by Nilabjo Banerjee


Grey Cup Sunday (or Toronto’s first sub-zero temperatures) didn’t hinder a big draw @ The Garrison to see Winnipeg’s eclectic electro pop stars Royal Canoe. Jordan Klassen and Thomas D’Arcy were on opener duties.

Van City’s Jordan Klassen invited the crowd to come in closer away from the comforts of the bar stools.  Klassen’s fairy-folk tunes, from his full-length debut Repentance, have the power to halt conversations and coercing to redirect your attention to the source. The band’s camaraderie and naïve energy was endearing as the cheers got louder with every song.

Veteran of Toronto’s indie scene, Thomas D’Arcy kept those heads bobbin and feet moving. Ex- Small Sins frontman, backed by his band The Dick Moves (no joke!) were playing material mostly from the early 2013 release What We Want. D’Arcy’s lethargic stage presence (including frequently facing his back to the audience) didn’t compliment the loud and raw energy of the material such as the new single “The Price You Pay” or the infectious closer “Credit”. His emotive voice compensated for it though.

Toronto  was the finale of a 93 day tour for Royal Canoe.  Yet, the six piece ensemble showed no sign of fatigue or complacency. Fronted by the ex-The Waking Eyes Matt Peters, Royal Canoe make the sort of grind-inducing music that categorizing it into a genre seems unfair. The songs from the September debut Today We’re Believers are weirdly cool and a thoroughly entertaining listen. The extensive instrumentation of the tunes (as evidenced by six keyboards and the dual percussionists) sounded more vibrant in person than on the record, which probably made the commitment of lugging those instruments worth it. Peters’ falsetto stayed strong throughout the night, and so did the non-choreographed synchronized head bobbing among rest of the ensemble during the set. Slide in some Grey Cup banter and Leonard Cohen googling himself jokes, and it would be fair to say the packed house was royally entertained.