Concerts Concerts Ramona Falls Gets Emotional

Ramona Falls Gets Emotional

Ramona Falls at The Drake
Ramona Falls
The Drake Underground in Toronto, ON
June 8, 2012

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

With the broadest and most genuine smiles that you'll find outside of a kindergarten classroom, Ramona Falls let it all out at the Drake Underground last week for their first Canadian visit.

Since the act is on road in support of their sophomore LP, Prophet, there was no surprise in Friday's set being heavy with tracks from the April release. The album itself is a clear evolution from its predecessor, 2009's Intuit, and seems to play more on the big and bright instrumentals that had showed their face more gingerly on the previous work (also showing more than a glimmer of the loftiness of lead Brent Knopf's previous act Menomena, in which he contributed for a decade). The likeness between the new album and the old band, though, is overshadowed by the differences between the two efforts – namely, the heart-on-your-sleeve sincerity that Ramona Falls throws out so unabashedly.

That openness with emotion also came to the stage during the recent Toronto performance. Live renditions of pieces from the new album were spirited, seeming to rely less on the the vocals that are more of a focus in the recordings – vocals that, while often bearing a strong similarity from track to track, have a certain comforting feel to them that is distinct to Ramona Falls. New piece "Spore" closed the set in a bridled roll that had pulses a-thumping, while the ferocious “Fingerhold” was bold and brash in its live form, played with heft while hyenas caused chaos via background video.

Don't misunderstand, though. This was not a heavy show, but simply had some surprising pacing when measured against the act's gentler recorded way. In true form, "Proof" was slow and touching and full of feeling, and the night's featured tracks from Intuit were often softer, but rarely timid. Their performance of "Melectric" was an easy heart-string tugger, and the band's definitive tune "Russia" was unarguably the most passionately performed piece of the evening (and arguably the most passionate part of their library).

Between songs and during, those broad smiles didn't dim and the act was engaging, even the band's green guitarist of one month, Brandon Laws, whose limited experience with the act ruled out any chance of an encore (jokingly, they explained that they were perfectly glad to give up the stage to the Friday night DJ's anyhow). All in all, Ramona Falls' performance at The Drake Underground (a space Knopf spoke of, saying “I wish every venue were this beautiful”) was full of controlled fire, and had its own beauty perfectly suited to the room where it all played out.

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