Sunday, June 30, 8 p.m.
Wine-Ohs (811 1st St. S.W.)
Cover charge: $12
For a musician, playing in front of hometown crowds can be deceiving. There’s plenty of support, but you’re not likely to get an impartial critique of your playing, songwriting or stage presence. Your girlfriend’s brother brings his buddies out, everyone has a few drinks, and at the end of the night it’s high fives all around.
That’s one reason Edmonton band Short of Able likes playing in Calgary.
“Outside your hometown, it gets real,” says lead guitarist Devin Phillips. “We love Calgary audiences.”
Short of Able has a sound that strikes a fine balance between melodic Liverpool-infused acoustic folk and all-out rock ‘n’ roll. “We’ve been described as ‘Blue Rodeo meets the Foo Fighters,'” Phillips says.
The band’s sophomore album, “The Last One’s Gone,” has echoes of those two influences along with hints of a few other acts that have successfully fused country-folk lyrical sensibilities with pop melodies and rock crunch – think Grapes of Wrath, Northern Pikes or the Odds, for example.
Playing for impartial audiences, especially in Calgary and Saskatoon, where Short of Able has gained a sizeable following, has helped the band perfect its craft, Phillips says.
“With every show, we’re trying to get better as a band. Our goal is trying to create a great experience for the audience. At the end of the day, our music does the talking.”
The band’s origins go back to 2007, but the current lineup of Phillips, vocalist Justin Wisser, bassist James Rutherford and drummer Colin Ouellette has been together for two years.
Sunday night at Wine-Ohs, Short of Able will roll out its “unplugged” setup, with acoustic guitars backed up by drums and electric bass.
“When you’re playing acoustically, the truth really comes out,” Phillips says. “That’s what’s most important to us. We have lot of fun with these acoustic sets.”
On “The Last One’s Gone,” Short of Able’s recorded sound is impressively polished and dynamic. Each instrument has a defined space in the mix, and all work together to support Wisser’s clear, powerful vocals. The self-produced final product is the result of eight months’ hard work in the band’s home studio.
“It took us about 500 man-hours, but it only cost us $800. We wanted to take our time and do it right and not be looking at the clock.
“It’s cool for us to see all our hard work paying off. We don’t really care about making money, we just want people to hear our music.”