Tuesday, December 31, 2013

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Diamond Rings: photo by Michael Ligon
  Diamond Rings: photo by Michael Ligon

Just before I head out for New Year's Eve, I want to apologize for letting the blog fade as it has. It's not dead but it's definitely on life support. And I'm alright with that. I have no plans whatsoever for the blog for the foreseeable future other than throwing up a post when it fancies me. If we've met, feel free to Facebook me. Or if you fancy, subscribe to my Flickr. I haven't made the jump to Twitter or Instagram, but in 2014 I'm particularly leaning towards the latter. Oh and perhaps starting a Tumblr.

I haven't stopped seeing live music either, and have been particularly busy in November and the first half of December having seen sets by My Bloody Valentine, Jessie Ware, Cut Copy, Diamond Rings and King Krule as well as taking in just a bit of CMJ (most notably finally checking out Yamantaka Sonic Titan who were fantastic) in New York City while I was there back in October. You can check out the photo-sets below:

Photos: CMJ, New York City (October 15-16, 2013)
Photos: My Bloody Valentine @ Kool Haus, Toronto (November 5, 2013)
Photos: Jessie Ware @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (November 6, 2013)
Photos: Cut Copy @ Danforth Music Hall, Toronto (November 15, 2013)
Photos: Diamond Rings, part of Cavalcade of Lights, Toronto (November 30, 2013)
Photos: King Krule, TOPS @ Lee's Palace, Toronto (December 10, 2013)

So Happy New Year and all that jazz, and I am looking forward to 2014!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Supercrawl @ James Street North, Hamilton Ontario (September 14, 2013)

Another edition of Hamilton, Ontario's fine and free(!) music and arts festival Supercrawl happened last month happening over September 13 and 14, and I checked out it's final day taking in the visual and performing arts as well as an array of great musical acts that were being offered. Check out some photos below:

  photo by Michael Ligon

  photo by Michael Ligon

  photo by Michael Ligon

  Speedy Ortiz: photo by Michael Ligon

  Diamond Rings: photo by Michael Ligon

  photo by Michael Ligon

  Joel Plaskett Emergency: photo by Michael Ligon

  : photo by Michael Ligon

  Yo La Tengo: photo by Michael Ligon

  : photo by Michael Ligon

  Fucked Up: photo by Michael Ligon

  : photo by Michael Ligon

  Passion Pit: photo by Michael Ligon

The whole photoset can be viewed here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Deerhunter, Marnie Stern @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (September 12, 2013)

I don't recall if Atlanta's Deerhunter have been through town since opening for Spoon at Sound Academy back in April 2010 but I did get another chance to see the group again in 2011 when I travelled to Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival that year. Most recently the band's been promoting their sixth studio album entitled Monomania. I missed the first openers, a sole male behind an array of electronic doodads and a keyboard, but did catch the second opener, Marnie Stern who herself and her two-member band are promoting a new album released earlier in the year cheekily entitled The Chronicles of Marnia. I've been lazy to review shows, although in brief will mention that Deerhunter played a fine set that encompassed elements of pop, punk, feedback and drone. I've thought this before but on paper they sound derivative but live they are entirely delectable, lead vocalist Bradford Cox unpredictable / wacky stage presence notwithstanding. Check out the photos from the show.

Exclaim and The National Post have reviews of the show.

  Marnie Stern & Bradford Cox: photo by Michael Ligon

  Deerhunter: photo by Michael Ligon

  Bradford Cox of Deerhunter: photo by Michael Ligon

Photos: Deerhunter, Marnie Stern @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (September 12, 2013)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Big Sound @ Celebration Square, Mississauga (September 7, 2013)

  The Big Sound: photo by Michael Ligon

It was with great pleasure to have Toronto Motown/soul Collective The Big Sound come to my 'hood to play Celebration Square in Mississauga as part of an end of summer bash. Having honed their skills now for the past two years having had a semi-periodic residency at The Great Hall in Toronto as well playing sets during The Toronto Jazz Festival the past few years and down at Harbourfront Centre this past Canada Day, Mississauga got a taste first hand of a group of musicians whose love for Motown and soul really shone through. The musicians, which were numerous, including multiple horn players and string instruments, were competent but like the original Motown and soul acts of yesteryear, it's the vocalists who really shined, particularly on songs such as James Brown's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World", Aretha Franklin's "Think" and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together". I felt more than a little disappointed that a large number of crowd wasn't dancing [I blame that partially on the organizers who put out chairs], and even at the light-hearted prompting of one of the female vocalists who jokingly announced something along the lines that the Beaver Tails food truck off to the side was now closed, that still didn't seem to convince people. In any case there a was small but loyal contingent of participants near the front more than willingly to dance and or clap along and take up the slack. Overall, it was a pleasure to see the band in my neck of the woods, and will hope it won't be the last.

Check out a review of the show over at The Medium. More photos over at Mississauga.com.

  The Big Sound: photo by Michael Ligon

  The Big Sound: photo by Michael Ligon

  The Big Sound: photo by Michael Ligon

  The Big Sound: photo by Michael Ligon

Photos: The Big Sound @ Celebration Square, Mississauga (September 7, 2013)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Depeche Mode, Bat For Lashes @ Molson Ampitheatre, Toronto (September 1, 2013)

  Depeche Mode: photo by Michael Ligon

It's only been a little over three weeks since I saw UK greats Depeche Mode at Molson Ampitheatre but somehow feels like an eternity. Back in the mid to late 80's when I was in high school my favourite bands were The Smiths, The Cure, New Order and Jesus and Mary Chain. Another band I had an affinity for were Depeche Mode who soundtracked many a Saturday night back then when I use to listen to CFNY 102.1 FM's "Club 102" DJ'd by Chris Sheppard [back when he was actually spinning GOOD music]. It is somewhat surprising that I'd never seen them live. I'd consider going to their 2009 show at Molson Ampitheatre and had let that opportunity slip by and it took a good four years for them to return so I wasn't about to let the opportunity to slip by again.

Opening act Bat For Lashes made a valiant effort to entertain the crowd, vocalist Natasha Khan supple, ethereal vocals wrapping around such delectable tracks as "What's A Girl To Do", "Sleep Alone" and "Daniel and while I enjoyed it, I felt a bit disconnected watching it from the lawns without the benefit of even some video projections. Some appreciate, if polite, applause from the crowd but there was no question why everyone was there that night.

Bringing their "Delta Machine" tour to town, the band's 13th album of the same name released earlier this year, the three original members of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher plus a few supporting musicians showed that they still bristle with energy. Given their decades-spanning catalogue, there were innumberable variations of a setlist the band could have come up with but I would say that the setlist they had for this show was a good balance between their classic period [anything from 1993's Songs of Faith and Devotion and prior] and their latter-day material [starting with 1997's Ultra, the band which for me didn't seem the same after the departure of member Alan Wilder; I'd basically stopped listening to them at this point]. The classic period material was of course my favourite with the highlights for me being Martin Gore's vocal take on a sublime acoustic version of "But Not Tonight", the trifecta of songs closing the main set which included "A Question Of Time", "Enjoy The Silence" and "Personal Jesus" and the 4-song sequnce of "Halo", "Just Can't Get Enough", "I Feel You", and "Never Let Me Down Again" (complete with the obligatory mass audience arm swaying) that ended off the encore. That the show took place the day before Labor Day, while the flickering lights of the Canadian National Exhibition midway shone in the distance, there was an overwhelming sense of nostalgia that came over me at times, that had I seen them while I was still in high school or university (back in the mid to late 80's and into the early nineties) and the show had taken place just before Labor Day, this is what it would have felt like. So it took me more than twenty years to see them live. Better late than never.

  Depeche Mode: photo by Michael Ligon

  Depeche Mode: photo by Michael Ligon

  Depeche Mode: photo by Michael Ligon

Photos: Depeche Mode, Bat For Lashes @ Molson Ampitheatre, Toronto (September 1, 2013)

Monday, September 09, 2013

Riot Fest @ Fort York Garrison Common, Toronto (August 25, 2013)

Ushering in the dog days of summer a few weeks back was the two-day long weekend travelling music festival Riot Fest which took over the grounds of Fort York Garrison Common. Day One was strictly for the younger generation (eg. A Day to Remember, Pierce the Veil, Every Time I Die, Mayday Parade, Grade, The Ghost Inside & Structures) which I passed on and so I chose to take in Day Two only which while including newer acts like Best Coast mostly featured bands of an older ilk including Dinosaur Jr., Rocket From The Crypt, The Weakerthans, Iggy and The Stooges and of course the much anticipated reunion of The Replacements, Toronto which had the honour of hosting the first live reunion of Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson (plus backing band of Josh Freese and David Minehan) after 22 years. Other than Best Coast, I'd not seen any of the other acts live. I'd caught a J Mascis solo set at the James Street Supercrawl in Hamilton a few Septembers ago, a Lou Barlow in-store a few years back and a John Samson solo set at Lee's Palace back in 2009 but save for that, Riot Fest was my first time seeing their respective bands as well as my first time seeing Rocket From The Crypt, Iggy and The Stooges and The Replacements.

  Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast: photo by Michael Ligon

I kind of remember Best Coast as a one trick pony, playing the same garagey, surf-pop number over and over, but that wasn't true at all during their set. They're more varied sonically than that and although their are particularly innovative, they managed to charm me by the end of their set. Bethany mentioned how it was an honour to play the festival and that she was the only girl amongst the bands in the lineup, which drew applause from the crowd.

  J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.: photo by Michael Ligon

Dinosaur Jr.' set, while great, felt low-key surprisingly even during J's most shredded guitar solos but it was great to hear "The Wagon" and "Just Live Heaven". Lou Barlow seemed much more animated on bass than I would have imagined.

  The Venue: photo by Michael Ligon

Ah yes, Fort York Garrison Common. You became almost a second home to me this summer, having been there already twice before for other festivals [TURF, The Grove Music Festival].

  Rocket From The Crypt: photo by Michael Ligon

San Diego's horn-embellished punks Rocket From The Crypt were a name that floated around during my indie rock 90's days who I never really explored in depth back then. They were very much an enigma then and still are today with their punk-driven brand of rock n' roll with more than a dash of horns, like a collision of rockabilly and punk but without the awful aftertaste. I remember the sun coming out during the set (after it had been mostly grey prior to this) and the dust storm being kicked up near the front of the stage by what I presume were concert-goers really getting into the music. With the band wearing matching black and white, rockabilly shirts they were perhaps the best-dressed band of the day.

  John Samson of The Weakerthans: photo by Michael Ligon

In his off-time, it appears that Weakerthans vocalist John Samson has mountain-men'd himself up with his beard and outgrown locks. Mellowest set of the day for sure, and perhaps the odd-band-out, their lyrical pop-rock in contrast with the punkier roots of all the other acts on the bill. Fox Jaws' Carleigh Aikins was a special guest on one song to sing duet with Samson.

  Iggy and The Stooges: photo by Michael Ligon

Still sounding dangerous after all these years, Iggy and The Stooges (which included The Minutemen's Mike Watt on bass, plus original members guitarist James Williamson and drummer Scott Asheton) played pretty much what amounted to a greatest hits set playing classics like "Raw Power", "Fun House", "Search and Destroy", and my personal favourite "I Wanna be Your Dog" as well as plugging the most recent Iggy and The Stooges album Ready To Die (released earlier this year}, and then throwing in a great performance of a solo Iggy tune ("The Passenger") for good measure. Though well-meaning I think it was an error in judgement bringing up audience members on to the stage for a dancy party during the more askewed punk-jazz of "Fun House" but other than that this was a terrific set.

  The Replacements: photo by Michael Ligon

Having been in highschool back in the mid to late 80's I was too busy listening to the British acts like The Smiths, The Cure, and New Order perhaps too immature to have cared much about or appreciate an American band like The Replacements. It probably wasn't until the early 90's when Muchmusic and their alternative music video show The Wedge seemed to feature The Replacements' music videos for "Left Of The Dial" and "Bastards of Young" (both videos similarly filmed with a fixed shot of a speaker) as staples of the program. Sign of the times back then I guess that music videos got me to take notice of an artist. I'd still count myself as a sporadic listener of them even after that but, colour me impressed [how pun-ny of me], after witnessing their reunion set at Fort York Garrison Common a few weeks ago. Covering all aspects of their career from their early punk days to their later major label releases, it was a fantastic setlist all around. That the band had limited their reunion (at least for now) to only three cities (Toronto, Denver, Chicago) on the travelling Riot Fest roadshow is a shame for everyone else but wow, what an honour and an experience it was to see them.

Photos: Riot Fest @ Fort York Garrison Common, Toronto (August 25, 2013)

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Grove Music Festival @ Fort York Garrison Common, Toronto (August 3, 2013)

As you can see by the lateness of this post, I got lazy with posting over the last month and now here we are with summer at it's end. I took in the inaugural Grove Music Festival down at Fort York Garrison Common at the beginning of August. It's no Osheaga [which was happening the same weekend] but The Grove Music Festival was a compact and perfectly enjoyable festival in itself with a diverse lineup that hit in all the rights spots with me catching acts ranging from the slacker punk rock of Wavves, to the no-frills rap flow of Earl Sweatshirt, the working-class, Jersey rock of Gaslight Anthem, the mash-up styles of Girl Talk, the scintillating electro-pop of Hot Chip, and the exhilarating pop of Phoenix. No sense in reviewing it at this point. Just enjoy the photos:

  Wavves: photo by Michael Ligon

  Earl Sweatshirt: photo by Michael Ligon

  Gaslight Anthem: photo by Michael Ligon

  Girl Talk: photo by Michael Ligon

  Hot Chip: photo by Michael Ligon

  Phoenix: photo by Michael Ligon

Photos: The Grove Music Festival @ Fort York Garrison Common, Toronto (August 3, 2013)