Once, I saw Two Hours Traffic with five pieces of plaid clothing between the four members. (One of them had on a plaid jacket over a plaid shirt.) We called it 125 per cent plaid, though it’s questionable why it isn’t still just 100 per cent plaid.
When they were playing Friday night at the It’s Gonna Get Loud Tent, they were a ways off from that. Singer Liam Corcoran was even wearing a suit jacket. Suit jacket Two Hours Traffic? What’s this?
I could try to pull something about their evolving sound out of this and yes, they have changed and polished their music a little over the years. Their live show is better for it. While I haven’t spent as much time with their latest, Foolish Blood, as I have their previous records, the songs translate better live from what I’ve seen.
Make no mistake, the first few THT records are great. Somehow, the Carillon got like four copies of their breakthrough, 2008’s Little Jabs, and each wound up in the hands of someone who loved it, me included.
Strangely, those songs aren’t buoyed by THT’s energetic performance. After a Foolish Blood track, they jumped into “Whenever We Finish” and “Weightless One”, a pair of earlier gems for the P.E.I. power-pop group that fell surprisingly flat live. Whereas the new material seems built for the stage.
They were followed in the tent by their tour mates, Regina’s own Rah Rah. The group — performing as a five piece tonight — are still touring behind The Poet’s Dead, their most focused, most well written and simply best album to date. That’s translated to their live show. They fucking rock.
If you wanted to find a criticism, it would have to be that their sets feel really rehearsed now. With all the switching they have to do — which might be cut down from their days touring Breaking Hearts, actually — and how seamless they make it, they’ve honed a set that you can’t see them deviating from. You don’t get the impression that they could play anything from their albums at anytime. This is mostly a fleeting quibble.
Near the end of the show, band member Kristina Hedlund releases three inflatable letters — R-A-H — into the crowd. I’m standing beside Gregory “G-Beat” Beatty this whole time and when the letters reach him, he does nothing. He just stands there with his hands in his pockets, letting the letters bump up against him. I get the impression that if he were locked in a room and forced to battle these balloons, the balloons would win. Eventually, they do; he takes off before the set is over.