The traffic has stopped

Todd MacLean
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Award-winning P.E.I. band wraps up impressive career

It was pretty hard to see the members of Two Hours Traffic perform in their final show earlier this week.

And when I say that it was hard, I don’t mean, of course, that it was physically difficult to see them — as they played on the big and beautiful stage at The Mack, raised up almost like museum pieces for us to view one last time.

But in the three sold-out shows at The Mack on Saturday, Sunday and Monday of this past week (I attended Sunday’s show), the indie-pop foursome of Charlottetown closed a chapter not only in their own lives as musicians, but in the long and ever-evolving book that is the Island indie-rock music scene.

The thing is, it was a really great chapter in this book. And that’s why it was so hard to see it come to a close.

And due to the nature of this farewell show — indeed simply a “one last chance” to see the band in action — I feel it would be best to not so much comment on this individual performance that marks the end, but rather to explore a short retrospective on what Two Hours Traffic has been leading up to this end.

For over a decade, adoration has followed and surrounded this band consisting of Liam Corcoran on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, formerly Alec O’Hanley on electric guitar, Andrew MacDonald on bass (now electric guitar), Derek Ellis on drums and, most recently, Nathan Gill on bass (with Iain McCarvill filling in on bass for this these last shows).

Their award recognition has been plentiful, with ECMA and Music P.E.I. nominations galore, including a win as Music P.E.I.’s group of the year in 2007 and ECMA pop recording of the year in 2008, and even being short-listed for the national Polaris Music prize in 2008. Their music was played on shows like The OC, Gossip Girl, The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Castle. They toured consistently and widely, played the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 and toured to India in that same year — and all this while still remaining rooted and dedicated to the Island scene, saying that one of their most favourite places to play has always been Charlottetown’s all-ages Solid Rock Café.

A band from 2002 to now, they recorded seven albums (four full-length and three EPs), three produced by Joel Plaskett and all threaded with a creativity dedicated to a raw, unpolished-yet-glimmering power-pop sound.

As these guys are longtime colleagues and friends (central to the Charlottetown band network I found to be so tightly-knit and supportive upon my return from a very opposite Toronto scene in 2005), permit me some sentimentality, as I bring you to a night scene to get at the heart of it all:

A sweaty, summery, jam-packed Brennan’s Pub, in the summer of 2005. It was Two Hours Traffic, with The Danks. The Robots and Smothered In Hugs might have even been playing that night, too. The windows of Brennan’s were open for all of Victoria Row to hear, and the sounds of THT filled the night air, as we all belted out Mr. Saturday at the top of our lungs, dancing it up ferociously, with joy pouring out of every pore.

We were Better Sorry Than Safe. We were Stuck for the Summer. We were Heat Seeking. We were Heroes of the Sidewalks, and of course, we were being dragged around by pony tails.

In those years, that time was its own supernova. And yes, things are much different now. But I know its light will carry on as things expand and grow anew.

Despite the weather being a factor this past weekend (as it has been for many events over the past couple of weeks), Two Hours Traffic still put on three stellar shows at The Mack — capping the end of their 2013 Farewell Tour, which brought them to places and venues like Halifax’s The Marquee, Ottawa’s Zaphod’s and Toronto’s Lee’s Palace.

And even though this chapter has reached its end — for this band and for the Charlottetown indie scene of which Two Hours Traffic has been an integral part — in both cases, I look forward to seeing what the next chapters will bring, in this musical book that continues to evolve.

Next week: Another chance for a stormed-out concert, I hope.

Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. He can be reached at or at 626-1242.

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Organizations: The Mack, American Teenager, The Guild Ale House Confederation Singers Youth Chorus Tour

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Iceland, Toronto Vancouver India Ottawa Birmingham Handel New York City.4

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