Concert Review: Sister, Empire Lights, August 26, The Imperial Pub

Toronto – “The Imperial Pub?  That’s a venue?”  So said Wade in our most recent podcast, a sentiment echoed by the rest of us.  Yes, they’re putting concerts on in the back room at The Imperial these days on what seems to be a semi-regular basis and this weeks show was notable for the inclusion of Sister.  Sister is the current project of Carla and Lynette Gillis, formerly of ’90s Halifax band Plumtree, and Ryan Myshrall, formerly of Montreal’s Local Rabbits.  The Gillis sisters’ former band has, of course, been getting a lot of attention recently because of the inclusion of their song “Scott Pilgrim” in, well, the Scott Pilgrim movie.  The band wisely had Plumtree shirts and their newly pressed “Best of” compilation for sale at the show along with their new self-titled EP.  But enough about their old band, what about Sister?

Well, not surprisingly, it sounds like an extension of what they were doing in the Plumtree days, but comes at it from a completely different angle.  Actually, other than featuring the same voices, it doesn’t really sound that much like Plumtree at all.  Featuring lots of keyboards and layered harmonies, they put on a solid show to an appreciative crowd that they described as being “a very nice audience” or words to that effect, basically implying that we were maybe a bit too well behaved, but it was like, 10:15 on a Thursday night.  How much excitement can you expect from people?  There was some slight excitement when someone’s phone went off between songs (hey, it’s a small room) and we could all pretty much hear her giving directions to a friend of hers.  “We’re listening to this person’s conversation,” commented Carla Gillis before moving over to the piano that resides in the back of The Imperial Pub.  She also commented on the piano, clearly excited to be playing a real piano, and a totally white one no less, rather than the synthesizers she normally plays.  Speaking of keyboards, the trio expanded to a four piece during the song “Orion,” as they were joined by some guy whose name I didn’t catch because I was getting another beer at the time.  It was a good tune though.

Empire Lights followed and they were equally enjoyable.  While Sister can lay legitimate claim to a ’90s Halifax scene pedigree, Empire Lights certainly takes some inspiration from the bands of that era, citing bands such as the The Superfriendz and The Inbreds.  In fact, they even played an Inbreds cover, more or less taking a request from the show’s promoters.  While I do hear some similarities between Empire Lights and those bands (as well as maybe some of the softer Sloan songs) , they didn’t so much sound exactly like those bands as they evoked the songs of that era.  Probably the best of their songs was “Shit Job,” a song that really needs no further explanation and one whose sentiment most can probably relate to.  That said, neither band did a “shit job” on this night.  I look forward to hearing more from both Sister and Empire Lights in the future.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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