Montreal up-and-comers Land of Talk stole the show at TT the Bear's on Sunday night in front of a lucky summertime crowd. Lucky why, you ask? Because despite three excellent releases top to bottom, the band remains relatively unknown in the States — even in the indie rock scene despite ties to indie rock gods Broken Social Scene (lead singer Lizzie Powell is now an official member). Baffling as that is, it means you can still catch them at a small venue such as TT's for ten bucks opening for other bands. However, perhaps the secret is finally getting out as it seemed that most people came out to see LoT first and headliners the Besnard Lakes second.
Boston native Drew O'Doherty opened first with locally-flavored rock folk tales, complete with a Citgo sign shout out. Easy-going and cool, Drew and his band mates had the little room feeling homey. Headliners the Besnard Lakes played last, their set starting around midnight (complete with smoke machines!) after an extended set from LoT as requested by the crowd (more on that in a bit). The Besnard Lakes, also of Montreal, brought a mixed crowd of old school rock and rollers and young people. Their rock sound falls somewhere in between indie and psychedelic, an interesting blend that is all their own. Check out "Albatross" and my favorite, "Thomasina," to see what I mean.
After Drew and before the Besnard Lakes, Land of Talk played through a subdued but powerful set after lead singer Lizzie Powell announced she was feeling under the weather. It was no matter as the band rallied on through highlights from their library. Equal parts bang and quiet contemplation, the songs showcase Powell's distinctive voice and songwriting that just keeps getting better. They opened with fan favorite "Summer Special" and played songs from all three releases, including their latest, 2009's awesome Fun and Laughter EP.
The more upbeat "May You Never" and "Young Bridge" stood out, but it was the slower fare that really had sparks flying. I usually don't go to rock shows at TT's to cry, but I came damn close over gorgeous renditions of "Troubled," "It's Okay" and a cover of Big Star's "Thirteen."
By the end of the set, we just couldn't let them leave the stage. After Besnard Lakes frontman Jace Lasek proudly announced that Land of Talk is his favorite band, we held out hope that we could get an encore — and did! Grateful for the love from the crowd, the band returned for the opening track off their debut LP Some Are Lakes, "Yuppy Flu." Almost giggling at the line "pissing on the Earth's face" and then ending on the big, dark note, "Stop seeing your own death / and selling it to me!," Powell charmed and killed it like only she can.
Watch out for the much anticipated sophomore album from Land of Talk later this summer. Cloak and Cipher is set to be released on August 24th on Saddle Creek Records and is said to feature contributions from members of Stars, the Besnard Lakes, Arcade Fire and more.
- Jessy Bartlett
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