You could say Santa has made an early visit to Fredericton, because there is no shortage of live music presents for the indie music fan. I’ve already secured my tickets for Jenn Grant and Joel Plaskett at the Wilmot United Church for Shivering Songs, as well as a pair of tickets for the February Frank Turner gig that sold out fairly quickly (phew!) I have friends catching Ben Caplan and Great Lake Swimmers in a few weeks. Seeing Elliott BROOD was not quite a last minute decision, but given how much I’ve spent on this winter’s entertainment it took a little convincing. I knew they were a fun live band, so NoonanMan and I decided to join our tribe for a fun night out at The Capital.
A word about The Capital: I have a soft spot for the place. It was my go-to bar when I still lived within walking distance of downtown and I wasn’t a parent. Great memories of free seafood chowder Fridays and Bob Marley and Dave Matthews on a loop on the patio. They no longer do free chowder, but they bring in some excellent live indie acts. The downstairs layout isn’t exactly conducive to watching live music, and seating is nearly non-existent, but it’s tiny enough that you can hear everything. You can get local craft beer or cheap Coors Light draft (which I reached for that night because a friend was buying, and sometimes you just feel like having cheap beer.) And if you like hanging at the bar, you can watch the stage from a monitor mounted above. It’s a fine hole-in-the-wall bar.
Back to the gig: I heard Elliott BROOD was a ton of fun live, and on this night they lived up to their reputation. Just a banjo, acoustic guitar, drums, raspy vocals and great energy. They ran through all of the songs I recognized as a regular Radio Two listener: “Northern Air”, “If I Get Old”, the more recent “Jigsaw Heart”, my favourite “Without Again”, even digging back to 2005’s “The Bridge”. “Oh Alberta” was a predictable but rowdy crowd pleaser – I thought the floor was going to cave in from the stomping. They also endeared themselves to the masses with tracks I wasn’t as familiar with like “The Valley Town” and “W.I.A.D.F.Y.”
Their warm-up act, label mates Grey Lands, was a surprising contrast to the BROOD. They felt very early-to-mid 90s alterna-rock, and despite a moment where a friend and I were convinced they were lifting the riff from Sloan’s “500 Up”, they were quite good.
The original site for this gig was the Boyce Farmers Market, but I am guessing it was moved to a smaller venue on account of ticket sales. It’s disappointing for these hard working bands – they deserve the love and the revenue. On the other hand, 100 or so fans in that tiny bar Saturday night got more than they bargained for with a more intimate, inclusive live performance.