PONY UP! CD Launch @ Le Local

By Katie The K. - Katie the K - 02/05/2005

The Indie Show sometimes feels like a trip outside the classroom into the library. While it may be enjoyable because it is an opportunity to zone out, the library, like the Indie Show, isn't exactly recess and therefore falls short of providing a truly rewarding time. Despite efforts to be zany and irreverent, (with lifesize Lindsay Lohan cutouts in the audience), most indie performances make me feel more like I am participating in the token youth subculture event than actually having fun.

As CJLO's RPM director, I like to dance, which is not something that you usually get at the Indie Show. More form than content, indie shows require a level of patience: waiting to be entertained, but not expecting much, for things rarely take off at these concerts. Pony Up!'s CD launch on Saturday night at Le Local was an exception. The venue was packed with everyone from my hairdresser Yannick to Ben Lee. None of the acts (Beaver, the Smittens or Donkey Heart) were taking themselves too seriously and that led to a lovely atmosphere. People wanted to laugh and that they did. Sure, there were no cramps from jumping up and down, no sore calves the next day, but that is not what Pony Up! is about. I found myself smiling at these young women, thinking "girls are good".

You may recognize the keyboardist and lead singer, Laura Wills, from her Monday Slowdance nights at Blizzarts. Those evenings are characterized by a high school gym rêverie that can soften even the sulkiest ado. Pony Up!, with their buoyant giggles and diffident chord structure, seem to be somewhat of an extension of this.

There are those who claim that Pony Up!'s success is based on the gimmick of them being an all-girl band, that they have no stage presence and that they need to practice more, but these are all lies. Writing songs where the chorus is "you were onstage crying/you got me wet" is talent and whoever says otherwise can bugger off. The girls were all humble smiles, with cute hairstyles and little boys' blazers. They played like they knew what they were doing and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The acts preceding Pony Up! were increasingly better. Beaver, the poet/MC's voice shimmered like a New Foundland iceburg. The Smittens, a "synth-driven quartet who believed too much in the fifties-saturated pop aesthetic" (according to my friend, Peter), played like a more upbeat version of Belle and Sebastian and succeeded in shaking the crowd. Donkey Heart, in particular, were amiable, with songs that chant, "you can't play tuba when you've got braces" and something about a "Jewish Girl". Half of Donkey Heart were playing plastic yellow instrument toys and their Genexxa keyboardist, with her short hair, keyboard scarf, thick glasses and T-shirt that read "War is Bogus", was such a VICE DO it hurt.

The night was not only celebrating Pony Up!'s CD, but also perhaps their new fame in Spin. Does Pony Up! have that "Montreal sound" that Spin has tried to quantify? It's hard to say. Because each of their songs experiments with different styles, perhaps they have not yet found their own sound. Whatever their jingle, Pony Up! know how to work it. My days as a skeptical wet blanket against indie are over. There will be no more efforts to inject the indie audience with an energy they seem to lack. I have seen the Pony Up! light and it is as enchanting as a lice check on a grey day.

[Katie the K. hosts her electronic show Fridays from 2-4 p.m. She is looking forward to her upcoming interview with DJ Hell in the weeks to come.]