Say what you will about Ramona Falls and The Darcys (I will down below, most of it positive) but neither band wastes time.
Ramona Falls took their energy level from their possibly manic drummer, Sideshow Bob impersonator Paul Alcott, and uncorked a powerful straight-ahead style almost immediately. Singer/spoke around which the band seems to revolve Brent Knopf (hey, we interviewed him!) lets his keys fill the center of each song, providing both melody and the prime rhythm: Alcott on several occasions would stop drumming to utilize their laptop, presumably for the Deeler looping software Knopf himself wrote, or to play a second synthesizer. Every time the drums broke from play Knopf’s fingers took control of the band’s pace. Knopf would roll his eyes into the back of his head periodically when singing, an oracle in a trance brought on by synth riffs and the band-created projections onto the screen behind that cast his face in ever-
shifting, multi-colored war paint.
While Knopf leads the band creatively, Alcott could easily have been mistaken for the frontman, vamping between songs and exploding to his feet behind the drum set early and often throughout the set. His energy and humor offset Knopf’s statuary posture and the quiet artiste image he projects, if not inhabits. “Admittedly that last one was a touch evil,” Alcott acknowledged after “Brevony”. He promised the band would not do that again, except maybe one more time.
Ramona Falls’ songs took on a vibrance live that I sometimes found missing in their recordings. Knopf’s vocals in particular came through more clearly, and their sound overall contained a great deal of power. The closer, a rock epic named “Spore”, was particularly compelling. Alcott’s occasional levity helped the medicine of some of the moodier songs go down a bit more smoothly. Otherwise they might have weighed a well-received set down.
The crowd demanded what I was later told was the first encore of the entire six-month tour. Alcott appeared on stage to apologize. “We don’t actually know any more songs,” he said, but they successfully managed to talk Knopf into an acoustic solo.
Torontonians The Darcys had a similarly ambitious sound, but one that also sounded a bit disappointingly close to someone doing an early ‘00s Radiohead mixed with a dash of Broken Social Scene (not coincidentally they belong to
BSS’ ‘Arts & Crafts’ label). That being said, they obviously had skill and the audience reaction was generally positive. As one gentleman shouted between songs put it,
“f[lip]in’ sick.” But despite some solid musical execution, one could not listen to the feedback used to connect songs without thinking some well-worn musical territory was being tread.
Ramona Falls Set List:
- The Darcys