It ain’t every show that you are greeted by seven hot roller derby babes, but then again, as Broken Down Suitcase has shown before, this ain’t ‘every show’. Last Saturday in Invermere, British Columbia, I attended a fundraiser for The Killer Rollbots, Invermere’s female Roller Derby team. Sponsored in part by tattoo legends Fire Vixen Tattoo, spirits were high as droves of fans and patrons came out to support a good cause and hear some great music.
After a brief hiatus, dealing with side-projects, tours and mild deportation, Eric Larocque and Ben Caldwell, also know as Broken Down Suitcase return to the tour circuit, briefly venturing around West Coast Canada, leading up to a full blown European tour.
Trying to get the attention of a rowdy bar is a difficult for task for any band, let alone a two peace Americana folk act from Golden, BC, but any band trying to do just that should take note of BDS’ opening song, Harlem River Blues. A foot stompin’, harmony shattering, traditional song that set the tone perfectly for the evening. Suffice to say, the boys got our attention.
The first set was quite somber, showcasing the multi-instrumental (banjo, mandolin, kazoo) showmanship the boys are known for. Standout’s 1927 and Ci Ci Rider engaged the crowd and left us wanting more. One complaint would be the time the boy’s took in-between songs, a set-list would have helped here. But it’s the spontaneity and laid-back atmosphere that keep BDS fans engaged (not to mention a few broken guitar strings that come from playing your heart out).
Where the first set turned our heads, the next two sets had us stomping our feet and singing along to songs many people haven’t even heard before. Down Home Girl, had Eric singing with a gruffness in his voice that is quite uncommon to the boys usually silky smooth harmonies. It was unique to the band’s sound and helped to elevate the song above previous performances. Perhaps one of the most surprising elements of the show was the incorporation of the always-controversial electric guitar. Played by Eric during the duo’s cover of Ray LaMontagne and The Pariah Dog’ New York is Killing Me, the haunting reverb perfectly complimented Ben’s tear inducing vocals. I don’t think I was the only one in the crowd who was taken back and ultimately won over by this exciting and new aspect.
All in all, Broken Down Suitcase did what they usually do; make you fall in love with music you had no idea you liked. While the world still waits for their debut LP (it will be ready when it’s ready), the live shows continue to win over new fans, and wow old one’s alike. Keep it up guys and have fun in Europe!