The Boo Radley Project @Brothers Brewing by Dana

To aid in kicking off the first weekend of Downtown Guelph’s Music Weekend Series, The Boo Radley Project put on an excellent show at the Brothers Brewing Company Ale House in the historic Petrie Building this past Sunday afternoon.

I arrived a bit late, but was able to watch almost all of The Boo Radley Project’s two hour set. All in all, it was a vivacious, exciting boogie – the whole performance. Equipped with a great sense of humour, spooky blow-up lawn decor and projections of home-movies and Pokémon scenes, the enthusiastic 7-sometimes-8-piece ensemble dove head first into the funk-hole and took the packed ale house on a wild ride. The group is mostly based in Guelph/Elora, with some from Montréal, Toronto and Vaughan, as well, and with the Downtown brewery doors open, they localized a large crowd. Their stage presence as a group struck me as very comfortable, kind and flexible, as the members were at times switching between their many instruments, including a trumpet, violin, electric mandolin, bongos and a couple of 6-string basses. Among their tasty originals, they performed covers of The Misfits, John Mellencamp, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Talking Heads, with a bonus cover of Kool and the Gang’s “Jungle Boogie,” which got those who weren’t already out of their seats moving.

The band’s ability to improvise and make the most of their allotted time was impressive – I could see frontman Emmett quickly communicating with the rest of the group to play another progression and let trumpet man Raphaël carry on a little longer, which was a real treat, as I don’t often get to hear live brass at my usual metal or folk outings. In pretty much every song, each instrument had its own moment, and remaining members ducked down to make sure you knew who to look at, which I found especially sweet. Throughout the set they told stories of how they came across certain songs, and their inside-joke charm really made me feel like I was at one of their personal jam sessions. It was a warm-fuzzy kind of thing.
Their music was excellent; fast paced, energetic and full. I would describe it from my frame of reference as a hearty mix of Vampire Weekend, Five Alarm Funk and The Growlers. I really, really enjoyed it. The raspiness of the lead’s voice as well as the use of both strings and brass created a full, musically enhanced hug, if that hug were also a dance. The whole performance was so full of ska-funk energy, and everyone was moving. Even when the band slowed things down and played a country song they said they learned while stopping into the Boots and Hearts festival, just while they were in the area, the crowd didn’t lose focus. Brant, the man of the mandolin, lent his voice to the tune and left several of my surrounding friends in shock. The group’s talent, coordination and a strong will to be flexible and dynamic in structure yielded an engaging and poised set. With a few concluding words from Nik Wever of GAIN music, the event had come to a close, and the blow-up-take-down had begun.

If you’re interested in seeing The Boo Radley Project in action, which i strongly recommend, check them out at one of their fast-approaching shows in Montréal or Peterborough on the 18th or 19th. I also recommend you check out their Facebook page: where you’ll see their sense of humour firsthand (especially in their bios) while keeping up-to-date with their success. I had an excellent time at this event, supporting the Downtown Guelph music scene and my friends at GAIN ( and I hope to see some more familiar faces at the next Music Weekend event on Saturday at Royal Electric.

Brought to you by Downtown Guelph businesses, Celebrate Ontario and local music promoters, the Music Weekend series highlights up-and-coming local acts and their hosting venues through PWYC shows across the Downtown area. In its third year, an additional artistic element has been newly cultivated by the invited presence of non-musical art such as spoken word, dance and live art performances. Each event provides a comprehensive glimpse into the Downtown Guelph art scene, and encourages Guelphites and visitors alike to explore venues they otherwise might not have known to visit. The project spans over 10 weeks, between January 5th and March 10th, and more info can be found about the upcoming instalments at the Facebook page:

Dana CK is a writer with Music Lives and a booking intern for GAIN Music. She’s also the cover girl you see freezing through the winter months at the door of DSTRCT. Find her on Facebook (Dana CK) or Instagram (@ddanasdfghjkl) to ask about the musical happenings of Guelph.

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