Despite a long setup and some technical difficulties, this bizarre and bombastic quintet burst through the eardrums of a handful of people about midnight. The Canadian natives are known for their thrift-store-bought instruments and the extraordinarily high-pitched vocals of lead singer Mat Klachefsky. If one can get past the almost cartoonish singing, Boats provides listeners with complicated, eccentric and surreal arrangements. Comparisons to folky quirk idols Architecture in Helsinki and even skewed pop outfit Sparks come to mind while listening to this batch of talented instrumentalists. They played songs mostly off their 2011 debut album Cannonballs, Cannonballs and their newest release, A Fairway Full of Miners. Some highlights included “Chrome Eyelids” and “Advice on Bears,” a song reminding people that: They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.
Anyone can tweak their sound while recording in order to be considered exquisitely outlandish. The trick is to be able to bring that same cosmic magic to a live audience, and Boats does just that. From the enthusiastic and cheerful “Animated Gifs” to the relatively somber and anthemic “Summercamp vs. the Fake Moustache Tree,” their range was never compromised. Boats’ tender lyrics combined with airy acoustic strings, occasional horns, heavy synth and pre-recorded syncopations to transport listeners to a utopia of transcendent innocence. Each of Boats’ campfire-y compositions brought out memories of childhood idealism and naivety. That’s not to say their music is immature or unaccomplished. Where the lyrics paint a picture of simpler, happier times, the delicate melancholic undertones signify these times are over or never actually existed, almost like each song is telling a story of a childhood they wished they had experienced. Overall, Boats gives one gigantic romp of a show that gets legs jumping, hands clapping and, most importantly, faces smiling. ★★★★☆