Be on the Lookout for Plants and Animals

April 19th, 2012

Plants and Animals – Mercury Lounge – April 18, 2012

Plants and Animals is a fitting name for the band from Montreal whose show last night at Mercury Lounge seemed to encompass everything you could ever want to stuff in your mouth … or ears. Their set wove together all strands of rock music from fist-pumping guitar raves, singer-songwriter’s lyrical touches and a prog-ish orchestral song construction to an occasional ethnic tinge and plenty of that indie je ne sais quoi, all braided together in a high-energy, coherent sound that had the packed house moving for 90 minutes. There was plenty of new material to cover, with a great new album, The End of That, but the band seemed more interested in building a great show from their entire repertoire. So while they played terrific versions of newer material like the long, raging “Control Me” early on, Plants and Animals also went back to Parc Avenue with “Good Friend,” which pauses midway through so frontman Warren Spicer can explain that “it takes a good friend to tell you you’ve got your head up your ass.”

The show had a certain looseness to it, songs five, six, seven minutes or longer following a laissez-faire, jammy-without-jamming route from beginning to end. Quiet moments became loud, two-guitar assaults on the crowd. Spicer moved to different guitars and instruments and even alternate positions onstage to bring different sounds to the music. For a short stretch beginning with “Game Shows” (off La La Land), he moved to a keyboard that brought a more soulful, songwriter feel. But then he picked up an acoustic guitar and started an avalanche of songs or possibly just a gloriously long one that flipped and bounded between sections, with musicians shuffling from one end of the stage to the next in what Spicer described afterward as musical chairs without actually sitting down.

For the encore, Plants and Animals played a great, twangy version of the title track from their new album. It’s nice to have a song with a title like “The End of That” to play at the end of your shows, except it wasn’t the end at all, and the best was yet to come. Reaching yet again to Parc Avenue with the anthemic “Faerie Dance,” the band pulled out all the stops, complete with wonderful harmonies and a major rock-the-heck-out section of broken-glass guitar solos. It was a little bit animal, a little bit vegetable, a little bit mineral, but 100 percent Plants and Animals, a band to keep your eyes … and ears on. —A. Stein