The Cat Empire + Current Swell @ Metropolis

Presented by Evenko and Greenland Productions

Carmen from Plebeian Pleasures (Mondays 11 AM) reviews the frenzied night.

The Cat Empire killed two birds with one stone on April 11th, as they offered a second sold-out and stunning performance at Metropolis. Actually, forget "performance". It was a party.

A great deal of that fun was due to Current Swell, the perfect opener for an enthusiastic and packed audience. Coming all the way from Canada's West Coast, the band's indefinable sound contains nuances of folk, blues, reggae, psychedelic, pop, ska, heavy-country, and funk.

For 45 minutes, they jumped and laughed. Scott Stanton and Dave Lang had serious harmonica and guitar skills, but Ghosty Boy was the one leading the crowd with his crazy bass beats. Amongst the rock ambiance, they also included beautiful harmonies.

Towards the end of their set they said, "If you stamp your feet, Cat Empire will hear you. If you stamp them hard enough, you'll all end up under the stage". In a heartbeat, Metropolis was shaking and that's about the time everyone realized they were in for a treat.

People started interacting with each other and reminiscing about their previous Cat Empire experiences in between sets. It felt like a close get-together, and once "Brighter than Gold" started suddenly, everyone went insane. Arms and feet were everywhere, and it was awesome. There was an instant clash between the calm balconies and the hysterical front stage.

The Cat Empire's unique sound stands out from typical jazz and ska due to their unusual electric sound. Their set was diverse, offering their greatest hits and a soft focus on their last album, Steal the Light. More importantly, the fun was contagious. In "How to Explain", they proved their lyrics right, music is the language of the soul. Without holding back, people danced, cheered, and crowd surfed in a compact frenzied pit. It felt like a 35-degree Dominican Republic. The pit got real during "In My Pocket", and trumpeter Harry James Angus improvised "nananananas" on an increasingly fast drum, challenging the crowd to push themselves even more.

As if the night couldn't get more eccentric, keyboardist Ollie McGill played the "Super Mario" theme song, followed by a solo to introduce "The Wine Song". On this anthem, vocalist Felix Riebl invited the audience to put their arms around each other and unite in a gigantic circle pit. After seeing the crowd hug, he praised Montreal and said, "I love the way people interact with each other here". Their generous encore started with "Steal the Light" and finished with an endless version of "The Chariot". As the humble geniuses that they are, the octet did not want to leave the stage, and that ended the night perfectly. 

Many fans mentioned that they could not get enough and attended both parties. If you missed out, wear two shoes for dancing and pay a tribute to Bobby Marley's legacy in the comfort of your home with this video, or follow their American tour and catch the next Amigo Express!

Although the non-existence of cats almost ruined the night, the show gets a solid 12/10.