During last year's CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards, one of the most hotly debated categories was Best Live Act. We'd seen three of the nominees: Rich Aucoin, Library Voices and Fucked Up. (We'll see the winners, Arkells, on Mar. 2 in Detroit.) There was a lot of fervent love for Rich Aucoin, and with good reason. A Fucked Up show is an intense punk communion. But the majority of our votes went to Library Voices, for their gimmick-free performances built on the strength of sheer personality, musical and lyrical talent, enthusiasm and some of the most fun we've ever had at a show.
Summer of Lust, a second alt-pop gem featuring Mike Dawson's erudite lyrics (and on stage, his amusingly, sometimes alarmingly, tipsy keyboard stand), was still going strong when after a long 18-month wait, Library Voices returned to Windsor's Phog Lounge on Oct. 30, 2011 (read our first show review here). We've been fortunate to enjoy the band in this intimate setting when they're selling out much larger venues, which makes their traditional closing singalong, this time to Lennon's "Oh Yoko!", all the more like a house show. Already known for resilience-- they lost their instruments not once, but twice in one year due to theft and flood-- singer Carl Johnson more than embodied it that evening. He sang the entire set after pulling out a molar he'd broken the night before when he hit himself in the mouth with a mic.
Waterloo's Will Currie & The Country French opened, and what a difference a year made since we saw them in Sept. 2010. Certainly their previous show was good, but this performance was much heartier. Currie seemed shy before; this time he was clearly confident and at ease. Their first full-length album, Awake, You Sleepers!, is a familiar friend now, released in October 2011 after a long delay. The band is a bit hard to pin down genre-wise. Even their own artist page on Radio 3 uses five different adjectives: alt pop, retro pop, dancehall, indie rock and piano beat. Identity crisis? No, they're all accurate.