Zeus spends most of its time in Canada, which makes sense, they are Canadian after all. They haven’t been back to Madison since I first saw them several years ago with the equally awesome Bahamas and Jason Collett, but that’s all it took for me to fall completely in love with them. It made them my must see at SXSW 2012, and they warrant well worth it trips to Champaign and Chicago. The timing wasn’t ideal for this show, but I was determined to be there. I had unsuccessfully lobbied their booking agent for a house show the next night, but I’m pretty sure I would have been too nervous to do it. It’s been awhile since I’ve been that in awe of a band. Despite having seen them several times, I’m still too intimidated to say more than “great show” to any of them.
They only have two full length records to their name, last year’s Busting Visions and 2010’s Say Us, but they recently released an EP of interesting covers called, appropriately enough, Cover Me. In addition to songs from bands ranging from Big Star to the Flaming Lips, the record also features their live staple “That’s All,” the Genesis tune is always a highlight of the live show. I was worried that maybe they had retired it, but tonight it showed up as part of an earned two song encore. They have developed a decent fan base in Chicago and I wasn’t the only one singing along to “Kindergarten,” “The Renegade” (no, not that one) and “The River by the Garden” from Say Us and “Are you Gonna Waste My Time” from the new record. As always the set seemed too short and there were songs that I didn’t get to hear (“The Sound of You” would have been awesome), but it was satisfying all the same. I can only hope they get back this way again soon, and it would be even better if they make it to Madison. After all, Wisconsin isn’t that far from Canada.
I missed the opening band but was impressed enough by the half set I saw from second band Ponderosa that I picked up their new release on the way out, and I was a little surprised to see that it was on New West who usually traffic in bigger names. They looked like they would sound like the Drive By Truckers but they ended up being closer to My Morning Jacket. Though now that I think about it, MMJ actually looks like they would sound like DBT. Anyway, it was pretty stuff with a nice touch of reverb. While some songs were repetitive and sleepy, the balance of the set was catchy and creative enough that I was convinced I needed a CD. It made for a nice listen on the bus ride home.