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January 23, 2011

The Half Full Sieve – review of Lotus Child band

Montreal got a rare treat tonight. See, for the past couple of years, catchy piano-driven power pop numbers have been drifting across the ether, emanating from Vancouver. And tonight, fans in Montreal were able to catch a glimpse of the source: Lotus Child played a humble crowd at Petit Campus.

For some time now Lotus Child have been working well within the Vancouver indie scene. Their intelligent lyrics, catchy hooks and toe-tapping melodies have managed to enchant listeners across the music spectrum. And coming out to a crowd in Montreal is always a challenge. Tom and Miles sauntered up the stairs leading to Petit Campus at about the same time that early fans were lining up: they were carrying a small suitcase with them, which later was found out to contain their merchandise. They united with Peter and Zach inside and disappeared backstage a few minutes before they were scheduled to go on. And then, amidst the conversation, four figures took the stage silently, said a few words, and launched into “No Talking.” All this while people still kept talking.

This is exactly the kind of band Lotus Child is right now. They started their set off slowly, meandering their way through “No Talking,” seemingly testing both themselves and the audience. It was not for lack of confidence — I remember Zach telling a much smaller crowd in a bar in Calgary that they were used to playing even smaller crowds, so no one should feel embarrassed or shy. And perhaps the first time you hear Lotus Child, you agree with them, perhaps nodding your head a little to show. But, it is very possible that it is a topical agreement, done in the fervor of the moment, in the flow of conversation. And, unfortunately, many bands stop here.

Lotus Child built their set up quickly. People soon stopped talking through the songs as Zach chattered between songs in French — though not about sex, drugs or his love for Miles — those were in English only. And just like the audience gained confidence in the band, the fans leading those who were there to see the headlining act, so too did the band seem to find their energy. By the time they hit “Had to Laugh” and “Lids,” Tom was demolishing his keyboard with rag-time enthusiasm, Zach was cradling the microphone like it was his lost Kate (or was it his lost medication?), Peter was stepping lightly over the bass line, helping Miles propel the band forward on the drums.

Not only did they work their way through many songs from Gossip Diet, their debut full-length album (though I was sad that they didn’t include anything from their previous EP), they also took the time to play some newer treats, seeding expectations for their sophomore attempt. I was pleased to hear that their material is maturing appropriately. “No Talking” is energetic and frustrated, and, for the life of me, I can’t get the chorus out of my head. They also played a song so new that they had only laid down the piano track for it: during “These Days” (not to be confused with “These Colours”) Miles and Peter sat on stage like children while Zach shed his guitar and sang alongside Tom’s piano. The scene was fitting for a band that has everything in front of them: their innocence and playful nature betrays the sometimes cynical and critical edge of their songs, which can make them all the more effective, especially in a live setting.

When Zach asked the band what was next, as in what song to play next, wondering how close to the end of the set they were, he also seemed to be asking the crowd what was in the future for the band. Thankfully, someone in the group of perhaps 50 yelled out “more!” And as they launched into “Archaeologists” — a song that can fully compete with anything else on the radio today — they were at their energetic peak. Looking around at the tumultuous applause after the extended rendition was done, complete with a standing ovation, one cannot help but imagine that one day in the near future, the band will be rewarded for their tireless work. Near the end of the set, Zach thanked everyone in the crowd, saying that it was a very special thing to come so far and be received so warmly. But, he added mischievously, we would never know the feeling. And yet, the image of a crowd of thousands energetically chorusing “There’re bodies everywhere” back to the band. And it would be a very special thing to see them go so far and welcome them warmly. We will know the feeling.

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