Capsule Review: ROYAL CANOE @ The Drake Underground (CMW 2012 – Day 2)
It probably doesn’t come as any surprise to any regular (or semi-regular) readers of The iM that we had high expectations for Winnipeg electro-rock sextet ROYAL CANOE – and it’s without saying that their set on CMW 2012 Day 2 at The Drake Underground was easily one of the best we’ve experienced in recent memory (even those shows beyond the festival’s scope).
Following up his previous musical project THE WAKING EYES, Matt Peters and company have ever so slowly been pushing things towards the electro-rock front since dropping their video game reference -titled debut LP Co-Op Mode in July 2010. Their latest release – the four-track EP Extended Play – was a quick favourite of ours so I was excited to catch these guys in person to see if the hype was merited for the live show.
Luckily, it was.
“This is the second last show of our tour,” says Peters on stage two songs into the set. “We’ve been going for five weeks – we started in Winnipeg, went over to Vancouver, went all the way down and played California, SXSW, New York… kind of like a donut… we kind of missed middle America… so… what does that say about our politics? I don’t know… Just kidding.”
The band oozes a relaxed quality on stage, sharing banter with those closest to the front in between songs and doing it all with smiles on their faces, even after all those long days and nights on the road.
Musically, the act is tight and filled with energy – which is all the more impressive with the off-rhythm breakdowns, overdubbed sampling, three-and-four-part vocal harmonies, and dual drummers playing in sync to back the whole thing.
Though fans of the band may have come to this particular show based on the indie rock of previous releases, the majority of this set consisted of newer and unreleased electro-tinged and vocoder-prominent material – a suggestion that a new full-length is on the horizon and that it’s much more in line with the group’s musical ambitions.
Add in a special 3.5″ floppy disk merch purchase which includes a ROYAL CANOE themed MS-DOS game – filled with electronic MIDI music we’re sure* – and you’ve got yourself an amusing fan-service-friendly band if we’ve ever seen one.
Keep your eyes peeled for more from ROYAL CANOE in the future: if we had to bank money on a Canadian band to break open your piggy bank for – this is sure as hell one of em’.
*[EDITOR'S NOTE: Even though we do possess the ever-rare floppy drive, we were unable to verify the exact contents of this MS-DOS game, as the disk in question apparently does not play well with the 64-bit version of Windows 7.... or Safe Mode Command Prompt]