The rivalry between Canada and the U.S. doesn't stretch beyond hockey, apparently. When it comes to rock, Canadians are welcomed with open arms (and wallets) by their neighbors to the south.
Matthew Good and his band performed a lengthy, emotional, tautly paced set Saturday in the Town Ballroom that one fan described as "pretty much a 'greatest hits' set list." Though Good lacks the arena-rock grandiosity of Our Lady Peace, for example -- or the poetic urgency and "performance art" aspects of the Tragically Hip -- his singer/songwriter-based alternative rock is simultaneously idiosyncratic and populist.
His chord progressions can be oddly jarring at times, and his lyrics might aptly be described as "in your face," but throughout Saturday's show, Good bent over backwards to court the crowd's affections. His efforts were rewarded with an almost visceral outpouring of love.
Since splitting his abundantly successful Matthew Good Band some 10 years back, Good has simultaneously broadened the sonic and harmonic palate of his music, and added increasingly acerbic political and social observations on the lyrical front.
Much of Saturday's set displayed Good's evolution as a songwriter, though it should be noted that the "fist in the air" histrionics of the Matthew Good Band hit "Hello Time Bomb" was received rapturously by the crowd. Material from the new "Vancouver" album fared nearly as well.
Standouts from the set -- "Great Whales Of the Sea," "Giant," and "Black Helicopter" -- soared on the collective strength of Good's band, which walked the wire between a nigh-on-punk sense of urgency and a more refined, esoteric manipulation of texture.
Good's greatest gift may well be his ability to conjure music that is thoughtful and intelligent while still maintaining a sense of muscular menace.
Saturday's show proved that he's become increasingly proficient at parlaying that gift.