From the moment they took over the band shell at Forsyth Park, Royal Canoe didn’t waste any time getting people to move. Even if electronic music isn’t your cup of joe, there’s still plenty to appreciate and enjoy from the “mad scientists” from Winnepeg.
Almost every band member on stage was playing a keyboard, The lead singer, Matt Peters, plays keyboard. The guitarist, Bucky Driedger, plays a keyboard. The bass player, Brendan Berg, plays keyboard. Only drummer, Derek Allard, did not. Instead they incorporated a second drummer, Michael Jordan, who played an electronic drum kit. Not to devolve into excess, keyboardist Matt Schellenberg switched among three different keyboards. Royal Canoe calls their signature the six-keyboard super weapon.
In another nod to weird alchemy, Peters used two microphones—one for amplification, the other to bend the pitch of his voice down to a tone that sounded like James Earl Jones on an Isaac Hayes album.
Royal Canoe’s show was just a flat-out fun and kept the crowd warm, even as they waited for Of Montreal in the cold meadow. Local hip hop artist Kid Syc helped bridge the time gap, even doing a little freestyle to help build the excitement. Of Montreal took the stage then brought down the house with searing riffs and whimsical theatrics.
Lead singer Kevin Barnes danced across the stage, working the crowd, while costumed dancers performed in front of and behind the band, acting out everything from a bird killing a mouse to wrestling luchadores. The pièce de résistance: Barnes riding an amorphous rainbow-colored dragon while hitting every note. The psychedelic animation projected on the band shell’s backdrop added to the trippy-dippy vibe.
These days, few touring bands possess the showmanship of Of Montreal. Maroon 5 may have moves like Jagger, but Kevin Barnes has actually got mad skills. Barnes strutted his stuff back and forth across the stage while belting out notes, all while B.P. Helium pounds his candy-striped guitar into oblivion, wearing a pink dress and black, white and pink tube socks. The remaining band members provide the backbone to the sound, never faltering.
Everyone in Savannah loves to brag about who they got to see play in the park. This show was one they’ll be talking about for a long time.