Peter Elkas steals headliner Jason Collett's limelight

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett

Jonas Hrebeniuk

ONE LOOK AT YOU AND I CAN'T DISGUISE, HE'S GOT HUNGRY EYES. Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett attempts to command the crowd after opening act Peter Elkas stole the show this past Saturday.

The expectations we have for something tend to determine our overall satisfaction with it. Luckily this past Saturday, a pair of Canadian rockers offered up a surprisingly impressive earful.

Indie connoisseurs and students escaping their books bobbed their heads and sang along with the red-lit faces of Jason Collett and his opening act, Peter Elkas.

Broken Social Scene’s Collett returned to Call the Office to honour a postponed show from earlier this year. The Toronto-based artist drew a large number of fans into the cozy venue to hear his sentimental lyrics and grassroots style.

The venue grew intimate as the impatient crowd gathered before the stage to hear opener Elkas, who began by tuning his Kiefer Sutherland model Gibson. Although he grew up in Montreal, Elkas’ live performance is a telltale sign he has adopted the classic Toronto folk sound. Riding the coattails of Canadian artists like Feist, k-os, Ron Sexsmith and Joel Plaskett, Elkas has been quietly sharing his sophomore album, Wall of Fire, in the process.

If you had happened to scan the concert bill before the show and given Elkas’ MySpace a listen, you may have been weary of the tiring soft rock sound from his studio recordings. Thankfully, his live sound is nothing short of serendipitous.

Jason Collett's Band

Elkas’s act was colourful, tight and worthy of praise " his unexpected classic style had the London crowd voicing its respect. Onlookers were turning their wide-eyes to others around them and giving a slow nod, as if to mark Elkas with their stamp of approval.

At midnight, a ragged-faced Jason Collett took to the mic: “Can I get all the TVs in the bar turned off?” Collett’s orders invited the bargoers to turn their heads and listen.

The five-piece band set the tone for the night with animated tambourine-tapping and delicate guitar riffs. The appeal of Collett’s voice instantly revealed itself. His lazy vocal intonations are reminiscent of Bob Dylan, and when mixed with his knack for inducing nostalgia, the effect makes up for his soft style and somewhat apathetic stage presence.

The talent and enthusiasm of Collett’s band was enough to warm the frontman’s coldness. Fans loudly acknowledged popular songs like “Out of Time” and “Fire”; however, it wasn’t until a trombone-filled rendition of “Parry Sound” that the fans truly experienced Collett’s flair.

The acoustic number told a sentimental love story set in the “north country” of Ontario. Sang with an earnest voice and sad eyes, Collett’s lyrics left you feeling homesick.

Expectations for Collett were high, and while his talent sparkled on stage, Elkas’s surprising performance shined the brightest that night by far, leaving audience members to expect more from him in the future.

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