. : : March 23rd, 2011 : : .
With the onset of the Junofest the following night, Matt Pond‘s set Wednesday evening, opening for Rocky Votolato at the Drake Underground, almost slipped through the cracks.
As you might have been able to tell from the last update, things got really busy, really quickly. Even my Rocky Votolato blog post felt really phoned-in and half-assed. I can’t promise much more from this one, but I’ll give’r a go.
Matt Pond took the stage with a very stripped down band — just himself, Chris Hansen on lead guitar, and a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch on the cello. For about half the set, Matt performed rhythm guitar himself, but seemingly just as often, he just sang. If you can imagine what just a voice, guitar and cello sound like, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the set was like.
That being said, Matt is soft-spoken and sings just as softly. The music is predictably very down tempo, but the arrangements and melodies are intricate and pretty. It was remarkable how quiet the audience was for the set, especially considering uncommanding his stage presence is. Matt himself even mentioned a couple of times how “polite” and Canadian we were being, and gave us permission to talk during the set if we so wanted — but I didn’t hear any new conversations starting up from where I was. A kind, Canadian compliment if I’ve ever seen one.
Clocking in at over 45-minutes, the set didn’t quite feel long so much as it did feel super-sized. Especially considering Rocky’s headlining set was only twenty-minutes longer, it seemed more like a co-headlining performance. Not that I’m complaining, but it was an unexpected surprise.
What I will complain about, however, is Matt’s introducing almost ever song with the painfully obvious statement, “This is a song.” The first time, it was funny. Second time, maybe even cute. By the third time, though, I wanted to shake him and yell at him to either properly and respectfully introduce his songs, or to stop doing it at all. It’s actually much to the artists benefit to introduce the titles, at the very least, of their songs — it gives the audience something specific to look for at the merch table. Looking at the backs of CDs and not recognizing any of the titles means a sale is likely lost. I guarantee Rocky’s repeated vouching for The Dark Leaves did more to stimulate sales than the running gag.
Speaking of whom, Rocky joined the band to perform guitar and backing vox on New Hampshire, but his stronger voice almost completely superseded Matt’s. Luckily, their voices worked really well together, and the already attentive audience was transfixed by the addition of the headliner, effectively stopping any chatter in the room.
It was a nice, enjoyable set that benefited from being a part of a singer-songwriter tour. I can see how Matt would have much greater difficulty capturing as attentive an audience when juxtaposed with livelier, upbeat, traditional indie rock bands. But on this night, it worked well.
- East Coast E.
- Wild Girl
- Amazing Life
- [new song?]
- Canadian Song
- New Hampshire *
- Bring On The Ending
- Last Song
* Featuring Rocky Votolato
Thanks to Matt Pond and band, Rocky Votolato, the lovely Drake Underground, et al.