Looking like a rag tag band of musicians, colorful Canadian six-piece The Strumbellas kicked off the first night of the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas 2016. Filled with so much mirth and good cheer, it was easy to forgive them for music that was sometimes off-key. Playing a short set of pop-savvy folk rock akin to The Lumineers their tunes are big on radio-friendly, chorus sing-alongs that we're all still humming the day after.
However, early in their set some technical difficulties and gaffes caused them to falter. "If you want to know what it's like to mess up on your own song at The Forum, come and see me later, " frontman Simon Ward apologized. With offers from violinist, Izzy Ritchie for hugs from the very cuddly other vocalist Dave Ritter, how could we resist?Besides being the first act meant the Forum was at barely half the capacity yet.
Yet, those that missed the Strumbellas also lucked out on the opportunity to hear songs from their excellent third album Hope. It is the Juno-nominated Toronto band's most ambitious LP. The one they've had most time to craft. And it shows. The first single "Spirits" is already a massive hit. “I’ve got guns in my head and they won’t go/ Spirits in my head and they won’t go,” rousing sing alongs but also prompting many to write to them. Fans have opened up about their afflictions, or struggles with depression and loss, and reveal how listening to the song has helped them.
They also performed follow-up single, "We Don't Know" which allowed Ward's earnest vocals to shine before they all joined if for "we don't know the roads that we're heading down/ We don't know if we're lost that will find a way."
The Strumbellas are currently on the last leg of their US tour and will head to Australia next year. KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas continues tonight with The Head And The Heart, Bastille and Green Day.