There’s a certain humour in a band from Saskatchewan playing a Toronto show at The Boat.
But light-hearted and full of energy, newcomers Rah Rah stepped right into it Monday night, captivating a small but dedicated crowd inside the Kensington Market venue.
“We have a couple of nautical-themed songs,” singer Marshall Burns (pictured, below) joked on stage. “It makes sense that we’re playing here.”
Monday night’s set, as well as a Tuesday slot at the El Mocambo, mark the six-piece’s first collective foray into this neck of the Canadian woods, armed with a selection of well-crafted pop songs and a small but growing buzz around a debut disc.
Full, sometimes driving, sometimes sweet, always melodic in a rather Canadian way that’s not altogether different, though hardly identical to fellow Regina outfit Library Voices.
Both groups feature a commitment to pop hooks and both offer large lineups with a variety of instrumentation (Rah Rah’s set includes violin, accordion and ukulele).
Perhaps the most notable difference between the two?
Rah Rah already has a full-length available and before the conclusion of its first Canadian tour will begin recording a second.
“Well, Going Steady was really kind of pieced together from demos and different sessions,” the lanky Burns relates after the Monday set, humbly adding that the group will spend some time in Montreal this spring working on an immediate follow up.
“We’ve got the songs and a lot of us are still students so if we don’t get it done this summer it might not get done!”
Either way, Going Steady is hardly a record to gloss over. It may not have been laid down at Abbey Road, but the songwriting is right there.
It’s also a sound that’s growing, with, as bassist Joel Passmore points out, the addition of fellow Despistado alum Leif Thorseth.
“Now that we’ve got Leif,” he says, “we can really do a lot more.”
Whether Rah Rah can transcend the small town Canadiana that eminates from certain portions of its sound will be the most significant decider in terms of how loud the cheering will ever get, or rather, whether the group will ultimately sink or swim.