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Wednesday, November 25

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Concert Thu Dec 08 2011

Review: Karkwa @ Schubas, December 6, 2011

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Those in attendance on Tuesday night at Karkwa's show gazed in awe as the five piece Canadian band, who has a vast and sprawling sound, gave a performance that was nothing short of astounding. The Montréal group is used to playing much larger venues in their own country and France especially but played as if they, in fact, were in one of these places. Their sound filled every nook and cranny of Schubas Tavern for their hour-long set, even treating fans to a surprise encore when we all cried out for more.

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It's really no surprise that the band's show would be impressive. Even though it's their first time in Chicago, they have been building up a fan base both in terms of numbers of actual fans and in terms of critics appraising them. They are Polaris prize winners as well, which has granted them credible acclaim. And, though they sing in French, they advised the audience "If you don't understand the words, just dance." (There were a few audience members who did speak French, however, as there had been just the previous night at Portage Theater for Jane Birkin.)

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One thing that is definite about Karkwa's songs is the depth of the compositions themselves. Most of their best songs take off with at least one unexpected bridge which seems almost jarring the first time but quickly becomes something cravable and fresh that is longed for by the listener. In this way, every aspect of the song becomes an anticipated joy because of what the tracks are capable of achieving. Live, these pieces really worked well, especially with such a great sense of drumming to support the backbone of the rhythms and emphasize a fortitude that they even sometimes don't possess on record (though, their releases are all very solid.) Perhaps the songs may be a little melodramatic for some but for many others that only heightens their appeal.

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Setlist wise, they focused on some of their best tracks from their four full length releases, with perhaps more of a concentration on their most recent release from 2010. The title track from this release, "Les Chemins de Verre," as well as "Le Pyromane," "Le Bon sens," and L'Acouphène" were all excellent and as energetic as one would expect from such an accomplished band. Another more complicated song they pulled off amazingly well was ""Le Compteur" from 2008's Le Volume du Vent.. When they came out for their encore, they were happy to play a request as well, "Dormir le jour" with a modesty expressed by lead singer Louis-Jean Cormier exclaiming "Oh! You really know our songs!" happily. It was an absolute gift to see this band play in such an intimate venue and an experience that will be cherished by their Chicago fans for a very long time indeed.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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