Saturday, July 03, 2004

The New Deal

  • concert review: The New Deal @ Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto Jazz Festival, July 1, 2004

    keyboardist of The New Deal @ Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto Jazz Festival, July 1, 2004: photo by Mike LigonSo I did end up seeing The New Deal on Canada Day who were playing at Nathan Phillips Square as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. [Luckily they were selling tickets at the Square.] I've got my share of dance-influenced CD's in my music collection ranging from The Chemical Brothers, to drum n' bass, to turntablist[DJ Shadow], to more low-key non-dancey trip hop artists like Portishead and Massive Attack. However, I don't think I've ever been passionate about dance music. Only with recent arrivals from the likes of !!! [chk chk chk], The Rapture, and one of my current fave's controller.controller, has 'dance' music become exciting for me again. The New Deal are closer in sound to the traditional sound of dance music with influences ranging from house, hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz and rock. The live instrumentation is what sets them apart. I've generally heard good things about the band and seeing them live has always escaped me but as the drummer/spokesperson of the band said, that show was a homecoming for the band as they hadn't been playing live for 6 months, so there was an energy with the band, as well as the audience, which created a great vibe in the room.

    drummer of The New Deal @ Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto Jazz Festival, July 1, 2004: photo by Mike LigonMusically, the band encompassed many styles and incorporated some creative musical techniques. The keyboardist sat behind a series of keyboards, samplers and electronic do-dads and was able to incorporate some funky keyboard jams, some playful melodies, and other creative sounds into the fold. The bassist was good but also the most conventional of the bunch. The drummer was the guiding force of the music; depending on direction of the drumming and percussion, for example, whether it was a funky beat, a driving, more 'house' oriented beat, or it was a slow groove, the music followed suit. The drummer's human beat box was a great addition on several tracks. What was surprising, for me at least, was the lack of guitar for most of the set. Later on in the set, maybe to satisfy some of the jazz audience, the band brought on a guest jazz guitarist, who I believe they said was a friend of theirs from Montreal.bassist of The New Deal @ Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto Jazz Festival, July 1, 2004: photo by Mike Ligon He lay down some great jazz licks from which the band incorporated their own groove-jazz instrumentation. The band also had a great guest vocalist on one song [which I now come to think of it is probably the song I saw a music video for on Bravo] which was a great track musically along the lines of Zero 7. In particular, it was fun to see how the band communicated to each other from across the stage, mouthing words and using hand signals, which I assumed they were determining the direction of the music as they went along.

    I was lucky enough to get a fairly good view of the stage up front, slightly off center and it was great to see everyone up front dancing. Hey, I even managed to bust a move, however modest, for most of the evening. By my guess, it was a just over two hour set, and an exhilirating one at that. Oh Canada! [check out my photos here.]

    ps. bonus points for the amazing light show effects!

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