By Chris Vasseur Photos by Tracy Creighton (Copperblue Photography & Design)
A hazy night in Saskatoon. Hazy from the fires in Alberta and B.C.….too bad. Would be a beautiful night outside otherwise.
But tonight it doesn't matter because inside the Capitol Music Club, there is something going on to get you out of the smoke. All month they have been celebrating their 9th anniversary as one of Saskatoon's most recognised, frequented and respected live music venues.
I personally haven’t been here (for a show) since the Sadie’s played with Kacy and Clayton, which was a magical evening of crazy good music. So, I'm excited. I haven’t been a big fan of bar shows in a time, mostly because of the noise and the sweat/close proximity of strangers. I like a nice chair now….perhaps a nice Madonna (a popular signature cocktail) by the lovely purple fire pit. It’s sour by the way, just like the real Madonna. Jokes, I love sour treats and also Madonna’s pre 2000 or so catalog. The Capitol shows don’t feel like bar shows, they feel like venue shows that feature a bar, as it should be. The sound is amazing here (courtesy of one Colin Klassen), and the place is owned mostly by musicians (I think?). Anyway, I think I like bar shows again.
I got my comfy chair by the fire and am ready to watch three bands I know very little about. This is an exciting place for me as a writer and as a music fan. I mean, I watched a few vids from each band but didn’t dive in as I wanted fresh ears for my account of the evening.
The lights go down right on the button of 9 o’clock as the 5 piece Amos the Kid take the capitol stage. 2 guitars, bass, drum and keys bring a nice groove to the room. This band has a cool sound, I can tell right away. They are from the lovely “sister city” of Winnipeg. The guitars have a great interaction and combined with the bassist, the trio often rock out together in a tight triangle. The music is not quite heavy but it does indeed rock. Third song had a nice punk sound to it:). Cool band with great energy. Really dug the bassist's playing. Really catchy, well thought out songs. The room is starting to fill up by the end of their set.
Amos the Kid
Up next are the indie faves Scenic Route to Alaska from Edmonton. Also up next are some delicious onion rings that I just ordered. The onion rings are delicious as is the sound coming from the stage right after the singer asks “how you doing, Saskatoooooon!?” in true rock star fashion.
Some elder millennials join us briefly at the old seats announcing “it’s okay, we’re 30 plus”. Us forty plussers decided not to share our rings though and they soon left.
Scenic Route are great. Energetic like the first act. Nice harmonies and great delivery. The three piece sounds much fuller in number, they utilise every note. Really dig it. The venue/bar/venue is now almost full with people starting to gather at the front:). And they are into it! They tell us that the set list tonight is improvised which I love. They shout out the great sound guy Colin and co owner Leot Hanson (see Scott Roos feature article on that feller). They fucking love the Capitol, and so do we. He even adds that it’s one of the only venues where they don’t worry about no sound check. Some high praise.
They slip into a softer number and the guitar work is quite nice. A flowing melody that’s nicely accentuated by a frantic yet tender drum and bass backing.
The rest of the set has some nice sing-along-able tunes and a ton of that energy. This three piece oohs and na nas away with the guitarist expertly weaving his telecaster to the rhythm of the low end players.
We feel bad as they explain that they got a ticket coming from Regina to here in haste (thus the missed sound check). Thanks a lot Regina. They shake it off gingerly as they drift into a nice trippy, vibey little number with lots of slides and fiddley guitar bits that I’m a big fan of.
They finish the set with more catchy goodness like a few more great chanting songs and a Beatles inspired tune called closer! I’m singing along by the end (in my head anyway). Make that two bands I’ll be digging into further, that’s another thing I love about music....on top of everything.
Really enjoyed this set, Scenic Route to Alaska has got it all, I’m glad I got to see them. Parkland is coming up soon. They’re a little bit Regina and a little bit Saskatoon and I’m a little bit excited to see what this evening's swans song performance entails. A side hustle that formed during COVID featuring members of the great local band Close Talker, Parkland have finally taken the show on the road to much critical acclaim.
They sneak onstage and start playing, I’m not sure anyone noticed they were up there until the first mellow notes came flowing from the amplifiers. The bass drum kicks in and the song intensifies while still holding down a mellow flow. The pedal steel sounds great as the five piece swim in and out of folk and indie rock. A great combo in my opinion. “North of the Border” is such a great song. I think I recognise a member of Wolf Willow up there?
A rumbling bass drum starts the next tune. These guys are a mellow band but very well rehearsed and quite tight musically. They know where each other are at all times, it seems, and it’s very comfortable. Like the music. A warm cardigan of sound and heaven knows I love a cardigan…..I am sitting in the forty plus section after all.
The song erupts as a soaring guitar line brings the band and the song to a rowdy finish.
They talk of Jeff, a Regina friend and his breakfast of oranges and granola. Thanks for fuelling the music machine Jeff. Then the steel takes the spotlight again. I just adore that slide filled, twangy sound. I didn’t know it but I knew it....three for three on the night.
They seem like they walk a bit of a tightrope as a lot of bands do these days. With the Parklanders dipping into classic country, folk, indie rock and even sounding a bit like the Travelling Willburies at times. They even closed out the night with a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins "1979".
I call the night a rousing success even without the delicious nachos. Three new bands to dive in to usually means a great show and this was no exception.
Happy birthday Capitol, thanks for having us at this one….I love bar shows.