While speaking with Army Girls lead singer Carmen Elle before the show, she promised that she would try to keep her hair flips to a minimum. I knew it was a futile promise since Elle doesn’t maintain a standard stage persona, she just lets her body and playing go with the flow. When the set started Elle asked the crowd what setting they would like her guitar on, after giving a few options the still pretty quiet Lee’s Palace made their choice “You never know what you will get with these festival amps”.
Unlike Elle’s other band she fronts, DIANA, which is a jazz synth pop band with mostly lovelorn songs, Army Girls is much more blues and alt rock based. Plenty of fuzzed out guitar solos and lyrics about heartbreak and disappointment. Consider it the two personalities of a creative mind. Drummer Andy Smith kept tight almost marching band like beats, which were easy to groove to and mixed with Carmen’s infectious energy they make a formidable duo. It seemed like the bittersweet lyrics were always sung with a smirk as if there was some knowing subtext that only Elle knew.
As the venue started to fill up half way through their set Elle exclaimed, “If you are here, you either don’t like soccer or St. Vincent” a nod to the fact that Annie Clark was playing shortly at Yonge-Dundas Square and the Honduras-Ecuador World Cup game was probably just wrapping up. At one point Elle compared her soloing to Morgan Freeman doing narrations on nature documentaries. They are good but nothing really original. Comments like that make it easy to like her as she has a fantastic self-deprecating sense of humor. They finished the set with “Power”, which was described as a breakup song, and not something like “My Body Is a Wonderland” (which Elle included playing most of the first verse as a joke). It had a punkish sound with loud distorted playing. Elle’s affable personality is always worth the price of admission to a show.