Geoffroy / ren 27 Club, Ottawa ON, November 28
Published Nov 29, 2019I could tell the Geoffroy concert at the 27 Club on Thursday night was going to be popular; the 27 Club isn't the largest venue, but judging by the line snaking down York St. it was abundantly clear the Montreal native's popularity had increased exponentially since his last visit in 2018.
Geoffroy may record exclusively in English but his fan base is decidedly split, with a very strong Franco presence in attendance. This French-English duality would become somewhat of a theme throughout the night, a distinctively Ottawa-Gatineau phenomenon.
First, 17-year-old Toronto pop singer-songwriter ren, whom the Toronto Star recently coined as the "new Billie Eilish or the next Nirvana," took to the stage in an oversized Sublime tee and Doc Martens, looking every bit the part of a '90s VSCO girl. Her music, inoffensive ska-tinged alt-pop, was already familiar to a number of people in the audience, not bad for an opening act who's yet to release an EP. Doesn't hurt that she's recently signed a record deal with Geffen and seems to have an impressive team behind her, including photographers and videographers capturing every moment of her second-ever solo gig.
Having cut her teeth at various open mics around Toronto, she's already quite comfortable onstage, confidently bantering with the crowd and dropping as many f-bombs as she has songs. No doubt Geffen is going to ride this "new Billie Eilish" wave, and given that her latest single "idc" has already racked up over 100K views on YouTube in less than ten days, they'd be crazy not to. Shout out to her correct pronunciation of Geoffroy, which you'd expect a native Torontonian to butcher.
The energy in the room shifted dramatically as Geoffroy's band as the man of the hour and his three-piece band, glass of wine in hand, take to the stage and launch into "Come Around" from Geoffroy's latest LP, 1952, released earlier this month. Halfway through the song, the frontman steps away from behind the keys to pick up the guitar for a solo. This is a well-oiled machine that leaves just enough room for improvisation as to not feel too rehearsed. Jordan, the percussionist, is part musician part pantomime, providing much of the night's considerable entertainment, giving every maracas shake everything he's got.
After a few adoring shouts from the crowd in French, it's as if Geoffroy just then realizes that we're bordering Québec and there might be a number of Francophones in the crowd. When he finally addresses the crowd in French it erupts with pride and glee, setting the tone for the remainder of the stage banter. The strongest response is reserved for "How You Feeling Now?" that provoked an instant dance-along, with Geoffroy quickly capitalizing on the crowd's energy by going front of stage like its messiah before making his way among his band members for a quick dance and some selfies.
Geoffroy is a showman through and through, albeit a deceptively restrained one, which comes through in his ability to banter easily with the crowd and take everything in stride. An encore features standout "Raised by Wolves," from his debut album Coastlines, reminiscent of Woodkid's best songs, and ends with its titular song. "You've been an amazing crowd, I don't say that to everyone" he assures, and whether or not this is genuine, he gives you no reason to doubt his sincerity.