Canada is the music world's secret weapon, and Junior Boys are one of the finest examples. In the midst of a world tour Junior Boys stopped into their favorite Tampa venue and did their usual work; a superb performance in Ybor City's Crowbar. This was my third time seeing Junior Boys perform and all have been at Crowbar.
Hurricane Matthew was on everyone's mind Thursday, and with good reason; from the potential damage it might bring to what area it was going to actually hit. I often wondered throughout the day if Junior Boys would cancel their much anticipated show, but the storm didn't seem to faze them one bit.
Steady rain fell on a humid night. The show started off with a talented Rogerthomas, a St. Pete artist who is a one man band. Canada native DJ and beat maker Borys followed with a heavy dose of electronic soundscapes and house music. Both acts got the crowd ready for a dance driven remainder of the evening.
Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus of Junior Boys stepped onto the stage in front of a smaller than expected crowd, but the weather obviously played a big part in that. Their set kicked off at 11:20 p.m. and they got it started with one of my favorite songs out at the moment in "Kiss Me All Night." Jeremy was placed to the left and Matt was directly across him to the right. Both were mostly stationary due to the multiple instruments surrounding them.
The duo bounced from album to album with ease and covered at least one song from each of their five records. The most impressive performance of the night came in the way of "Under The Sun," one of their oldest songs to date. With only a handful of lyrics softly sung by Jeremy, "Under The Sun" is carried by an impressive atmosphere. Lush synths managed by Matt, and a sparse, but calming guitar plucked by Jeremy just seem to melt right over you. This went on for over seven minutes, but the time easily felt like half of that.
Although the crowd was meager in attendance they certainly made up for it with dancing and pure enjoyment. Every face I saw was either singing along, moving their body or simply smiling. Jeremy interacted with the crowd a few times in between songs including one of my favorite statements I've heard from any musician with: "I don't know what you people are doing here in a fucking hurricane, I wouldn't even see the Beatles in this." It's that kind of humor and humility that I've come to expect from Junior Boys and it's quite charming.
Big Black Coat was their critically acclaimed LP that released earlier this year, and they represented it well with songs "Over It, "Love Is A Fire," and "Big Black Coat." One of the best experinces of witnessing a Junior Boys concert is how accurate their sound is. And by that I mean from listening to it at your house or in your car, then seeing them recreate that sound onstage, It's very satisfying. Jeremy's vocals are clear and evenly fit right into perfectly time keyboard strokes. I'm always disappointed when their show comes to an end.
Their set spanned over 70 mins and featured a total of twelve songs. After an hour of jamming and to a less than packed venue, they could've easily called it a night, but the pair graciously gave us one more song to close out a very strong gig. "Banana Ripple" sprawled on for almost ten minutes and was definitely a close second to "Under The Sun" for highlights of the night.
I'm still shocked that Junior Boys aren't more recognized than they are, but after this year that could change. It had been seven years since Tampa last saw the accomplished pair from Canada. Please don't make us wait another seven, fellas.