The Great American Music Hall was at about half capacity for Patrick Watson’s Sunday night performance, but what the audience lacked in numbers they made up in energy. Before the Montreal-based singer even walked onto the stage, there was a buzz of excitement in the small crowd.
At first, the eagerness of the audience seemed at odds with the band’s quiet, dreamy folk songs. But with every song it played, the band picked up energy and volume, at times building from its lullaby-like melodies into cymbal crashing jam sessions with backing gang vocals reminiscent of Arcade Fire.
The beginning of the set focused on Watson’s airy vocals paired with simple piano riffs. As the night continued, the songs became more and more eclectic, oscillating between genres too fast to even identify the Latin roots of one chorus before they had already played a bluesy bridge into a folk refrain.
Even more varied than the band’s influences was the multitude of instruments used in each song. Odd-looking percussion tools were scattered around the stage. The drummer played not just the standard drum kit, but also many obscure and homemade instruments that I simply could not identify. He held a bow to nearly anything that could have noise conjured out of it, including a saw and, at one point, what appeared to be a soccer trophy.
Watson interspersed the patchwork of tunes with anecdotes relating to the origins of the songs, most pertaining to transient adventures or quiet, bucolic moments. His tone with the audience was charmingly conversational. At points he upheld dialogues with fans that shouted out to him, telling stories about his two children and his small house in Quebec.
Much of the band’s charm lies in the air of camaraderie that hangs heavily around them. A self-described “big traveling family” Patrick Watson and his band radiate affection for each other and for their music. Even in the moments that the style-switches were not seamless and the energy dipped, the sincerity of Watson’s smile outshone it all.