Schmidt plays acoustic sets at Jazz Guys.

Saturday evening, Simone Schmidt, playing under her moniker Fiver, reprised her Stereophonic performance before a hushed crowd in the comfortably full Jazz Guys. Returning after a trip to Nova Scotia to play Halifax’s In Dead of Winter festival, she played a two set show that consisted of much of her new album, Lost the Plot, and a few tunes from her other project, The Highest Order.

Unlike her last appearance, there was no full band and smoke machine to support her, and Schmidt relied only on two guitars for instrumentation. The result was a less formal affair that allowed the short introductions that led into a couple of her songs more weight and space. The songs that benefited from this treatment included “Rage of Plastics,” a story of woman who works in the plant  that she believes gave her husband cancer, being asked to run a marathon to support the search for a cure and a ballad about the WWE wrestler, the Undertaker, dealing with self-doubt after the re-emergence of his half-brother, Kane.

The dimmed light of the venue added a degree of warmth to the already potent mix of the forlorn but adaptive alt-country instrumentation, which adapted itself to accentuate Schmidt’s dark and poetic lyricism. The event provided great contrast to the one that had occurred in George’s Roadhouse the week before, which itself had a feeling of cold to it that emphasized the loneliness found throughout Schmidt’s music rather than the small triumphs that Jazz Guys brought out, resulting in decidedly different experience.

The songs Schmidt played from another project, The Highest Order, also shared in this warmth. Stripped of many of their psychedelic elements, they were much more in line with the work of Schmidt’s solo project, making songs such as “Two Hundred Pounds” and “Rainbow of Blues” brighter and less mediated. The stripped down instrumentation gave the lyrics a more pronounced leading role and granted them a heaviness that made up for the absence of effects typical of The Highest Order’s music.

The gap between the first and second sets was responsible for a good deal of the ambience. A hurried birthday party, which included a cake and a small fireworks display, established a sense of togetherness in the tiny bar. As this is something that festivals seem to miss quite often, no matter how phenomenal the line-up, it was nice to return to what Sackville does so well.

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