Dan Snaith, the performer formerly known as Manitoba and now recording and performing under the name Caribou, blends falsetto pop with heavy rhythms. At a previous Ottawa show at the 2004 Bluesfest he wowed the crowd: Two drummers thundered out the beats while loopy animation played behind them and a guitarist – all wearing animal masks.

Their Babylon show was well-attended, if not quite a full house.
The first act – and my personal favourite of the night – was the Russian Futurists, who played Beach Boys influenced electro-pop. It was something fans of the High Llamas and Future Bible Heroes would enjoy.

Next up were the Junior Boys, whose debut CD has garnered considerable raves in the international music press. A duo, they - singer-guitarist Jeremy Greenspan and sleepy-looking bassist/keyboardist Matt Didemus - sounded like they were influenced by 1980's synth pop groups like the Pet Shop Boys. They turned their drum loops up very high and had several members of the audience dancing along to their forlorn pop.

Then up came Caribou. I’d like to say their show at Babylon was similarly wow-inducing, but up close much of the thrill faded. The interplay of the drummers was much less interesting; individually their parts were similar, and fairly simple, obviously co-ordinated with an in-ear broadcast system. The vocals were almost entirely piped in from a recording. The animation was fine in itself, but after about half an hour, even Dan Snaith’s tootling on a plastic horn couldn’t erase the impression that the most interesting part of Caribou’s live act was out of a can.

I was in the minority (possibly of one): The audience was obviously thrilled throughout the show.

“You’re being far too kind to us …” Snaith demurred.

Hey, he said it, not me....

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Commenting On: Babylon, Ottawa, 27/4/2005 - Caribou, Junior Boys and the Russian Fut

ie London, England

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