Midway through the Besnard Lakes' thrilling set in the Entry last night, the band joked that "you're all just here because Yeasayer sold out" -- which might have been true for some people in the audience, but I knew plenty of others like me that left Yeasayer's mediocre set next door in the Mainroom early just so we wouldn't miss any of the Montreal quartet's riveting performance. The group, who were celebrating their first North American show since their stellar new record The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night was released, were in a jovial mood throughout their lengthy 90-minute set, bantering freely with the crowd when they weren't pummeling us with their massive sound.
The band played everything from their new record (save for "The Lonely Moan"), a highlight being the four-song run of "The Land Of Living Skies Pt. 1 & 2," "Chicago Train," Albatross," and "And This Is What We Call Progress," which was devastating in the live setting. The band clearly doesn't suppress the influence that '60s and '70s rock has had on their music (and Lasek's fashion sense, which is decidedly throwback), and when the smoke machines were going full-force I felt as if a tiny Stonehenge might slowly be lowered on stage. But they are able to add a modern mood and dimension to their sound that makes it seem current instead of just a pale imitation of a bygone form.
Plus, the band are just so likable that you can't help but pull for them while being swept away by their immense, epic sound. They closed out the main set on a complete high with two older songs, the blistering one-two punch of "Disaster" and "And You Lied To Me," my favorite song of the night. After a brief break, the band returned to lead the audience in another group toast (with us cheering them, and they, in turn, cheering us), before ending the show with the slow-building intensity of "Light Up The Night" and "Thomasina," from the band's debut Volume I. The Besnard Lakes are a group with grand, superlative songs and a winning personality to match, and that combination easily won over the Entry, making all who were there glad that we made the right choice that evening.