Monday, July 10, 2006

Dancing With Daggers

concert review: 1)Magneta Lane @ Celebrate Toronto Street Festival, 2)Jamie Lidell, Konono No. 1 @ Harbourfront Centre - CIBC Stage, 3)Shad, Cadence Weapon @ Harbourfront Centre - Brigantine Room, July 8, 2006

The last time I saw Magneta Lane was way back in June 2004 when they played The Comfort Zone in Toronto as part of Dan Burke's anti-NXNE showcase. Since them the girls have gone on to sign with Paper Bag Records, tour the world, and make some new fans along the way. I'd have gone to see them for free in Mississauga as part of The Beating Heart Festival but unfortunately I already had plans to see Wilco that night. Fortunately, I made it out to their free set at Yonge and Eglinton in Toronto as part the Celebrate Toronto Street Festival. The girls pulled in a decent crowd for their set of thrashy garage pop tunes, led by the suave vocals of Lexi Valentine. It was a satisfying set, nothing less, nothing more. [Magneta Lane photos]

Next, I headed down to Harbourfront in time to catch the start of Jamie Lidell's set, part of the Beats, Breaks, and Culture Festival. He started off his set himself performing some repetitive instrumental beat-driven excursions. Subsequent tunes added a nice disco element. However, everything really gelled when he added a vocal element to the music, especially when guest Chilly Gonzales came out to contribute some nice jazzy/r'n'b keyboards. A lot of people have compared Jamie's vocals to Jamiroquai and I guess that does ring true. Jamie does have this geeky look about him, but he does a possesses a self-confidence about himself that manages to offset any misconceptions one might have of his talent. He was a real showman, strolling up to the front of the stage on one song where he handed the mic to a fella in the audience who knew and sang the lyrics to the song. Although, Jamie's music might not be something I'd listen to all the time, it was an enjoyable set.

Headliners of the night, African group Konono No. 1 came out to a warm reception. Featuring a drummer, congo drummer, three electric kalimba players a guitarist and a dancer/vocalist, Konono No. 1 performed a intriguing set of music. The rhythmic component of the music had people dancing from the get-go. There were really any 'songs' to speak of but rather the music seemed to be broken up into different sections. To some ears, it seemed like they played the same song for an hour and a half, but really there were variances in the music, from the addition of vocal arrangements, to whistles, to slight harmonic changes and variances in kalimba arrangements. What remained constant however was the percussion. It's amazing how long the members of the band continuously played - really, there were few breaks in the music. When the band finished their set, it was at that point that I heard some of the loudest and enthusiastic applause and cheering I've ever heard to get a band back for an encore. A very impressive set overall. [Jamie Lidell & Konono No. 1 photos]

Finally, ending off the evening were a couple of hip hop acts in the Brigantine Room including London, ON's Shad and Edmonton, AB's Cadence Weapon. There was a line up to get into the Brigantine Room and fortunately I was able to get in. It took a little while to get things started, but finally Shad plus his drummer, bass guitarist and co-MC/beatboxer hit the stage. Shad's DJ had already been spinning for us while we had been waiting. Shad showed us his impressive rap skills that in my narrow familiarity of the rap genre, reminded me of Pharcyde. His music has nothing to do with bling and everything thing to do with hip-hop. His drummer and bass guitarist provided some decent instrumental accompaniement to Shad's lyrical flow, while his co-MC added to the fold nicely, especially with his beatboxing. Shad displayed his multi-talented skills when he strapped on a guitar to play along while he rapped. The ultimate showcase for his talent was definitely the freestyle session as a videographer on stage, who'd been filming up, handed Shad several objects in succession as Shad worked in the name of the object into his freestyle rap. I have to thank cleverLazy for the recommendation to see this talented gentleman[also check out her blog post on Shad].

I almost thought that no other hip hop act could top Shad that night and it turned out that Cadence Weapon's set wouldn't do it that night. Don't get me wrong, all the hype about Cadence Weapon, the artist, is valid. Of what I heard of Cadence Weapon that night, he has quite a versatile sound. His music is sort of a meld of hip-hop meets indie rock aesthetics. With only a DJ laying down the beats, Cadence Weapon showed a dynamite lyrical flow. Other times, he'd sing in a punky vocal style. Unfortunately, a series of technical difficulties [speaker / monitor / mic problems] throughout Cadence Weapon's set ruined any momentum he might have gained. Better luck next time. [Shad & Cadence Weapon photos]

Here are some of my photos highlights:

Magneta Lane @ Celebrate Toronto Street Festival: photo by Mike Ligon

Jamie Lidell @ Harbourfront: photo by Mike Ligon

Konono No. l @ Harbourfront: photo by Mike Ligon

Shad @ Harbourfront: photo by Mike Ligon

Cadence Weapon @ Harbourfront: photo by Mike Ligon

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