Down To Earth: Cardboard Crowns @ Zaphod’s July 26

This past week has been pretty hectic, moving into a new place and helping friends move apparently takes a while. I wanted to write about a show I went to last week, one that was probably one of the funnest I’ve been to all summer.

The bill was a wild one, with The Dead Zone starting things off with hardcore punk and then the Musettes calming things down with their beautiful harmonies and melodic music. I had been meaning to see them play for a while now, hearing great things about their live performances. Not only were they happy to be on the bill with a few punk bands, they got the crowd at Zaphod’s on their side immediately. I was curious how the contrast in genres would play itself out, but I was completely blown away with how talented these girls were. Check out their CBC Music page here.

As far as ska/punk goes, it’s a really tough genre of music to break into. It’s one of those things that has been done so many times that it’s hard to imagine anything original being brought to the table. Not to say that these bands don’t have something to offer, reggae and punk-influenced music by nature is limited in terms of style. Ottawa’s own Cardboard Crowns are an example of a band that refuse to be part of the herd. They get that it’s not always about the music, but about the identity of the band as a whole. What separates them from the pack is their character on stage, and the fact that their primary goal isn’t to get money or fame. It’s to get people together and have the best time possible, not taking themselves too seriously. Between the goofy clothes and funny on-stage banter, it was pretty evident that Joel, Matt, Frank and Tokyo were having as much fun as everyone watching the show.

The obvious highlight of the show was the encore. The lead singer Joel told everyone to come on stage, and almost the entire crowd got up and danced the rest of the night away. The last time I saw something like this happen was when Iggy & The Stooges did the same at Lollapalooza in 2007. Getting the crowd involved in the fun made the night that much better, as the energy from their set reached a peak. Their set included my personal favourite, “Down To Earth” as well as great new tracks  “Global Citizen” and “Long-Armed Bandits”. As far as shows at Zaphod’s goes, this one was the most fun I have been to. Keep an eye out for these guys playing in Ottawa again, the Crowns do not disappoint.