Arts, Events, The Muse

Getting the word on Plants and Animals

Last Saturday, Montreal trio Plants and Animals performed at T. T. the Bears with openers The Painted Lights and Lost In The Trees.

Boston natives The Painted Lights had a loyal following of screaming fans as they opened the night. The slightly tipsy fans cheered Brendan Little, Brion Regan, Ross Lohr and Tim Hare on as they powered through their last two songs with a steady Gaslight Anthem-ish rocking sound that was heavy on the drums and easy on the ears. At one point, drummer Ross Lohr was seen playing his drums with mallets, making the sound rich and a little muted at the same time.
Clad in hoodies, v-necks and plaid, the foursome ended their set with hugs all around.
The Word: Connected. “I felt like we were all friends with them,” says B.U. senior Stephanie Madden. “We could’ve been in a garage. Or a house. It was just really intimate.”
Next up were North Carolina band Lost in the Trees, who hauled their instruments on stage, revealing a three-piece string set, a French horn, bells, a synth machine, an accordion and a bass tuba alongside the classic acoustic guitar, electric bass and drums set up, easily outnumbering the band’s seven members.
Singer/guitarist Ari Picker, cellist Drew Anagnost, baritone tuba/bassist Mark Daumen and drummer Yan Westerlund sported resplendent beards on par with Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold’s own Jesus beard. The three women – cellist Leah Gibson, violinist Jenavieve Varga, and French horn/accordion/bells/recorder/singer Emma Nadeau – were also gorgeous in their dresses.
The mix of mountain men and classy ladies paralleled the beautiful sound that resonated from the stage as soon as they started playing. The smooth, swelling strings complimented the folksy, bluesy and, at times, unexpectedly rocking notes of the “band” instruments.
Picker’s clear, brutally honest voice alongside Nadeau’s crooning and lyrics like “so now I like to swim/to the bottom of the ocean/there I’ll scream as loud as I can/where there’s no one I can frighten” made songs like “Song For the Painter” and “All Alone in an Empty House” instant favorites.
The crowd responded warmly, and was a little confused when Picker stepped down off the stage during the second song, seemingly singing to his band.
He was actually checking the sound.
Later on, the pounding unce-unce-unce from Dead Milkmen, who were playing downstairs, prompted Picker to ask “D’you hear that house beat? Is that next door? Jesus.”
They tried to combat the beat with a slow number, but lost the dream-like hold of their previous songs. Lost in the Trees picked up their momentum once again with the next song, and the quick transitions between strings and guitar were reminiscent of a jig.
Suddenly, after wild gestures to the sound guy in the back, Picker exclaimed “I can’t hear anything on this stage, so we’re gonna come down there and play with you guys.”
Thus, Lost in the Trees ended their set and two-month tour in the audience, leading them in a sing-along while avoiding collisions with bows and mallets.
The Word: Indefinable. Although Picker’s voice sounded a little like Connor Oberst (Bright Eyes), and the overall sound was a little Fleet Foxes-y, Lost in the Trees has a truly unique orchestral/blues/folk-rock sound.
Finally, Plants and Animals took the stage. The Montreal natives were ready and rarin’ to go as they kicked off their set with five guitars and a sweatshirt that was way too small.
Drummer Warren Spicer, Singer/guitarist Matthew “the Woodman’ Woodley, and tiny-hoodied guitarist Nicolas Basque had long, rocking, epic, guitar-shredding solos in every song. Their fun-loving, indie-rock sound was a great blend of awesome lyrics &- “It takes a good friend to tell you/ you’ve got your head up your ass” &- and sheer talent as they sweated buckets and rocked out on stage.
The band played eleven songs, with two more as an encore. Their second song channeled Billy Idol with popping Eighties beats – “I wanna give everything up for grabs… I want to dance. I want to dance. I want to dance” – and got the crowd in the right mood, following with some crowd-pleasers from Parc Avenue (2008) and their newest album La La Land (2010).
For their fifth song, they changed the name from “Feedback in the Field” to “Feedback in Cape Cod” in honor of their mini-vacation there before ending the tour in Boston. Woodley interjected with a slightly disgusting but totally awesome story about finding a fish inside another, bigger fish, ending the gruesome tale of gutting and exploring stomach contents with “blobs of alien slime! Jeepers.”
Plants and Animals ended their set with disco lighting and “The Mama Papa.” Before leaving, they invited Lost in the Trees to come up on stage, which all seven of them did, to sing “Bye Bye Bye.” At one point, Basque laid his guitar flat on his knee, placed the recorder on top, and played while Lost in the Trees kept the pile from falling over. Both bands and the audience ended the set in a very fitting way &- chorusing “Bye bye bye” all around.
The Word(s): Pleasantly surprising. On myspace, Plants and Animals are decidedly low-key, but they are absolutely epic live.

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