Emotions ran high at the Biltmore this night, as fans anticipated the return of criminally under-appreciated Canadian rock ‘n’ roll machine Shotgun Jimmie, in town promoting his newest album Everything Everything.
As time passed, angst set in among eager crowd members when the show, which had an 11 p.m. curfew and supposedly three bands, did not start until 9:30 p.m. Luckily, tension was eased by the hazy-yet-danceable soundscapes of locals Gal Gracen, who soaked the slowly filling Biltmore in reverb with their dreamy indie pop. Gal Gracen turned in a solid and enthusiastic performance, but as the curfew grew closer, fans began to wonder if Jimmie’s set would be compromised by those of the opening bands. Luckily this was not the case.
Shortly after Gal Gracen left the stage, Shotgun Jimmie unceremoniously set up and ripped into “Standing in a Line,” a fast and trashy opener from his acclaimed new album, Everything Everything. Still relying on the one man band approach that Jim Kilpatrick has developed over the past couple of years, Jimmie had no trouble executing songs from throughout his repertoire by playing both the snare and kick drums with his feet, while playing guitar (but sometimes shaker and even a ride cymbal) with his hands.
Though that approach may seem like a novelty on paper, the focus was on Jimmie’s impossibly clever lyrics, his raw and ravaging guitar tone, and his overall charm as a performer. His personable songs dictated the show’s mood as a small but dedicated group gathered at the front of the stage, dancing and singing along with Jimmie’s upbeat musical anecdotes of love, partying, and life in general.
Understandably, the set list focused mainly on his “hot new album” (as Jimmie half-jokingly referred to it), but fans were also treated to scorching versions of would-be classics like “Used Parts,” “Late Last Year,” “Waist Deep in the Water,” and a particularly ragged version of the anthem “Swamp Magic” from 2011’s Transistor Sister.
On one hand, it’s a damn shame that Shotgun Jimmie seems to fly just under the radar of many Canadian music listeners. On the other hand, the intimacy of small shows like this one make Jimmie’s sets seem like drunken, 45-minute-long high fives. That feeling could not have been better exemplified than in “Swamp Magic,” as the crowd and Jimmie joyfully ended the set by hollering repeatedly that, “There’s enough people here to stay up all night / There’s enough people here to start a band, all right!” An inspiring way to end an inspiring set.