Concerts Concerts Great Bloomers Stronger than Ever Ahead of Cross-Canada Tour

Great Bloomers Stronger than Ever Ahead of Cross-Canada Tour

The Great Bloomers at the El Mocambo
Great Bloomers
Olenka & The Autumn Lovers, Kalle Mattson
El Mocambo in Toronto, Ontario
August 20th, 2010

Review by: Jen Polk
Photos by: Amanda Fotes

Pan-Ontario talent was on offer at El Mocambo's downstairs venue a few Friday's ago. Great Bloomers, headlining their first local show since their CD release party over a year ago, brought Olenka & the Autumn Lovers and the young Kalle Mattson along for support. Sound issues occasionally threatened to put a damper on the festivities, but a rocking closing set ensured the night ended on a high.

Great Bloomers

Most of the people at El Mocambo that night were there for the headliners, local folk-rock band Great Bloomers. As the band set up on stage, I found myself admist a group of exited fans right up front. It had been a while since I'd been front-and-centre at an event like this, and I was excited too! I noticed some new (to me) faces in the band's lineup (and their former keyboardist in the crowd). This show served as a warm-up for their cross-Canada fall tour.

Lowell Sostomi and his band-mates lead off with the A-side from their soon-to-be-released 7", "Small Town Love." (Listen to it on the band's MySpace page.) From the get-go, it was clear the new lineup was working very well. The fans around me were cheering enthusiastically, which added to the celebratory atmosphere. I got the sense that not a small number of people in the audience took personal pride in the band's successes. Sostomi is a strong front-man, with an impressive voice and great material to work with. Many crowd favourites were performed, as well as a few covers and newer songs. During "Admit Defeat" power troubles on stage left took guitarist Tim Moxam out of things for a couple minutes; even missing a key part, the song's strength was clear. Other favourites from 2009's Speak of Trouble that got sing-along action included "The Young Ones Slept," "Honey Blanket," "Catching Up" (from the band's first album), "This Ain't You," and the fantastic "Speak of Trouble."

The band is on tour starting today, so catch them on the road if you're outside Toronto (and inside Canada).

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Olenka & The Autumn Lovers

By the time Londoners Olenka & The Autumn Lovers came on, the downstairs of El Mocambo was buzzing — and I don't just mean the talkers at the bar area. Sound issues put a bit of a dampener of the set, but the band tried not to let the less-than-ideal situation get them down. For the uninitiated, older songs like "Flash In the Pan," "Soldier's Waltz," and "The Decline" still came though clearly enough to give audience members good sense of the quality of this act. "Ballad of Lonely Bear" showcases the band's eastern European flair. Among those I hadn't heard before, there were a few definite gems with beautiful harmonies. Undoubtedly the band's best outing of the evening was their final song. Leader Olenka Krakus et al. wore big smiles and displayed extra energy during it; their brighter spirits ensured the set ended well.

The band has a release set for mid-October. Based on what I heard through the chatter and feedback, it should be a great addition to my favourites!

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers at the El Mocambo   Olenka and the Autumn Lovers at the El Mocambo   Olenka and the Autumn Lovers at the El Mocambo   Olenka and the Autumn Lovers at the El Mocambo   Olenka and the Autumn Lovers at the El Mocambo  

Kalle Mattson

Sault Ste. Marie band Kalle Mattson opened the show. I'd never seen this band before, but they've been on my radar for a while, ever since I was sent tracks from their 2008 album, Whisper Bee. The album's folk-rock songs caught my attention.

On this night, the group of four produced some lovely folk-pop tunes, some Can-rock, and ended their set with a high octane blues number. Other than "Hall of Oats," which I recognized, I'm not sure I'd previously heard anything else they performed. I later found out the band's been recording songs for a second album, so that explains why there was so much new material. The set's final song was an unexpected surprise, and brought out the best in the guys. It can be hard for a band to get revved up performing in a mostly dead room in an oft-unforgiving town like Toronto, but at the end it was clear they can do it. My advice? Play what you love, Kalle Mattson, and your audience will love you back.

I'm keen to hear how the next album shapes up, and whether the band's seemingly rockier bent comes through.

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