Our Vancouver friend Kirk Hamilton is currently on his way to Toronto for NXNE on Tracks on Tracks. Here are his updates, courtesy of 3amrevelations.
After months of build-up and hype, Tracks on Tracks is finally upon us. The brain child of Green Couch Sessions, with a lot of help from both VIA Rail and CBC Radio 3, sees eleven musical acts hop aboard The Canadian, with a whole bunch of music fans, heading from Vancouver to Toronto and rolling in to the city just in time for North by Northeast.
The first night was simple enough, starting at the Pacific Central station as bands slowly filtered in, with a couple platform shows.
Adaline was up first, performing solo but still managed to keep her electro-pop energy. Playing keys, she also had her drum and bass backtracks present, giving her a full sound. Her strong voice filled the platform, and even though she was a bit quiet, she still ended up winning over a lot of the, er, older folks… that had no idea what they were in store for on the train.
Next was Maurice, who was joined by fellow Victoria musician Lindsay Bryan and Kiana Brasset joined him of violin for a couple songs. His more relaxed, acoustic set suffered a little more that Adaline’s from the low volume, especially with the bustle of more and more people showing up. But songs like the insanely catchy “Mistake” and “All I Ever Wanted” still grabbed people’s attention.
And then finally, everyone boarded the train and it pulled away from the station, slowly taking us from Vancouver to Toronto. The first night was a little subdued, likely due to the fact that we left at 8:30, and everyone was still settling in for the night. But today we’ll see shows from Chris Ho, Adaline, Sidney York, The Matinee, and The Belle Game, as well as a stop in Jasper, AB.
Day two began somewhere in the middle of BC, with some people decorating the Green Couch car and interviews aplenty as the Green Couch people and Grant Lawrence from CBC Radio 3 talked to a few of the bands.
The first performance of the day was in the afternoon, Chris Ho in one of the train cars as we were pulling in to Jasper. Chris was joined by Kiana Brasset and a couple other bandmates for a stripped down, but upbeat folksy set. After a few catchy songs, he wrapped up with an appropriate cover of a certain Aidan Knight song as the train pulled into the station.
The stop in Jasper featured a couple more platform shows as they got the green couch off the train for The Matinee and Sidney York to play a pair of acoustic songs each in the rain. The Matinee went with “L’Absinthe “ and “Sweet Water”, getting a lot of the passengers in the station stomping, and Sidney York got people bopping along to “Mile High Love” and “Dick & Jane.”
Back on the train, car shows started back up with Adaline. Due to some technical problems, she didn’t have a keyboard this time, but an acoustic guitar. She was a little nervous to just be playing on guitar, but soldiered on like a pro. Part way through her first song, a voice from the back of the car joined in, a voice belonging to Adrian Glynn, who joined her for the rest of the set. They harmonized on some of the songs they had worked on in the past, some of Adaline’s and even one of Glynn’s, and for “Whiter/Straighter” they went a capella and got those with rhythm in the car to snap and clap along.
With the intimate space of the last car on the train, and the beautiful scenery disappearing into the distance right behind them, it was a pretty amazing set, and definitely one of my favourites so far.t
After some (delicious) dinner, Sidney York and The Belle Game were playing in a different car – they had four cars total set up for live shows; three smaller and more acoustic and one main Green Couch Car.
Sidney York had the full band set up, and a lot of the folks who were on the train not knowing about the project happened by, and it seemed like a good number of them were won over by their enthusiastic and infectious indie pop. Even in a confined space, Brandi was bouncing up and down behind her keyboard and the band was rocking the train.
The Belle Game was next, but as they were literally two notes in they blew the fuse, rendering half their equipment powerless. But they rolled with the punches and played an entirely stripped down set instead. “Sleep To Grow” started the set, and they were joined by the lovely ladies of Sidney York to add bassoon, oboe and french horn to the grandiose ending of the song. They were only able to play a few songs, due to the power issue taking up most of their time, but it was really cool to see them that basic. So far two of the best performances were born from equipment failures.
Later on in the night was a full set from Maurice in the Green Couch car. People packed in, sitting on the floor for more of a rocking set from JP and his band, as opposed to the platform show from the day before. He played for about a half hour and ended with his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, slipping in a couple fun top 40 songs; “Teenage Dream” and “Moves Like Jagger”, all of which had everyone singing along as the train pulled into Edmonton and picked up the last of the bands, Shred Kelly.
And the day wrapped up, music-wise, in the best way it could have; a Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party. It’s nearly impossible to describe the events of the set, but the Green Couch car was absolutely packed with people — many of which were, in fact, topless by the end of the set — and everyone jumping and dancing, shaking the car to the bands incredibly fun dancey pop sounds. There was a lot of singing and clapping along to songs, like their self titled “Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party”, and they were even called back for one more song, a slower, quieter one to wrap up the night.
Tomorrow is another packed day with shows on the train from Shred Kelly, The Matinee, Portage and Main, a stop in Melville, SK and the big free show tonight at Winnipeg at the Forks; the only actual-venue show of the trip!
We pull in (and out) of Saskatoon as day three began with more bustle in the morning, until the next stop in the small town of Melville, Saskatchewan where there was to be a platform show. The train was running late, however, so there wasn’t chance of a full show, but they opened one of the doors on a baggage car for newly acquired Shred Kelly to play a whirlwind set for nearly the whole town, including The Mayor!
The afternoon saw more cabin shows with Portage & Main and The Matinee, both stripped down. Portage took advantage of the setting and played some of their slower songs, like “Rocky Mountain Wanderer” (despite being in the middle of the prairies) and The Matinee crammed into the back of the Park Car, at the very end of the train. They had some assistance from Kiana Brasset on violin (and Grant Lawrence on woos) as they serenaded the car in front of the vast prairie landscape disappearing behind them.
The scheduled show at the Forks in Winnpeg didn’t quite go as planed. The train rolled in late making a much more rushed than anticipated; instead of the two-hour show, we were only in town for less than half an hour. Chris Ho played a few songs, followed by an obligatory set from the appropriately named Portage & Main, including their rocking (and train themed) newer song “Sweet Darlin”
It was then a game of hurry up and wait as we rushed back to the station but the train still wasn’t quite ready, so there were a few impromptu songs in the station; first Zach & Adrian, then Maurice and finally Lindsey Bryan.
We pulled out of The Peg and it was right back to the music with Shred Kelly rocking their self proclaimed “stoke folk.” Their great energy and enthusiasm was bolstered by co-vocals from the lovely Sage McBride and the blurry fingers of Tim Newton’s banjo picking, breaking a string in the middle of the set – which was immediately re-strung as the drummer and bassist filled the potential awkward pause. The wrapped up their set with “Tornado Alley,” which built to a huge, amazing ending.
Portage and Main was up next for another full out rock set, backed by Pete and Mike from The Matinee on drums and bass respectively. The banter between John and Harold was their usual self-deprecating joking; playing off each other well and the aforementioned train-themed “Sweet Darling” nearly blew the roof off the train car. They ended with a massive sing along to “Oh Carolina” with the entire car belting out the chorus.
And The Matinee closed out the night in a way only they could, with another all out rocking set. They shook the train car as everyone stomped along to “L’Absinthe” and “The Road”, using the walls of the train and random instruments for the usual drum breakdown, but they were urged back for one more, a cover (their third of the night) of Tom Petty’s “Running Down A Dream”
There were a few more scheduling glitches and some miscommunication the third day, and an illness that may have sidelined Sidney York from the rest of the train, but beyond that,
MORE COMING SOON!