by Michael Thomas
The weather is finally starting to heat up and it’s only natural that the current king of summery pop-rock was in Toronto last night to celebrate the release of his wonderful new album, Field of Trampolines. The opening acts were a worthy warm-up too.
It’s hard to describe what makes LUKA—the project of Luke Kuplowsoy—so magnetic. His act is deliberately void of flashiness. Some of his songs are just him sporadically strumming a guitar, with no other accompaniment but his voice. It’s maybe his unpredictability. He hovers in the folk vein but he doesn’t necessarily need to be a quiet presence–he dropped to his knees at least three times to strum his guitar and one song was full of furious guitar. But he’s also deeply, deeply sincere. “O My Heart is Full” and “Why Don’t You Go To Her” are both nakedly emotional ballads. He also donned a baseball cap specifically for a song that mentions putting on a baseball cap. In other words, he’s utterly charming.
Coming from Welland, Ontario, Canyon Carvers brought some power-pop to the table and was a pretty good warmup for the night’s headliner. At times they were reminiscent of Weezer, other times electing to get a little more passionate than Rivers Cuomo et al. They proved to be inventive even in the face of adversity; a kick drum broke, and while it was being replaced, one of the band members kept the audience engaged with observations about Carrie Underwood, among other topics. The players also switched instruments a lot, which is always a sign that you’re in for a fun band.
Of course, Shotgun Jimmie was dynamite, as his last three albums prove. His bright, summery brand of power-pop is infectious, and it was no wonder that the packed crowd was loudly singing along to songs from his back catalogue. But his output has been so solid that his newer songs are just as joyous as all that came before.
The setup was simpler this time around, with Jimmie simultaneously covering drums and guitar and Aaron Goldstein on guitar. Jimmie seemed to be as pleased as the audience by the show, saying “sweet” multiple times. And when he wasn’t playing bona fide jams like “Skype Date” or “Join the Band,” he pulled out a few covers, including Stephen Lambke’s “Memory Forever” (which brought out Tamara Lindeman on vocals, of course).
As long as he keeps on going, the legend of Jimmie will never fade.