Sunday, February 28, 2010

Peasant at Rancho Relaxo was rather pleasant

"I could take this photo a million times and I would still look the same." - Damien DeRose, aka Peasant

I didn't know a lot about Damien DeRose, better known as Peasant, before going to see him at Rancho Relaxo in Toronto last Thursday night. Joanne, who also writes for the blog, has been a fan for quite the while so I've heard that he's a singer-songwriter with a simple vocal-piano-guitar sort of set-up, and that his music is very pleasant and honest. I was baffled to arrive at the venue to see the poster for the night's lineup. To me, it seemed kind of off putting to put the soulful solo artist with his acoustic guitar and apologetic but endearing smile onstage following local acts "The Panty Peelers" and "The Dildonics". Seriously, guys?

So following a surfer-rock set by The Dildonics that sounded more like a soundtrack to a teen beach movie than a live band, Peasant took to the Rancho stage. He apologized for not rocking as hard as the bands before him, and he apologized for being American since we had just found out that the Canadian women's hockey team had beat USA for gold, 2-0. He let us have our hoots and hollers, and he proceeded to serenade us with some standout tracks off of his upcoming album, Shady Retreat, as well as some older ones from On the Ground.

I've finally had the chance to listen to the album now, and I can say that much like Shady Retreat, Peasant's live set was short and sweet. The album is about thirty minutes long, and I can't imagine that his set at Rancho was much longer. But no matter how short or long that amount of time was, it was then that I was introduced to his music. And I do love it! While the album is fairly bare essentials in itself, his live performance is even further stripped down. It was a man and his guitar. Minus the production work, his songs can sound even more familiar and closer to home in that rare, comforting way. Between endearingly enthusiastic and sometimes apologetic banter about being American and his loving relationship with Canada, he delivered a collection of casually contemplative folk-pop songs. Peasant has a way of putting his inner monologue into pretty melodies and songs that simplify the same thoughts and feelings that you and I tend to over-complicate from day to day into something clear and understandable. It's this kind of clarity that came out best in his performance of We're Good, and the first single off of Shady Retreat, The End. It's really a shame that the clarity became muddled in the drunken, boisterous conversation of Panty Peeler and Dildonics fans that stayed behind.

My thoughts now said, are you ready for some Impressionable Youth blog bad quality bootlegs? Well, alright!

Peasant - We're Good (live at Rancho Relaxo) (mp3) (amazon) (iTunes)

Peasant - The End (live at Rancho Relaxo) (mp3) (amazon)

Peasant - The End (mp3) (amazon)

Despite the inappropriate crowd and opening bands, the singer-songwriter had nothing bad to say when we met him at the merch table after the set. In fact, he appreciated an eclectic mix of music. What a trooper. Following a truly pleasant conversation and photo-op with him (above), I feel like the music industry needs more guys like this.

So it really wasn't his crowd last Thursday, but he had another show in Toronto the following night at the Opera House. Opening for Fucked Up... I agree with Peasant when he says that variety in music is great and all but personally, I think someone needs to talk to his booking manager.

Shady Retreat is released March 2nd. Go ahead and pre-order it at Paper Garden Records, and check out more from Peasant at his mySpace.

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