Ben Caplan, Battle Mountain Band
Rivoli in Toronto, ON
August 17, 2012
Review by: Melissa Adamson
Photos by: Pete Nema
Battle Mountain Band, Amos the Transparent, and Ben Caplan inspired the Rivoli audience to partake in a night full of dancing and singing.
Battle Mountain Band
"Strap yourselves in," Battle Mountain Band said to the audience before launching into their set at full force. The crowd, buzzing with anticipation at the front of the stage, paid no attention to this warning and it is fair to say that they were all blown away.
It was only their second show, but it looked and sounded like Battle Mountain Band had been performing together for years. Their chemistry was undeniable and their enthusiasm was contagious. It is refreshing to listen to a band with more than one strong vocalist, and Battle Mountain Band has four talented musicians who share the lead.
Comprised of Alex Newman (The Fully Down), Brent Jackson (The Junction), Nick Harris (Goddamn Robots), Trevor James (Trevor James and the Perfect Gentleman) and Mike Taylor (The Junction) on drums, Battle Mountain Band is a local indie supergroup of sorts. Or, as their Twitter bio says, "like the Traveling Wilburys, only we aren't famous." However, based on the crowd's enthusiastic reaction, I think more people will be talking about them soon.
When they started their set with "My Weekend", the opening track on their album Can't Do It, it was immediately clear that each member brings something special to the band. Trevor brings the witty stage banter and the power vocals, with a voice that sounds similar to Ben Birdwell (Band of Horses) and Steven Page, but with more grit. Alex and Nick add a punk flavour to the overall folk rock sound. Along with his clear vocals, Brent brings the stage energy as he dances and plays the tambourine.
Black Mountain Band's lively stage banter only helped to enhance their incredible performance. Laughter filled the audience when the band turned a sweet thank you to Amos the Transparent into a joke about borrowing their equipment and girlfriends. Later they dedicated "Hey You Get off of My Cloud" to Jesus, before encouraging everyone to sing along. They are true performers and you can't help but smile and have a good time through their set.
Amos the Transparent
The seven members of Amos the Transparent crowded the Rivoli stage with their presence and filled the venue with their unique sound — a sound that has grown and evolved with the band over the past few years into a mixture of their familiar light and playful pop, with a new delicate yet dark rock edge.
Having listened to the group in anticipation all day, I came fueled for a great performance and they did not disappoint. They lit up the stage and filled the Rivoli with glowing and smiling faces. Through the dynamic sound produced by the horns, percussion, strings and guitar, Jonathan Chandler's smooth voice floated effortlessly and expanded to fill the entire venue. All the while, all around were couples with their arms around each other, swaying and dancing to the music, and hugging and kissing throughout the set. Amos the Transparent seems to be the band you go see with your significant other or close group of friends.
The set peaked at the middle with "Lemons" and "Coming Home", and these songs drew a lot of attention from the crowd, who cheered and sang along. Everyone fed off of each other's energy and danced to the music, band included. Near the end of the set, several audience members even spontaneously joined the band on stage to provide back-up vocals. It is clear that Amos the Transparent has a strong and loyal group of fans, and they are easily making new ones with their powerful live performance.
To end the night, the animated and boisterous Ben Caplan kept the small and mighty audience awake with an energized acoustic performance. His powerful vocals enhanced his passionate lyrics, to create a sound that I can only describe as ferocious. There was a touching honesty in his lyrics and his open dialogue with the audience, and you just couldn't help but feel his emotions through his songs.
It is clear that Ben Caplan is willing to lay it all on the line and to ensure that every minute of his sets are full of energy. During "I Got Me A Woman," Ben jumped off the stage and initiated a sing-off with an audience member who was already enthusiastically singing and dancing along, and I imagine that he brings the same power and liveliness to every performance.