by Michael Thomas
“I know there’s this invisible border between Quebec and Ontario,” Jon Matte, the Franklin Electric’s lead singer said into the band’s set at Adelaide Hall last night. It was an issue on my mind considering the bill featured two acts who have a larger following in their home province than anywhere else.
If anything, the Franklin Electric and Laura Sauvage proved that maybe, just maybe, that invisible border isn’t as impenetrable as it might have once seemed. (It’s worth noting that the French-speaking bands being noticed beyond Quebec sing in English, but that’s an issue for another day).
It was Laura Sauvage’s first show in Toronto, and Vivianne Roy went solo with an understated but fun little set. Drawing from her recent EP Americana Submarine, a few new songs and even a Beck cover, the music of Laura Sauvage has a quiet confidence. Her soft vocals paired well with her sort of bluesy guitar playing, and her songs took on new dimensions when she explained the thought process behind them.
To name just a few, her songs touch on completely average first dates, having a good friend suddenly change on you and a woman who died of cancer and was then eaten by her cats. It’s a diverse range, to be sure, and Roy found humour even in the slightly trauma-inducing cat-lady story. She also showed she has some major bite with a new song late in the set: seeing her get raw on her guitar, it’s easy to see how she could make a punk record. She ended her set with a cover of Beck’s “Cyanide Breath Mint” and the stream of consciousness lyrics drew her eclectic set to a neat finish.
The rush of the crowd to the front of the stage, in anticipation of the Franklin Electric, was hard to miss. The excitement was palpable as the band entered the stage to extended synth notes and a smoke machine. As soon as they picked up their instruments, they never let their energy dissipate.
The band carries a lot of different genre influences: their vocal harmonies speak of pure folk, they sometimes have a rootsy twang, but mostly they thrive playing emotional folk pop songs or indie-rock anthems. Matte was indicative of the band’s energy as he bounced between keys, guitar and trumpet, the latter of which was always good for a cheer from the audience.
The set was about half new material and half from their debut record, and even if the band’s fans couldn’t mouth along with the words, they were just as exciting as the songs everyone knew by heart. The stronger songs of the set overall were when the band truly let loose and got lost in their music; it was clear Matte was not expecting the amount of love the band got last night, and he was grinning from start to finish.
The band’s seemingly endless band of tricks were on full display when they returned for a three-song encore after an hour-long regular set. The four of them first played a soft folky number all around just a single microphone, successfully getting the room to shut the hell up so they could hear it better. Then they pulled out a pretty emotional cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” before ending with a song of their own, the very catchy “Insatiable.”
High-energy folk-pop, it seems, is not exclusive to provinces that aren’t Quebec. Perhaps these two bands, along with acts like Milk & Bone and Lisa LeBlanc, might finally be able to crush that invisible border into dust.