Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ben Lee, Pony Up! / Sin-é / Oct. 16, 2004

Reviewed by Kathy O’Lay

Montreal’s Pony Up! came to Sin-é and jumped headfirst into the great CMJ band-a-thon with a gleefully unpretentious set filled with sweet-natured power pop. There’s a keyboardist, a guitarist, a bassist, and drummer, and a singer who switches between percussion instruments and concertina. The highlight was a ditty comparing the game o’love to baseball. If they were sad about losing their home team to Washington D.C., it didn’t show. They have a new release coming out in January 2005. I am going to buy it.

Pony Up!’s rhythm section lent a hand to Ben Lee afterwards. Lee ran the risk of turning into this generation’s James Taylor or Donovan—either an angsty bore or a blissed-out flake. Happily, he managed to avoid such an unpleasant fate during his set, which included a couple of really lovely Modest Mouse and Don Henley (!) covers. Cripes, Ben, why did you have to make me like a Nikon Don song? The one sorta low point was a really goofy tribute to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But otherwise, a lot to like here.