Friday, August 15, 2008

A Certain Feeling

concert review: Bodies of Water, Port O'Brien, The Ghost Is Dancing @ El Mocambo (Toronto, Ontario), August 8, 2008

Meredith Metcalf of Bodies of Water at El Mocambo: photo by Michael LigonPerhaps Toronto's own Bruce Peninsula who performed last Friday night at Whippersnapper Gallery stole many an indie fan from attending the show at the El Mocambo that night, or at least I like to think so considering the relatively sparse turnout for the triple bill of The Ghost Is Dancing, Port O'Brien and Bodies of Water.

Toronto's The Ghost Is Dancing travels the now well-worn path towards a collective indiepop racket utilizing group singing, handclaps, and simple yet effective rock musicianship plus a little trombone. In an indie world that's already full of indiepop collectives (eg. The Hidden Cameras, Architecture In Helsinki,etc...), The Ghost Is Dancing are perhaps only as essential as you want them to be. They do however perform energetically and competently and do live up to the last part of their name(ie. dancing) which both band (well at least some of them) and the audience (at least those near the stage) were doing. It's a shame though that there weren't more people as I could have imagined the band creating quite the frenzy.

Oakland, California's Port O'Brien were a little harder to peg musically in my opinion. In all simplicity they are a rock band, though their sound hints at influences like country, folk and modern indie rock sensibilities. I was reminded of Neil Young and Crazy Horse on one instrumental jam they performed. Other times, they gave off an alt-country vibe especially with the prominent use of banjo on many songs which was performed by lone female member/cutie Cambria Goodwin who physically reminded me a lot of actress Mila Kunis. In terms of indie rock, there was a casual flair to their performance (with the band even inviting members of the audience to choose a percussive instrument from their tickle trunk of instruments and come onstage for their last song), and lead vocalist Joshua Banhart has the sort of imperfect though full-of-character vocals that lends itself to the looseness of the band's sound. And when they want to, like on song "Close The Lid", they deliver fully-charged melodic indie rock like the best of them.

The last time I saw Los Angeles' Bodies of Water live was in March 2008 at Lee's Palace (when they opened for Sons and Daughters) and it's difficult to expand on what I wrote about them back then. What I did appreciate about them back then that I still appreciate now was the dramatic and somewhat schizophrenic nature of their sound of what were in essence pop songs but most of all it was the enigmatic quality of female vocalist Meredith Metcalf who was and still is as expressive in her jubilant and sometimes dramatic vocal style as when she gazed over the audience. I couldn't help think that the band were a little disappointed in the small turnout (it was a relatively short set, and there was no encore) but you know you really have to appreciate a band that sells their CD's for ten bucks (Canadian dollars at that) a pop at the show. I picked up their debut "Ears Will Pop And Eyes Will Blink" and their most recent album "A Certain Feeling". I haven't listened yet to the new one but their debut is one of the more invigorating and unique efforts I have heard in the last few years. Perhaps, the next time they roll through town, more people will have caught on to them.

Photos: Bodies of Water, Port O'Brien, The Ghost Is Dancing at El Mocambo (August 8, 2008)

MySpace: The Ghost Is Dancing
MySpace: Port O'Brien
MySpace: Bodies of Water

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