Show Review: This is it

Poorly attended shows are a guilty pleasure. After a sold-out show the night before at Windsor's Phog Lounge for Yukon Blonde (who always packs them in) and the Paint Movement, the audience stayed away in droves for the Wheat Pool and Les Jupes on Sun., Mar. 13. We'd always rather see robust attendance for the bands' sake (and their bottom line), but can't deny there's something special about a show when it feels as if it's just for you. "Honestly, we'd rather play for a few fans than a room full of people," said Wheat Pool guitarist Glen Erickson (glenroy on the R3 blog), who also runs the band's label, Shameless Records.

The Edmonton-based Wheat Pool--Erickson, brothers Robb and Mike Angus, who ably alternate bass and guitar (including an awesome Norman acoustic) and new drummer Fred Brenton--deliver the tried-and-true extremely well.  Call it "dark country," alt-folk-country-rock (etc. etc.), we call their harmonies, tales of love lost, love found and prairie places, pure simple pleasure.  Coincidentally, the year the original Wheat Pool became Viterra (2007) is the year the band released their full-length debut, Township (Polaris long list- worthy  in our humble opinion).  The band continues to pay homage to similar themes on Hauntario (2009).  Fans will have to keep them on replay; although Erickson says they're working on some new material, there's nothing definite in the works.

Winnipeg is rivaling Regina when it comes to producing great bands; count Les Jupes among them. Michael Petkau Falk is a go-to music producer, founder of indie label Head in the Sand (home to fellow break-out Winnipeg bands the Liptonians and Royal Canoe), and since January, artistic director of the West End Cultural Centre. Now he can add frontman for his own rising group of musicians that includes David Schellenberg on bass, Adam Klassen at the drums and Kelly Beaton on keyboards and vocals. Pop/rock seems way too ordinary to describe Les Jupes' quirky yet serious approach to the genre. Petkau's deep voice has a dire quality to it that gives their songs great import; it's not quite so heavy live. Their debut album, Modern Myths, is available now.

Photos: Russ Gordon

Les Jupes - One Solemn Oath from Lena Franford on Vimeo.