Real Live Action

Plants and Animals / DRMHLLR


Biltmore Cabaret; March 18, 2009

Review By Colin Throness

On the night after St. Patrick’s Day, hundreds of people piled into the sold-out show at the Biltmore, hung over, halfway through the week and hungry for escape. It was provided.

First up, DRMHLLR was a pleasant surprise—their long, watery jams whet our appetites, and their lack of vocals allowed us to fill in the dinosaur imagery suggested by their name. But if they lacked real innovation onstage, they’d soon learn from Plants and Animals.

The trio is made up of three animals: frontman Warren C. Spicer, drummer (and Spicer’s childhood friend) Matthew “the Woodman” Woodley and Nicolas Basque, their multi-talented bass player whom they met in the music department at Concordia University. Their wonderful sound, embodied beautifully by the Juno-nominated album Parc Avenue, has achieved that perfect balance between familiar and new. Their website mentions folk-prog and post-classic-rock. Whatever you want to call it, there’s an interesting science at work in their songs, musically and in the writing—a dreamlike quality that explores a variety of affectations and natural progressions.

The show had too many highlights to mention here. But “Bye Bye Bye” was amazing, so much so that the crowd erupted deafeningly during the climactic harpsichord-infused break (note to loud drunk guy: don’t scream out “Pwants and Animarrghs!” right before their most poignant progression, no matter how excited you are). Spicer insisted they double back and do it again—great stuff.

The encore was explosive, too: they closed out the show jamming out a long and upbeat song that none of us had heard before and had us all wondering out loud long after the show had ended. The consensus was that it was an improvisation of several songs overlaid with a rendition of “Sinner Man” reminiscent of Nina Simone’s version.

One thing I will say for certain: these guys are going to be very big. Can you say “the next Arcade Fire”? Many have. And when they did, their hearts trembled and old dreams stirred. Try it out—it’s nice, isn’t it? Okay, now sing, “What’s gonna happen to you? Bye, bye, bye! You have woken up too soon!”