QEA makes a Serene Republic

The Most Serene Republic’s Adrian Jewett gets brassy during their set last Monday night.
The Most Serene Republic’s Adrian Jewett gets brassy during their set last Monday night.
Photo by Sarang Solhdoost
Adrian Jewett of The Most Serene Republic rocks the mic at Alfie’s.
Adrian Jewett of The Most Serene Republic rocks the mic at Alfie’s.
Sarang Solhdoost

Concert Review: The Most Serene Republic @ Alfie’s, March 27

This past Monday, Milton’s The Most Serene Republic and Fat Robot, winner of QEA’s battle of the bands, stormed the Alfie’s stage and made the last QEA show of the year a memorable one.

Fresh off their recent victory, Fat Robot arrived full of confidence. They began without ceremony and caught the attention of the small audience immediately. Their fresh, almost beachy, rock was garnished with just a twist of folk sensibility and got the evening off to a good start.

Taking the opportunity to try out some new material, Fat Robot played a short but tight set, and had a solid stage presence.

Bassist Bryce Daigle was pleased with their performance.

“[It’s] fun to play for people who aren’t our immediate friends ... It’s not too often we get to play with real bands.”

Even though the crowd enjoyed Fat Robot, the party didn’t really start until The Most Serene Republic took the stage. And with a seven-member group, that isn’t an easy feat. But the band didn’t let a lack of space restrain their performance. Once they started playing, the music literally didn’t stop until the end of their set, with guitar tuning and keyboard harmonies providing a continuous flow of music from song to song.

While it was clear when one song ended and another began, The Most Serene Republic’s set focused as much on the show as a whole as on the individual songs—a technique that allowed the band to create a cohesive experience out of what might have been chaos in the hands of a less adept group of musicians.

Group dynamics are important in any band, but when there are seven members, they become essential—as does multi-tasking. Frontman Adrian Jewett is not only the lead vocalist, he also plays the trombone, duets on the piano and is not adverse to a little drumming on the side. Emma Ditchburn also lends her voice to many of their songs and plays guitar as well. And on top of their substantial efforts, the other five members, Ryan Lenssen, Adrian Jewett Nick Greaves, Andrew McArthur and Adam Nimmo, all take a turn at the mic in addition to playing their respective instruments.

While Jewett’s voice is unlikely to inspire a solo career, he never once asserts himself as a holier-than-thou lead vocalist. Rather, his voice acts as a catalyst for the music that the band creates, bringing everything together and binding it into a wonderfully surreal musical experience. Rarely do the vocals of either Jewett or Ditchburn take precedence over the music generated by the band and when he isn’t singing or playing an instrument of some sort, Jewett keeps the energy level high with 80s-inspired dance moves.

Although the lack of vocal supremacy and guitar solos may throw you for a loop at first, it works remarkably well in The Most Serene Republic’s capable hands. The only moments of real lyrical intensity came during songs which featured a repetitive chorus that the audience sang along with.

The band’s use of repetition within the lyrics of their songs compounded the very dreamlike quality of their music, which was almost lullaby-soft, before being raised to a manic peak of musical energy.

Despite their use of repetition and continuous musical flow, the show never felt stagnant or overdone. When musicians are enjoying their performance, that excitement and energy billows off the stage and an audience can’t help but be entranced. So even though you might not quite understand exactly what you’re experiencing, you can’t help but enjoy it, and not in the train-wreck sense.The cliche of a musical journey is generally something to avoid, but when The Most Serene Republic is involved, that is exactly the nature of their performance.

And just when you think you know where you’re headed, they spice things up and twist everything around and you find yourself somewhere else entirely. Case in point: at the opening of their last song, Jewett began an interlude of beach-inspired beatboxing.

Despite Alfie’s cavernous nature, The Most Serene Republic managed to make their show feel intimate and personal, as though everyone there was witnessing a completely unique stream of musical consciousness.

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