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Thursday, March 13 • 10:00pm - 10:30pm
The Mission District

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The Mission District may have called their full-length debut Youth Games, but there's nothing frivolous or shallow about it. This is a musically mature and compelling work, one that reflects the wealth of creative experience the still young sextet has already accumulated. "We came up with the title Youth Games, as the record is in many ways about us, reflecting on the end of our teenage years and where we are going from here," explains lead singer and lyricist David Rancourt. "We wanted to capture a certain youthful energy." Mission accomplished here. A musical and lyrical exuberance flows through all its songs, a collection of 'all killer, no filler' material destined to make a real impact. This is the kind of album that can give pop music its good name back. "We didn't want to write a self-indulgent and arty record," David declares. "We wanted to write a pop record. We wanted to have big choruses that you could sing along to, and something that would really come across live." The Mission District sound has a definite trans-Atlantic feel. Rancourt cites the likes of '80s Brit Pop bands as The Cure, Tears For Fears, and Talk Talk as sources of inspiration, alongside such contemporary American power-pop outfits as Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, and The Get Up Kids. Those influences can be detected in the ringing guitar, swirling keyboard sounds, and full vocal harmonies, a perfect frame for David's melodic and plaintive voice and accessible yet smart lyrics. There's a pleasing diversity of tempos and tones here, ranging from the irresistibly catchy and upbeat "Age Of Pretending" and propulsive pop gem "Come On" to the atmospheric and dramatic ballad "Anchors." The musical empathy between Rancourt and guitarists Travis Barfoot and Rob Rousseau isn't surprising, given that the three founding members of The Mission District have been playing together for five years now. Prior to that, the multi-talented Rancourt had been, from age 14, drummer in popular ska band The Cartel. Travis, Rob and David were previously in a pop-punk band, Full Count, that put out an EP and toured, though David terms it "more of a fun post high-school thing. When that group folded, we just got together and started laying down templates for new stuff we wanted to work on." With the addition of Antoine Rochette (bass), they were soon playing local gigs, and attempting to carve out a stylistic niche in the convoluted and eclectic Montreal music scene. The songs they wrote as this foursome resulted in two independently produced eps, and formed the basis of what would eventually become Youth Games. The lineup is now rounded out by Evan Clarke (keyboards) and Mike Hand (drums). The Mission District have blown away crowds as the opening act for the likes of The Bravery, Mobile, and Elbow, and now have a loyal base of fans in both Montreal and Toronto. That audience is about to expand rapidly, given the buzz already building around Youth Games. To record the album, The Mission District set up shop in the Toronto studio of noted producer Matt DeMatteo (Hawksley Workman, Big Wreck, Mobile). His hands-on approach and clean production sound are definite factors in the resounding success that is this record. "Matt even played drums and added extra guitar and bass on some tracks," recalls Rancourt. "He'll push his arrangement ideas, and, even though we occasionally butted heads, that did make it better. Re-locating to Toronto for the sessions also put a lot of pressure on the band emotionally, but I think it was well-channelled." The Mission District are now eager to take their show on the road. "Playing live is what it's about for us really," the band's charismatic frontman explains. "I'd say I'm rather a manic showman, and I feed off the energy of the audience. I definitely feel comfortable out there, especially in front of really large crowds." With the release of Youth Games March 1, 2008, it's time to explore The Mission District. It's a 'hood you won't want to leave.

Thursday March 13, 2008 10:00pm - 10:30pm
Maggie Mae's 323 E 6th St

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