This is the kind of concert that you regret missing. The recordings suggest the live shows were insanely exciting, and the million or so guest musicians surely added to the good times.
There's nothing musically groundbreaking here, but it's a fun listen with a lot of energy. The album maintains a consistency from start to finish, with only a couple of songs that don't really fit. "Lonely Guy," which sounds a bit like Radiohead's "Creep," is an unnecessary dark spot that -- based on the lackluster crowd noise -- was as out of place live as it is on the CD. The same problem arises on disc two, where the psychedelia of Syd Barrett's "Lucifer Sam" drags down the energy without contributing anything meaningful.
The instrumental tracks that are interspersed across the first disc are the high points of In Concert. They're nearly all upbeat and driving, and they show talent and a genuine appreciation for traditional country and bluegrass. The vocal performances all sound decent until Neko Case starts singing "Hold On Hold On," at which point the beauty and strength of her voice makes every other singer pale in comparison.
Packaging: n/a (Missing and/or altered by EPFL)
The cover is very cool, in a trippy, homemade kind of way. The back tells us that the album was recorded on Feb. 3rd and 4th at Lee's Palace in Toronto (not surprising, since Toronto is The Sadies' hometown and a large number of the guests are Canadian), and the guests ranged from Garth Hudson to Neko Case to Steve Albini to Margaret Good (the mother of The Sadies' Dallas and Travis Good). There is no booklet and no other information included, so it's virtually impossible to determine who played what on what song. If there were any neat little tidbits that The Sadies included for the listeners' enjoyment, patrons of the EPFL won't know about them.
Listen if you like: The Band, Gram Parsons, Wilco, Neko Case, Americana (or maybe Canadamericana?)
If it were food, it'd be: Fresh sausage and grits, along with a bunch of coffee from Tim Hortons.