Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Here Comes That Feeling

concert review: El Perro Del Mar, The Submarines @ The Mod Club(Toronto, Ontario), March 5, 2007

El Perro Del Mar @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

What is it about Sweden that produces such wonderful pop music? While we all wait for the next Jens Lekman release, his friend/collaborator singer/songwriter Sarah Assbring aka El Perro Del Mar is currently making a name for herself touring North America with the melancholic pop of her self-titled album. Her and her 3 piece band came to The Mod Club in Toronto this past Monday night and enraptured the audience with their sad-eyed take on girl-group pop music.

Opening the show were Los Angeles duo The Submarines comprised of John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard. Electro-pop rhythms met melodic guitar arrangements and girl/boy vocals to produce simple yet satisfying pop songs that I could easily have imagined on pop radio as much as on any indie playlist. With additional instrumentation including melodica and xylophone, there were some interesting ideas in the mix. I couldn't help but feel that even The Mod Club's stage was too big for The Submarines; their music didn't evoke anything more than pleasantness and there wasn't much to the duo's stage presence(aside from the girlish banter of the very cute Blake Hazard). Hey, pleasantness is a start and with a little more edge I could like them even more.

Contrary to the posed, made-up image of Sarah(El Perro Del Mar) that graces her self-titled album, Sarah took to the Mod Club stage casually dressed in a baggy top and black leggings with her hair longer than I'd expected. She reminded me of a young Marianne Faithfull. Her dapper 3-piece band were dressed in dark suits and ties and were seated with their instruments(keyboards/bass/guitar) to Sarah's right as Sarah positioned herself behind her mic which was located on stage on the audience's right. The set was almost entirely devoid of any banter from Sarah so all that was left for the audience to do was wallow in the sombre, pretty, and prissteen atmosphere of the music presented to us. Sarah took to the stage and graced us solo with her first song's gentle guitar strums and her fragile voice, before the band took stage for the rest of the set. It was a sequence that she'd repeat for her encore also. A good portion of the quieter songs could have quite capably been performed solo but the band's presence was most notably felt on more 'uptempo' numbers like with the lush string sound of "God Knows". I'd only recently endeavoured to listen to her music but with the songs seeping into my consciousness, I found most of the songs during the show so instantly familiar. With the set and encore at an hour length or so, it might have seemed brief but I felt it was more than satisfying.

Photos to come. Update: Here they are.

In the press, The Seattle Weekly and The San Francisco Examiner get personal with Sarah.

MySpace: The Submarines
MySpace: El Perro Del Mar

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