Royal Canoe puts on an otherworldly show at The Mansion

Royal Canoe marries electronic-dance music with indie rock for an unconditional sound.
Supplied by Jaclyn Campanaro

Royal Canoe has been pushing the boundaries of sound since 2010. With their array of synthesizers and guitar pedals married with electronically-warped vocals, the Winnipeg band’s live performance at The Mansion felt like being transported into the future.

With blue lights washing everything out, the climb to the second floor of The Mansion felt like ascending into another universe — no recreational drugs required. Opening the night was a band new to the Kingston scene – Belle Game.

The group kicked off the show with powerful vocals and unstoppable beats. The guitarist was jumping and dancing so much I was surprised the small stage they were performing on didn’t collapse.

Kingston is known for its acceptance of new talents and the crowd proved just as hospitable on Tuesday night, listening attentively to Belle Game and starting to get their dancing shoes ready for the main act — Royal Canoe.

Bringing together the electro-dance genre with the indie rock scene seems unusual, however Royal Canoe has found a promising balance. Playing a mix of songs from their Juno-nominated 2014 album, Today We’re Believers, and their most recent, Something Got Lost Between Here and the Orbit, they showed their ability to be true to their sound while continuously developing.

The intense percussion found in their latest release created through unique tactics on the recorded album — such as tying water bottles to microphones — was translated onto the live stage through two drummers, multiple synthesizers, and (what I would assume) was roughly 300 different electronic buttons and knobs. “So many knobs … it’s really boring,” keyboardist Matt Schellenberg said during a changeover, continuing the dry humour that the band exhibited throughout the night with a plethora of odd side comments.

Despite their experimental electronic sound, the band didn’t forget their soul comes from rock. Before the end of their set, they made sure to strip down some of the auto-tune effects and belt out the vocals with everything they had. Even once the wall of sound turned into a trickle, the large crowd remained in movement — dancing and swaying along to the unusual, but steady beat.

Although pioneers in experimental Canadian sound, the band’s live performance proves their music is still grounded in classical talents of strong vocals and a soulful electronic sound. Their percussion was almost eerily perfect — the two drummers, Derek Allard on the drum kit and Michael Jordan on the electric drums, were not even a millisecond off. For the entire night, the packed crowd remained entranced, only interrupted by the cheers when the music paused.

It was a night of futuristic charm created by a band ready to steal your hearts and send them to space.

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