Thursday, April 01, 2004

Something Bigger, Something Brighter

  • concert review: The Constantines w/ Pretty Girls Make Graves, Mahjong @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, March 31, 2004

    It's strange, at least in my opinion, that this was an all ages show. I could understand if it was Blink 182 or some other pop, punk, alterna-whatever band that the kiddies are into these days. But the bands on this bill were by far not your average 'Edge 102.1 FM' bands. So to see so many teens in attendance was on one hand actually quite surprising. On the other hand, I generally prefer 19+ shows. [I've said in a past post that years of seeing concerts at Molson Park have generally soured my opinion towards all-ages shows].

    So the first band of the night was called Mahjong. I think they're from Toronto but I could be wrong. They are an ensemble comprising of a female vocalist/bassist, and the rest of the male members of the band taking the reigns on drums, keyboards and horns. There's something quite exciting about the ensemble or collective [for example Broken Social Scene, The Heavy Blinkers]. So I was disappointed that my expectations did not pan out. Mahjong specialize in a dirge-like, soul-punk-blues hybrid of music. The vocals at times would tend towards screaming but I thought the band was more successful when the vocals were toned down and they let the music shine through. This wasn't more apparent than on their cover of George Gershwin's 'Summertime'; I think the screaming vocals were just a tad bit inappropriate. One song the band played where they were more successful was a soul-influenced song which reminded me alot of Otis Redding. They played a short set and I'm quite interested in what this band will come up with next.

    Next up was the band du jour, the next big thing, everyone's current favourite indie band, Pretty Girls Make Graves! I've been listening to a burned copy of their CD 'The New Romance' over the last several months and I was quite eager to see this band live. They were even better live than I expected! They have great energy on stage, particularly the vocalist's hand gestures and fist pumps [so punk rock!] and the bassist just rocks out and screams his background vocals. It's hard to define PGMG's soundl; it's sort of a combination of post-punk influences with american indie rock. There's quite a dynamic to their music; it can be quiet and very intricate and then brash and loud. However, overall there's a melodic undertow as well as bright vocals which really hold the songs togther. Yes, the vocals, I love her vocals! So I'm happy to say that I bought a legitimate copy of their CD 'The New Romance' at the show to replace the burned copy that I was listening to. It feels good to support a band that is most deserving!... As an aside, members of The Constantines joined in to play tambourine and maracas on one of the songs!

    And now the motherf*@kin' Constantines were up next! I decided to stray closer to the stage and at that point I decided that it would be a good idea to pull out the ear plugs. After seeing Electrelane last week and fearing I might suffer permanent hearing loss for standing too close to the speakers, I will NEVER take that chance again. I've seen The Constantines twice before and they haven't failed to impress me yet. What can I say that hasn't been said before? The Constantines will make you boogie, they will take you to emotional highs, they will make you feel like saying ''Hallelujah". The Constantines transcend any one genre; there are hints of post-punk, Neil Young, Springsteen, country, and punk. And these guys are Canadian[who'd have thought?]. Every other band[with the exception of maybe King Cobb Steelie] should bow down to the awesome experience that is The Constantines!

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