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I'm an Irish guy living in France. I like music, books, creative writing, art, history, vegetarianism, people, and chocolate.

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Friday 20 November 2009

Balloons, Toothbrushes and Jetpacks

Another great gig at the cabaret of the Cartonnerie... Cultural activities are getting better and better in this city, I do think Reims is slowly waking up.

Libelul was an unoriginal but enjoyable indie pop duo from Brussels, which sounded a bit like Death Cab for Cutie or Jimmy Eat World with a hint of electronica.

Then came the main support act, the Swedish Thus:Owls, (pictured above) fronted by a girl who was sporting a Joni Mitchell-like dress and who sang like Shara Worden from My Brightest Diamond. The band was obviously influenced by celtic music, but there was a heavy dose of psychedelia and quite a dark edge. It wasn't unlike what I imagine goth folk band Espers would sound like if they started covering the seventies psych folk band Trees...

Finally Patrick Watson (below) started playing... I love the indescribable form of baroque pop of his albums (in 2007 he won the Polaris Music Prize for best Canadian album, beating fellow nominees Feist and the Arcade Fire), but I was expecting Watson to be one of those pretentious singer/songwriters who stare at their piano keys during the whole concert.
But he actually turned out to be very charismatic, and great at engaging the audience. He kept cracking jokes with his bandmates and chatting away to us in his Quebecan French. He got everyone singing happy birthday for one of the sound technicians, and for the encore, he walked through the audience, singing into a strange Tim Burton-like contraption which was strapped on his back and that he called the "megasuit". It basically looked like a jetpack with half a dozen megaphones sticking out of it. His band made use of instruments in some of the most creative ways I've ever seen. The guitarist did things I've never seen anyone do with a guitar (he played it with a toothbrush at one point); the drummer/percussionist would often draw a bow against a saw; and there were also balloons, Fischer Price kiddies toys, toothpicks and countless other weird objects-turned-instruments... It was one of the most entertaining and "interactive" gigs I've ever been to. And it just shows you that you can make "serious" music without taking yourself seriously. Very refreshing.

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