My best friend from high school made the four hour trek from Iowa up to Minnesota just to see Royal Canoe (and me of course) last year. I had never heard of them before stepping foot into their show last year but instantly knew I would never forget them. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that good friend of mine couldn’t make it up last night. He is getting married on Saturday and apparently there’s a lot that goes into weddings and he just couldn’t get away. I wasn’t going to let that stop me and, since I’m a terrible friend and chose Riot Fest over his wedding, going to the show last night helped me feel like I was celebrating with him in some strange way.
Opening up the set was local songstress Mariah Mercedes. Mariah had a very singer-songwriter vibe to her but somehow had the power of a full pop band. Her voice wasn’t candy coated– it was raw in a way but still had a sense of beauty that had me falling head over heels for her short set. She had a sense of confidence that most local singer-songwriters seem to lack and that confidence had the room completely silent throughout her set. With a cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs” and a cover of Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” thrown into her set, it was hard to know what to expect from this young woman and I really liked that. She may be young, but there is a very bright future ahead for Mariah Mercedes.
Following up the solo set was Little Scream– an Iowa born but Montreal based singer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist, artist… man, the list doesn’t end. Little Scream is the stage name of Laurel Sprengelmeyer. Although she was joined by a drummer, bassist and keyboardist, Laurel constantly had the spotlight on her as she powered her way through a truly interesting and intriguing forty minute set. It seemed like as soon as you felt you could guess where a song was going, the band would take a turn and change everything. When you finally started bobbing your head along to the beat, the drummer wouldn’t hit on a certain beat and it would completely throw you off. This sounds miserable, right? Wrong. I absolutely loved it and it kept the already interesting set feeling completely fresh and different from anything I had ever heard before.
The energy that radiated off the small stage as Little Scream played was beautiful. Laurel’s smile was nothing short of contagious and, although the music wasn’t predictable and you were often caught off guard by a change in the flow, dancing turned into a necessity. With a sound that wasn’t overly poppy or mainstream yet still felt accessible, I found myself completely forgetting that this group wasn’t even the reason I came out to show. Like almost every other band that catches me off guard and has me falling for them even though I had never heard of them prior to the show, as soon as they got up on stage it felt like they were tearing down and making room for the main attraction. Dear Little Scream– please come back soon. I want to bring all of my friends that just couldn’t pull themselves out of their houses for a Monday night show.
Finishing out the night was Canadian based Royal Canoe. This is the band that my high-school buddy took me to see about a year ago and sparked an obsession for me. I suppose you could classify Royal Canoe’s music as indie-pop but it’s really so much more than that. With a stage full of keyboards, drums and people, the wall of sound that Royal Canoe makes is something that will knock you straight on your butt. It’s dynamic, it’s interesting, and, most of all, it’s fun. Much like Little Scream, it’s music that makes you want to get up and move. Even though it was a sleepy Monday night, there was nothing sleepy about the modest crowd that had come out to the venue. Everyone had a smile on their face and everyone was moving around at least a little bit.
With six albums out, Royal Canoe is not a new band in any way, shape or form. They are seasoned professionals and definitely come off that way when playing live but they still have that sense of passion and fun that you would get with a brand new band full of teenagers. Their passion for the music is something to be envied and, with each member smiling throughout the set, it’s hard to not smile along with them. With electronic undertones under their indie-pop beats, Royal Canoe has a sound that is unmatched by anyone. That sound matched with the fun energy of their live show is the reason why I have been craving a chance to catch these guys live again. The fact that, even after about a year, nothing has really changed and they had me falling in love with them all over again should telling you everything you need to know.
Although I didn’t get home until well past my bedtime and the struggle to get out of bed this morning was real, last night was a great show. What did you do last night? Did you stay in the house and let the Monday blues get to you? Or did you go out and see some live music that made you completely forget what day it was?