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Sam Roberts thrills crowd at the Square

There are two parts to Thursday at the Square: The part that is dedicated to the music and the part that is socializing. If you were focused on the latter this past Thursday, you surely missed out. Montreal's Sam Roberts Band put on a show I will never forget in front of a healthy crowd of hippies and socialites.

I don't know exactly what it is, but there is something about the Sam Roberts Band that sets them apart from everyone else. Maybe it's their groovy psychedelic sound; maybe it's the modern yet classic rock fusion; or maybe it's the way each member of the band passionately engages the music.

Opening for them was Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, who offered a pure yet simple brand of folk rock. Not only is Grace her name, but it fits her style. The beautiful, young singer belted her heart out while either playing her organ or swaying her hips to the tambourine, while her Nocturnals never seemed to move an inch. The set was more than an hour long, and even though after a while all the songs seemed to blend together, the soul coming from Potter was hard to ignore.

The Sam Roberts Band finally emerged, opening with "The Bootleg Saint" off their latest album, "Chemical City." Each scruffy member of the band clearly had energy from the start, and they looked genuinely happy to be there.

Roberts has a strong physical presence; as his fingers worked the guitar his veins were popping all up his neck and down his arms during the entire set. His stage face (for once not bearded) rivals that of John Mayer's. The players seemed to adapt their instruments as if they were body parts that they were enthusiastically born to play.

Between playing "The Resistance" and "Hard Road", Roberts told crowd "you should dance as much as you can because tomorrow is Friday and Friday deserves a clear conscience." The crowd adored the set, singing along to every song. Choruses could be heard echoing throughout the square. There was even crowd surfing. Song favorites included "The Gate", "Brother Down", a popular single, "Mind Flood", the epic jam session, and then encores "With a Bullet" and "Where Have All the Good People Gone?" Between songs, Roberts took a moment to say how much he enjoys Buffalo, and at one point he even munched on a chicken wing.

The nasty weather cleared up from the morning and stayed clear until right after the show finished, providing humidity and a happy atmosphere until the rain decided to come down once again. Nonetheless, fans of all ages came together to love folk and rock at a new level.

Jess Lewis will be a second-year student at Ryerson in Toronto.

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