Great Lake Swimmers

LIVE: Patrick Watson w/Great Lake Swimmers @ The 9:30 Club - 9/5/12

LIVE: Patrick Watson w/Great Lake Swimmers @ The 9:30 Club - 9/5/12

For all the jokes we make at the expense of our neighbors to the north, Canada may have the United States beat in one key export – great indie rock. Some Canadian groups find massive success in the US – Arcade Fire, for example. Others find a smaller but no less rabid following, such as Japandroids, Destroyer, or Besnard Lakes. Still others have found success in Canada but have yet to truly break through here despite prodigious amounts of talent and fantastic live performances.

One such band is Montreal’s Patrick Watson (that’s the name of the band as well as the singer/pianist who founded it). They garnered a Juno New Artist of the Year nomination in 2007 and have been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize in 2007 and 2009. (No, you don’t need to know what those are, only that they’re a much more accurate gauge of talent than the Grammys.) Those successes have yet to translate to fame in the United States, but if Wednesday’s show at the 9:30 Club is any indication, they won’t be a kept a secret much longer.

TO Do List: Patrick Watson w/Great Lake Swimmers @ The 9:30 Club Wednesday 9/5!!!

When we heard that Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers would be playing with Montreal’s Patrick Watson at his Wednesday show at the 9:30 Club we were ecstatic, but also had some questions (beyond where in DC one might get poutine to get the evening started right). Was it a double bill? Was GLS opening for Watson, or vice versa?

Both bands are touring in support of stellar records – Watson’s Adventures in Your Own Backyard has been garnering rave reviews for it’s sparse, Antony and the Johnsons-esque minimalism and emphasis on mood. The Great Lake Swimmers’ most recent album, New Wild Everywhere is also a masterpiece, but eschews the spare quiet sound of their early records for fuller, more upbeat tunes. Thus the questions about the lineup; when GLS played in DC earlier this year they had the crowd bouncing and moving, cheering guitar and violin solos alike, and giving their best performance in the area to date. On the other hand, crowds at Watson’s shows are known to sit cross-legged on the floor in order to take in the lush soundscapes he and his band so effortlessly design. Would GLS get the crowd up and pumped only to have Watson chill them back out?

At the end of the day, either scenario is fine for this perfect end-of-the-summer Wednesday night show.

REVIEW: Great Lake Swimmers - New Wild Everywhere

Great Lake Swimmers' singer/songwriter Tony Dekker has grown increasingly confident over the course of his career, and that confidence shines through in New Wild Everywhere, the best in the band's catalog to date.  There is scarcely a note out of place, a passage that doesn't work, or an instrument that sounds unnecessary. Dekker's own words in the song "Changes With the Wind" describe the record best: "All the notes played with discipline / Hanging in tune, and rising as they fall."

"Hanging in tune" is exactly what this music does. Guitars, accordions, banjos, and other staples of acoustic music dominate, but other instruments such as flugelhorns and euphoniums playfully pop up throughout. These unorthodox instruments stay quietly in the background, but emerge just enough to peak the listeners interest and add another level of beauty to Dekker's songs. And through them all, Miranda Mulholland's violin flutters around the music like a spring butterfly, weaving in and out of Dekker's melodies. Mulholland also harmonizes perfectly with Dekker on many songs, most notably "Cornflower Blue," a country waltz that also utilizes Erik Arnesen's skills on the banjo.


All words/pictures by ace contributor Suzanne Wnek

Kevin here. Yesterday we heard all about the planning, today it's on to the MUSIC. And by the looks of it, there was a metric sh!@-ton to be had. So lets hop back on Suzanne's wild ride through 2012's SXSW and let's see where it takes us.


Sugar Tongue Slim @ The ParishMore NPR, at the The Parish. I loved La Vida Boheme and Sugar Tongue Slim. The first band was super lively and irresistible. Sugar Tongue Slim was smart and humorous and filled with hip-hop pageantry. I was again disappointed in Polica. She is beautiful and all that, but there’s not a lot of differentiation from song to song (to me) and her moves were very repetitious. I was also disappointed in Lower Dens. I thought I'd just missed the "good" stuff the night before, but all they played was the same, and nothing stood out to me at all. Must all be new. Next up was the legendary Magnetic Fields who made you laugh, cry, cheer, and sing with songs about death and weddings (according to them) and it was a great way to end the first portion of the day.