Rae Spoon @ Horseshoe Tavern

. : : February 19th, 2011 : : .

I went to The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern (that’s its proper name, with reason!) to see Jenn Grant solely on the word of blog commenter, penpal and friend, @ricker. Well, that, and the charming video for Getcha Good.

I had never heard of her before his suggestion (despite her somewhat popularity for contributing Dreamer as the theme song to Canadian drama “Heartland”), so I was surprised that the show was close to sold out on the morning before the show. Even more surprised that the ‘Shoe was full when I, notoriously ridiculously early to venues before concerts, showed up.

I found a spot to set up my gear and quickly became aware of the fact that I was surrounded by a great deal of Toronto’s GLBT community. I didn’t know that Jenn Grant appealed to that particular sect, and rummaged my brain for what little info I’ve had, clips I’ve seen, or the CBC interview I heard, and nothing came to mind.

A light bulb flashed above my head: Eureka! I hadn’t considered the opening acts. Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, the first band, didn’t seem to hold the attention of the entire room (but did much better than I expected!), so I took to the Blackberry to Google the evening’s second opening act, Rae Spoon. I’m glad to report that the first line in Rae’s Wikipedia article explains that he’s a female-to-male transgender, which provided context to not only the large, enthusiastic crowd, but also how, one taking the stage, he sang with the voice of an angel.

OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but his voice is really pretty. His genre, however, is a strange hybrid informed by the folk and country music of Alberta-raised youth to electronic dance music inspired by his travels to Germany. Rae’s songs themselves are strongest, at least live, when they lean more to the former than the latter.

Backed by only a laptop, the electronic and dance elements sound exceptionally flat and under produced in a live setting. But you can hear how well his voice would fit with monstrous, heavily-produced backing tracks usually afforded to recorded counterparts. A cover of Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl” (playfully flipped around to overturn its misogynists overtones, Rae performed it as “Rich Boy”) was a fun exception to the rule: the simplistic under-production worked in his favor.

The set rarely, if ever, suffered because of incongruity. His charm carried him through even the weaker moments, often interrupting mid-song to inject a short anecdote or a self-depreciating quip. It’s safe to say that anyone in the room who didn’t arrive a fan left as one.

01. Lighthouse
02. Death By Elektro
03. You Like All The Parties
04. There Is A Light (But It’s Not For Everyone)
05. [banter]
06. Love Is A Hunter
07. We Can’t Be Lovers With These Guns On Each Other
08. [banter]
09. DangerDagnerDanger
10. [banter]
11. Rich Girl [Hall and Oates]
12. [banter]
13. Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down
14. [banter]
15. You Can Dance

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Lighthouse (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

Thanks to Rae Spoon, @ricker, and the Horseshoe Tavern.

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