On the night of January 30, a crowd of overly talkative people packed themselves into the quaint backroom of Casa Del Popolo at 9:00pm. Though it was perfectly fine for the crowd to be chatting amongst themselves before the show’s 10:00pm start, the talking continued well into the performance itself, becoming particularly disruptive during the second act. This was their loss, however, as those who weren’t paying attention missed out on something nearly magical that night.
Starting off the night was the unique and incredible Ottawa-based alternative folk-rock band, Amos The Transparent. They displayed great stage presence and charisma, cracking a few jokes and getting the audience laughing, which they proceeded to do continuously throughout their set. Singer Jonathan Chandler had a good vocal range and blew away the audience with his first song, as well as with their performance of “Burin Peninsula” off the album This Cold Escape. Throughout the set this band was unlike any other, playing guitar, bass, drums, cello, and keyboard. For one song they even played the electric guitar with a bow, making for a more than interesting sound. Though their anecdotes were amusing, they began to get a tad too lengthy towards the fourth song, and they no longer captured the audience’s attention. Luckily, their cover of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” saved them, as the audience swayed to it and sang along. Their stage presence returned to being as good as it was at the start, and the vocal harmonies during their performance of “That’s the Life” made it their best performance of the evening. Having such a wonderful sound was sure to send listeners back to psychedelic times. They finished up with a slower folk song, similar to the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers but with differently styled vocals.
Po Lazarus went directly into their first song without a word, and they had the crowd’s attention hooked in seconds. Singer Joshua Carey’s voice was absolutely mesmerizing- so incredible that it is impossible for words to do it justice. His voice, with an incredible range and a smooth sound, seemed to have roots in blues-rock, but was even stronger. The songs alternated between fast beats and slow sensual rhythms. With the second song came the first use of the ukulele, which added a surprising amount of energy to every song in which it was played. Carey (vocals) and Paul Mascarenhas (bass & guitars) began to have amazing stage presence at this point, dancing around the stage and gathering everyone’s attention with their movements. The third song they performed was the best of the set. Skilfully mixing blues-rock with moments of punk-rock, and containing just the right amount of angry screaming alongside calming chords, the third song in the set sounded similar to the best of 70s rock. It was an essential for any blues-rock fan to listen to and at points was reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s music. In order to keep the audience awake, they went into a slow hypnotic soft rock song that worked perfectly to get everyone moving. Carey’s stage presence and voice was of someone who should be performing at a music festival or stadium at this point. Po Lazarus then went into their second-best performance of the evening, which started off as a sad ballad and progressed into an upbeat rock song that felt as though it belonged in a Tarantino film. Carey’s voice rivalled that of Jack White’s at times. When the song was over, the band addressed the audience charmingly, with Mascarenhas even doing his best Matthew McConaughey. Although everyone watching never wanted the show to end, the band sadly had to finish up and they did so with two more unbelievable songs: a grunge track and the last, another great blues-rock track.
The only thing wrong with the Po Lazarus’ show was not due to the band itself, but the lack of attention given by the audience. At times, it made it impossible to hear what Carey was saying when he spoke between songs. Thankfully, those who were paying attention had the good sense to demand an encore, and though the band was hesitant, they performed a short encore that was just as amazing as the rest of their set. Seeing Po Lazarus live someday should be on everyone’s life goal lists, for the words of this article really can’t describe just how fascinating they really are live. As the band mentioned that night, they are currently looking for funding for their debut album. Those who can should donate because their music is worth it.
Written by Franca G. Mignacca
Photography by Varvara Kameneva V. Kameneva Photography