Last Night: Canned Acoustica III At Warehouse Live

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Canned Acoustica III Warehouse Live Green Room May 26- 2011

How do you soundtrack a good cause? Why, yes, with a good dose of what our friend Haj calls "folksy acoustic stuff." There was plenty on display Thursday at Canned Acoustica III, a homegrown charity event which spotlights local musicians while helping a great cause.

The third installment was a benefit for the Japanese Red Cross Society. For a criminally low $5 donation, fans saw performances by Two Star Symphony, Fat Tony, Hilary Sloan, The Manichean, Jeff Crowder (of Deep Ella), Holy Fiction, The Handshake, Tax The Wolf, and Alicia Gianni.

Host and mustache therapist Mills McCoin kept the crowd thoroughly entertained in between sets, tossing jabs at everyone from band members to chatterboxes.

Among the highlights was Hilary Sloan (above), who set her love narratives against the backdrop of a giggly fiddle. Her voice pierced every corner of Warehouse Live's Green Room and probably scared a few rodents out of their holes.

Almost every song utilized the same build and release system, starting calm and ultimately exploding into an ecstatic yowl. Sloan's pensive performance starkly contrasted the sunny disposition of what was to follow.

Jeff Crowder of the band Deep Ella brought some lighthearted acoustic fun to the room. "I contemplated doing this solo," said Crowder, "but I thought it would be fun to bring this guys with me." Flanked by his bandmates, Crowder gave the crowd a brief tour of his solo cuts, a new Deep Ella song, and a cover of Radiohead's "Black Star."

Another highlight of the evening was Holy Fiction. The six-piece ensemble synthesized smart and sophisticated without being pretentious.

Fat Tony and Two Star Symphony (above) found themselves in the unusual position of being the main attraction without being the closing act. By the time they took the stage at 11:25, everyone had gradually migrated to the front of the stage to get a better look of this unique musical marriage.

Fat Tony is an avid live performer, but no two Fat Tony shows are the same. And while Aftermath wasn't sure what to expect from this one, all doubts were erased as soon as they kicked off the set. The collaboration reminded us of El Michel's Affair's reinterpretation of Wu-Tang classics.

"Luv It Mayne" was backed by a gale of melancholic violin. "Like, Hell Yeah" found able company in the world's happiest strings. "Home" and "Nigga U Ain't Fat" had everyone in the room chanting. Anyone who wasn't was probably a Bulls fan.

All in all, it was a fine evening. Long before Tony and Two Star took the stage, the donation box was overflowing with dollar bills. All that feel-good music wasn't for nothing.

Personal Bias: I like "folksy acoustic stuff."

The Crowd: Local music lovers, from high-school teens to college grads.

Overheard In the Crowd: "We call ourselves sexual cougars. Grrrr!"

See more photos from Thursday on the next page.

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