Live Review: Savoir Adore with Santah and Royal Canoe at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 20th October 2012

By on Wednesday, 24th October 2012 at 2:00 pm

After getting stuck in traffic for 2 hours thanks to a university’s homecoming activities, I had a Magners pear (unheard of in DC!) and a pretty good fish and chips at H Street pub the Queen Vic. Properly nourished, I was in a much better headspace to enjoy Savoir Adore on their current North American tour, performing at hole in the wall Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel up the street.

There were two openers. The first was Santah, a five-piece originally from Champaign, Illinois (as explained to me by their bassist Otto Stuparitz), but who have since moved to the Big City, aka Chicago. Santah’s vocals are provided by brother and sister Stan and Vivian McConnell. Think of the lovely harmonies of Grouplove, except without all the craziness, with a good helping of the surf pop chillness of Princeton, but without the airheadedness of Best Coast.

Santah have just released an EP, ‘You’re Still a Lover’, and track ‘I Love the Way You Seal the Deal’, with its “eee-ohhhhh-ohs!” off the EP was one of the standouts of their set. If you like your indie rock unpretentious, with wide-eyed wonderment and made by a pair of siblings who clearly get along with each other (I can’t even imagine being in a band with my brother!), then check these guys out.

The second opener was Winnipeg, Canada sextet Royal Canoe, who had been touring with Savoir Adore from when this Savoir Adore tour began in the Great White North. The RNR stage is already small to begin with, but really, you should have seen all the gear Royal Canoe had with them. Now, when half your band have synths as part of their instrument set-up and you have three drummers – a traditional one, a second who plays electronic drum pads and a third who plays guitar occasionally but obviously preferred hitting a drum with the head of a mike – to me, you’ve really got to show up and prove to me all that gear makes sense to your band.

There’s a ‘canned’ feeling you can’t escape, whether it be some tropical instruments that you hear but you clearly don’t see the said instruments on stage. While they played with a lot of energy and at times had a slow jam Hall and Oates meets r&b vibe that could be very popular on Radio1, and I can see Is Tropical and even Friendly Fires enjoying this band’s more tropicalia moments, I think there’s something to be said to be able to do much with a lot less.

Having impressed me with their EP ‘Dreamers’ this past spring, Savoir Adore didn’t disappoint me with their new album ‘Our Nature’ either. I had worked myself up so much that even with several people cancelling on me, I was determined to have a good time. (Even if I went white-knuckled with nerves as I proceeded to get stuck on Georgia Avenue on the way down…) I’m really glad I went, even if I had to go alone. What I already knew: there would be lovely dream pop moments like ‘Loveliest Creature’, which I was captivated by in Brighton at this year’s Great Escape but this time had group-coordinated hand gestures, and ‘Our Nature’ closing track ‘Sea of Gold’. The coloured spotlights they chose to illuminate the centre of stage – their equipment racks hidden under a white sheet to allow for maximum coloured light reflection – just added to the overall drama.

What I didn’t know: this is a band that can really groove. I wasn’t expecting the loudness of a disco, but I guess I should have expected this from new(er) song ‘Regalia’, the first single from ‘Our Nature’ with a killer bass line. Also unexpected: a cover of Thompson Twins’ ‘Hold Me Now’, which you can get a feeling of from the video below (sorry for the quality; I blame the sound system at the venue, but at least you can see what I’m talking about with the coloured lights). My favourite moment of the night? I wasn’t sure if they’d return for an encore, but I realised after they left the stage the first time, they hadn’t played current single ‘Empire of Light’ yet! They returned and played this and oh god, be still my heart. I guess I must have been verklempt, because I know they played a song after it to end the night, and it looks like ‘Morning Fruits’ to me in my scrawl from in the dark. It’s a good night gigging if you can’t think straight and your mind isn’t working well enough to write properly, eh?


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2 Responses

3:34 am
25th October 2012

RT @tgtf: New post: Live Review: Savoir Adore with Santah and Royal Canoe at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, DC – 20th Oct 2012:

[…] show ever just 3 nights before at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, returned to DC for the first time since October, when they played the much more difficult to get to Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel. With them were […]

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