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'Thirst' For the Cup? City and Colour Playing Leafs Pre-Game Show

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The city? Toronto. The colour? Leafs blue. City and Colour will play a free show in Toronto May 1, to help launch the Stanley Cup playoffs. Watch it live at CBCSports.ca -- Dustin Rabin/Listen Harder

Because the Leafs making the playoffs isn't enough reason to start a party in Toronto, let's add some rock 'n' roll.

Wednesday, May 1 - minutes before the puck drops on the first Leafs game of the series - City and Colour will be in Toronto's Maple Leaf Square playing a free outdoor concert.

His complete four-song set will be live streamed at CBCSports.ca starting at 6:30 p.m. ET before fans - City and Colour's Dallas Green included - watch the Leafs play the Bruins from the square's jumbo TVs.

And when it comes to NHL collaborations, this isn't Green's first time 'round the rink, so to speak.

He's been called by the Hockey Night in Canada crew before. In 2009, HNIC used his Gord Downie collab "Sleeping Sickness" as part of a playoff highlight reel.



In 2011, "Fragile Bird," from City and Colour's Little Hell, soundtracked a promo for the Stanley Cup final.



But jock jams these songs ain't.

City and Colour's specialty is introspective fare - the sort that's won Green Junos for songwriting and put him on top of the Canadian charts. (Little Hell debuted at No. 1 in Canada, for instance.) Green's voice, too, is about as smooth as a Zamboni-cleared rink. So popularity aside, what makes a City and Colour tune perfect for a hockey game?

"As much as City and Colour is more on the mellow side, there are still upbeat tracks," Green tells CBC Live, en route to rehearsals. "A lot of athletes have told me, like Canadian kids told me, they listen to City and Colour before a game, because City and Colour can kind of calm you down and get you in that different sort of headspace," he continues.

"Some people might listen to crazy hip hop or metal" or Green's former band, the recently retired hardcore act Alexisonfire, "to get themselves amped up for a game. But the other side of that is some people listen to something calming."

For the sake of those watching City and Colour's pre-game show - not staring down the Boston Bruins at centre ice - Green won't be lulling the mob at Maple Leaf Square. (Save that crowd-control tactic for later in the Eastern Conference, maybe.)

"No! I'm going to play all the rock 'n' roll ones," he says of Wednesday's setlist.

Expect to hear "Thirst," City and Colour's latest single, for instance.

The song, off upcoming album The Hurry and the Harm (June 4) packs some stomp for a mid-tempo tune about walking wounded, and features a skuzzy guitar line that squeaks and fuzzes for a hint of unexpected rock grime.

"I would say 'Thirst' is a stand-alone track in terms of the grit to it," Green says, explaining what fans can expect from The Hurry and the Harm.



If the disc has a hallmark, Green says it's the "fullest sounding" City and Colour record to date. "I hate to say the word 'most fully produced' because I don't want to make it sound like it's over-produced," he clarifies.

What he means, then, is this: "It's definitely the fullest band record."

For a solo project, Green says City and Colour was always meant to have more of a "band" sound.

"People don't understand the first City and Colour record [Sometimes, 2005] is just me and a guitar because I recorded it in two days. And that's all I had to do. It was never supposed to be anything more than that because I didn't think it could be," he says.

"I just happened to write a bunch of songs for this record where I think they would have suffered if I'd just stripped them away to their core."

While recording at Blackbird Studios in Nashville with old collaborator, producer Alex Newport (Death Cab For Cutie), the duo sent invites to a wish-list of studio veterans including bass player Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs) and drummer James Gadson. ("He played drums on two songs and he's the most recorded drummer in history," Green enthuses. "He's 72 and he's played with Bill Withers and Ray Charles and Paul McCartney!")

Green assembled a new touring band, as well. Lawrence is on board, along with guitarist Dante Schwebel (Dan Auerbach), drummer Doug MacGregor (Constantines), keyboard player Matt Kelly. They'll be the guys on Green's tour all summer, including stops in Western Canada in June and July. They'll also be on stage Wednesday.

"Something like this, getting to play a party for the beginning of the Toronto playoffs, I think back to watching hockey games with my father growing up," says Green. "Like, playing guitar, that's not something you think is ever going to happen, you know?"

City and Colour performs at Toronto's Maple Leaf Square Wednesday, May 1. Presented by the NHL and SiriusXM Canada, the event begins at 5 p.m. Live stream the performance online at CBCSports.ca starting at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT). Tweet along with @HockeyNight.

The Hurry and the Harm arrives in stores June 4. Visit CityandColour.com for tour dates and more info.

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