Operation Band Aid at City Place in Santa Ana

The Hype: Gathering a lineup of OC alt-pop and acoustic acts for a Saturday night show is one thing. But when you add a generous Haitian relief effort, a shopping center and copious amounts of free cookies, well, that's just downright awesome. Operation Band Aid garnered plenty of support and interest from local music fans and the businesses that sponsored the event at City Place shopping center in Santa Ana on Saturday. Local sponsors included Carvin guitars, Mother's Market and several others. There were several Locals Only faves on the bill , including Canvas (the event was organized by the band's multi-instrumentalists, Piper Michelle), Barrett Johnson as well as Matt Kollar and the Angry Mob.

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Canvas by Mary Bell Photography
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The Show:  After tuning up their instruments in the freezing night air, the members of Canvas filled the shopping center with their soaring blend of airy vocals and sing-a-long acoustic pop for fans, friends and curious Santa Ana shoppers at Operation Band Aid. The day-long concert was a community effort by local bands and surrounding businesses to donate towards Haitian relief through the Red Cross.

Taking the stage around 6:30 p.m., Canvas unleashed strong, guitar-driven melodies on songs like  "Bite Out of the Sun," which brimmed with three-part harmonies. Despite being derailed once or twice by some strange sound problems, vocalists Doll Knight and Keila Morris, guitarist George Bernal and Michelle powered through the set like champs. At one point, when the band's keyboard crapped out on them, the received a little temporary donation of their own--a keyboard, courtesy of fellow OC rock band the Relative Strangers who had just finished their set.  Rounded out by drummer Gustavo Peraza and multi-instrumentalist Brett Davis, Canvas delivered sentimental sweetness of all shades. The best example came during the moody, swaying chorus of "Bottom of the Sea" as Knight, Morris and Michelle softly cooed: "We could be birds, so free of all the words that make life hazy / We could be birds, so free of all the lies that tie us lonely."

Of course the high point came when they kicked out an unexpected cover of Paula Cole's "I Don't Wanna Wait"---who couldn't  forget the melodramatic, 1998 theme song from Dawson's Creek? By the end of their set, Canvas' sunny sounds managed to warm up the chattering crowd as Echo Echo and the Orange Effect closed out the night. The Relative Strangers, the Trade, Barrett Johnson, Mike Vitale as well as Matt Kollar and the Angry Mob opened the show.

The Crowd: A respectable turnout of bundled up 20-somethings trying too keep warm and older parental types snapping up any seat within 30 feet of the stage (they were also wise enough to bring blankets)Various clusters of hyperactive tweens skipped through the audience, probably dodging their parents who were busy in the checkout line at Mother's Market.

Overheard: "Normally I'm not much of a charity giver," said a random attendee. "Fortunately I'm a whore for free samples."

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