Four local acts rocked Dickens Pub in Calgary Saturday night.
The set was opened by local five-piece I Am The Mountain, who describe their sound as “campfire soul.” Their music combines stripped-down songwriting with complex instrumental arrangements and extended solos, creating an unlikely mix of folk and jazz.
The songs were majestically chill, often starting as acoustic ditties and swelling with keyboards and trumpets.
In addition to being fine musicians, the band members deserve extra props for their meandering anecdotes about video games and signing up for Shoppers Optimum Cards (I won’t even deduct points for vocalist Colton O’Reilly’s terrible pun about buying “pancake waffles”).
Additionally, their surprising cover of Cher’s “Believe,” reimagined as an indie-rock jam, was one of the night’s most delightful moments.
The second act was a sharp contrast to their mellow predecessors. The Rumble played fast and loud (with the exception of one fuzzed-out ballad). Halfway through the set they shifted gears and adopted twangs for a pair of bluegrass-inspired tunes played at punk rock speeds.
Third in the line-up was The Corey Hotline. Made up of lead singer/guitarist Mason Jenkins, bassist Brent Rossall, and drummer Jordan Phillips, the group entertained the crowd with a batch of cleverly-written rock-and-roll songs about girls, breakups, and mobile homes.
There was also a lively cover of “All Shook Up,” jokingly introduced as an “Elvis Stoijko single.
A lot of the tunes were similarly tongue-in-cheek, lending additional power to the pointed track “Tomboy Forever” (written by Jenkins about “growing up transgender in Alberta”).
The final act of the night, the festively-attired Pancake, treated the crowd to a selection of irreverent, snarkily-titled alt rock.
The vibe of their set was nonchalant, with a lot of amusing stage banter.
Prior to the song of the same name, someone in the crowd shouted out “What’s the gender-neutral term for ‘Sugar Daddy’?;” without missing a beat, guitarist Brendan Long replied: “Glucose Guardian.” As Long struggled to tune his guitar on-stage, the other band members alternately told jokes to the crowd and berated their colleague:
Bassist Tricia Minions: “We’re dying and everyone is watching.”
Long: “Maybe a certain drummer shouldn’t have knocked over my guitar!”
Not to be outdone, guitarist Luke Smit unplugged himself and darted off-stage as soon as the set wrapped up, before realizing he had to stick around for an encore.
In a way, the sometimes-lackadaisical vibe was a fine complement to the group’s diosyncratic songs. The highlight of the set was “F–ked Up,” a scathing break-up anthem with lines like “Smell like a mall cop/You really f—ked up” and a gorgeous girl-group style chorus of “I will f—k you up.”
Admittedly, the crowd at the bar was on the small side (darn hockey game!), but all the delivering killer shows nonetheless. All-in-all, Saturday was an awesome evening of genre-bending music and a showcase for Calgary’s vibrant local scene.
Lineup: I Am The Mountain / The Rumble / The Corey Hotline / Pancake
Date: Dec. 2/2017
Venue: Dickens Pub, 1000 9 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2P 2Y6