

They finished off the set with Matt Peters' distorted vocals on "Nightcrawlin'" but were called back for one more from the crowd, a fantastic cover of the 90s R&B jam "No Diggity" by Blackstreet. I always like it when bands do something fun and unexpected with the obligatory encore -- aside from just another couple songs -- and this was a perfect example of that.

I've seen them a half a dozen times now, and while they have always blown me away, this was by far the best show I've seen from the Winnipeggers. They were tight with an amazing energy, feeding off the crowd's enthusiasm and giving back tenfold.

Show Me Your Eyes, Hold On To The Metal, Just Enough, Exodus Of The Year, Stemming, Bloodrush, Summersweat, Birthday, Bathtubs, Button Fumbla, Nightcrawlin'.
(encore) No Diggity [Blackstreet cover]