Elliott BROOD Rocks the Imperial Hall

Story by Michelle McChristie, Photos by Darren McChristie

On Saturday night, Thunder Bay showed some serious love for Hamilton’s Elliott BROOD. Fans packed the Legion Branch 5’s Imperial Hall and swiftly abandoned their seats to jockey for position on the dancefloor during the short lull after openers Mike Fraser (Cartwrights) and Nick Sherman. This is not a commentary on or reflection of the quality of the opening acts—both were exceptional, but it was clear that the crowd was there for a BROOD reunion.

Nick Sherman

I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb to say that the majority of those in attendance had seen Elliott BROOD perform at Crocks at least once. They came with expectations and there wasn’t much time for idle chit-chat once Mark Sasso laid down the first few notes of their opening song. The crowd erupted with a mix of restrained and frenetic enthusiasm to match the band’s. Elliott BROOD is known for energetic shows and there is generally a lot of foot stomping and hand clapping to complement their hard-to-classify style: is it death country, folk/rock, bluegrass, Canadiana or a house-made blend of all three? It doesn’t matter, just call it fun.

Casey Laforet

Years ago, at one of those previous Crocks shows, drummer Stephen Pitkin stepped out behind his kit, handed out wooden spoons and tin plates to the audience, and encouraged them to play along. I like to think that Thunder Bay outdid itself that night—I was sure we must have delivered the loudest percussive accompaniment on that tour (and I think our timing was pretty good too). This time around, there were a few banging on spoons and tin plates, perhaps souvenirs from that show years ago or pulled out of the kitchen cupboard in an act of nostalgia.

Alternative country trio Elliott Brood

When the band wrapped up their set and tried to leave the stage, the audience erupted in calls for an encore. The trio returned quickly and treated fans to a mix of classics, like the anthemic “Write It All Down for You,” and covers, like Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Musical endorphins.

Mark Sasso

I’m not sure if it’s a glitch on their website, but their bio is very succinct for a band whose accolades include ten albums/EPs, numerous tours (including opening for the likes of Wilco and The Black Crows), multiple JUNO nominations/awards, and the impressive accomplishment of sticking with the same lineup for over 20 years. None of this is mentioned. It simply states, “Doing it the Hard Way for 20 Years.” I’m not sure what this means, but Elliott BROOD makes music look easy when they are on the stage.