Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The National, Colin Stetson @ Kool Haus (May 21, 2009)

concert review: The National, Colin Stetson @ Kool Haus (Toronto, ONtario) - May 21, 2009

The National @ Kool Haus: photo by Michael Ligon
The National

Stepping out from their mini-hiatus The National stopped in at Kool Haus to kick off their summer tour stint, an honour for Torontonians in some ways although the polish of previous shows had somewhat been lost. Ok, that's all a matter of personal opinion but I'm sticking to it.

From the first notes of opener Colin Stetson's experimental saxophone sonic excursions I wasn't entirely confident. Granted while there was an impressiveness in his sheer performance stamina, the music was avant-garde enough that I'd imagined it'd gone over most people's heads or at least in one ear and out the other, if the chatty crowd was an indication. On closer liste, there was a structure to his instrumental concoctions, rapid-fire mantra-like at times, or with an infusion of groove/percussive elements at others. Surprisingly, he did ultimately connect with at least those who were listening, prompting a favourable response from the crowd with each song. As an opener, he wasn't the best choice, but neither was he without merit. I hope he doesn't smoke, because I couldn't imagine him having such a high-level of cardiovascular endurance if he did. If his own set wasn't enough, he also joined The National as part of their 3-member horn section.

Its understandable The National had to take a breather from touring 8 months(?) ago, having been on the road for months at the time touring their most recent album "Boxer", having only taken the time since then to play a few charity shows, especially the Dessner-brothers curated "Dark Was The Night" AIDS fundraiser indie-rock compilation. While Toronto had the pleasure of being first to see The National return to playing live after their mini hiatus, it was understandbly expected that they'd come off a little rusty. Things weren't being helped that the band had stepped up to playing Kool Haus after playing relatively more intimate(and ultimately better) shows at The Opera House in June 2007 and Phoenix Concert Theatre in October 2007 over the last several years. Even with my stage-left, front row spot, I could tell the boys were off. A few forgotten lyrics(during 'Fake Empire'), a dropped mic stand or two, and the less than perfect venue acoustics aside, while the musicianship was overall tight, it didn't have the oomph they'd displayed in past performances. Other than Matt and Scott who displayed some energy, the rest of the membership seemed too sedate although during more fierce numbers like 'Mr. November' things did pick up. I was particularly disappointed in the drumming - Bryan just wasn’t hitting the drums hard enough for my liking (for example - the louder drum parts during 'Fake Empire' didn't have the impact I'd hope for from the record). These are a few specifics although in general my slight disappointment was really only a gutteral reaction. Maybe it was just my vantage point(front row, left side of the stage) that the crowd seemed to be lacking any consistent enthusiasm(I'm curious how the crowd was at the back - anyone?). Perhaps, my slight disappointment was due to my more favourable memories of their past shows - my first time seeing them live was at The Opera House a few years ago and it was a stunning show. Good on you if it was your first time seeing them(at Kool Haus last week) and you absolutely adored it.

Photos: The National, Colin Stetson @ Kool Haus (May 21, 2009)

More reviews/photos of the show at Chromewaves, It's Not The Band I Hate..., and chartattack.

MySpace: Colin Stetson
MySpace: The National
Sorry, for the lack of updates, but I'm off to Barcelona, Spain today and'll be returning June 5. Looking forward to Primavera Sound Festival from May 28-30 and Wilco at L'Auditori on June 4. Yes, I do plan on exploring the city itself, taking photos, eating some good meals, and hopefully meet good people. Perhaps, I'll squeeze in some train travel to some nearby cities while I'm there. Ultimately, it'll be a good reboot. I do plan on hitting up internet access while I'm there and I'll try posting a few words or photos whenever I can. Otherwise, if anyone has recommendations for things I should check out while I'm there, please leave a comment. Later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Concert Announcements, Music News (May 20, 2009)

BlogTo has a Q & A with Apostle of Hustle. Check out full tour dates at their MySpace - they'll play a two-night stint at The Music Gallery on May 28-29.

Phoenix performed some acoustic numbers for The Alternate Side. They play the Phoenix Concert Theatre on June 15.

Perhaps you already have the DVD but you'll get another chance to see Wilco documentary "Ashes of American Flags" on a big screen when it screens at this year's NXNE.

Emily, Jimmy and Josh of Metric each compile their own mixtape for Drowned In Sound. Metric play Edgefest at Downsview Park on June 20 and Virgin Festival Halifax on July 4. Full dates at their MySpace.

Via Against The Grain, The New York Dolls will play what I anticipate will be a very sought-after ticket for their scheduled date at Lee's Palace on June 30. Opener is Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. Tickets $29.50 in advance.

Bowerbirds and Megafaun play Sneaky Dee's on July 14, tickets $11.50 in advance. New Zealand rock n' rollers The Datsuns will be at the Horseshoe on July 20, tickets $15 in advance.

Just a drive down the QEW, Buffalo, NY's Buffalo Place has it's summer concert schedule now up, many of which are free and take place at the city's Lafayette Square. Neko Case with opener Jason Lytle play Lafayette Square on July 23. I'll probably skip the show but only because I splurged on a ticket for her July 14 show at Massey Hall (and I got FRONT ROW!).

Julie Doiron is featured in the most recent edition of web video program Sound Check. Julie opens for City and Colour at Massey Hall on May 26, then play North American dates through June and July. She'll be at Hillside Festival in Guelph on July 25-26.

Before heading to Europe in the latter half of September, The Cult will be hitting the North American tour circuit through the summer with a stop at Massey Hall [the venue's keeping busy this year, hmmm?] on September 14. This date's part of their "Love Live" tour which'll feature the band playing their 1985 album "Love" in it's entirety (via chartattack). I don't feel quite the same way about them now(ok, I'm being a little sarcastic) like I did back in highschool when I thought they were amazing (they were my first real concert actually, circa their "Electric" album).

Chartattack reports that Kings of Leon have added several more Ontario dates for this coming September with openers Glasvegas - Sept. 17 Ottawa @ Scotiabank Place, Sept. 19 Hamilton @ Copps Coliseum, and Sept. 20 London @ John Labatt Centre.

Final Fantasy and other indie heavyweights(of various degrees) have contributed to a Judee Sill tribute compilation album entitled "Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill" to be released on September 22 through American Dust. Via Pitchfork.

With The Libertines recent surprise one-off reunion, they've now said they aren't ruling out further get-togethers, hinting at a full reunion in 2010. That's good news.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Concert Announcements, Music News (May 19, 2009)

Iron and WineOut today through Sub Pop, Iron and Wine releases a 2-disc rarities collection entitled "Around The Well. Iron and Wine performs on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight. [photo credit: Emily Wilson]

St. Vincent brings her current tour to Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on August 8 in promotion of her newest album "Actor" out now on 4AD. The Dallas Morning News spoke to hometown girl Annie Clark about her new album. Metromix also spoke with Annie.

Looking ahead to the summer, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) has it's bandshell schedule up. Check out the full schedule although I'd guess most of you'd only be interested in Tokyo Police Club and Winter Gloves who play the bandshell on Saturday August 29. As previously announced TPC also play Mississauga at Mississauga Civic Square on July 24 as well as Hillside Festival in Guelph on July 25-26. Winter Gloves play Harbourfront Centre on July 10 as well as Hillside Festival on July 25-26.

NME reports that Pete Doherty, Carl Barat, and Gary Powell of The Libertines reunited for the first time since the band split in 2004 to play at London Rhythm Factory for a tribute gig to the late Johnny Sedassy (London gig promoter who played a large part in the formation of The Libertnies). Check out the NME link for video clips also. Wow, what a terrific band they were.

Pitchfork TV captures Tindersticks live at Brooklyn, NY's Masonic Temple.

It's been a couple of years since Scotland's My Latest Novel passed through town but in the meantime their sophomore full-length "Deaths and Entrances" is out today. The Scotsman has an interview with three of the band's members, Laura McFarlane, Chris Deveney, and Gary Deveney. Peenko has the band's live session performed on BBC's Vic Galloway program on May 4, 2009 available for download.

Aurora's Ruby Coast play Lee's PalaceHorseshoe Tavern on June 20.

Taking a break from the festival circuit, Underworld will be at Kool Haus on August 11, tickets $30-$40 and went onsale this past Friday. They'll also be in Montreal at Metropolis on August 12. Full dates over at their MySpace.

You may notice on my sidebar the Paste banner that advertises the magazine's campaign for donations to keep the magazine afloat. In return for a donation, you will get access to 70+ rare & exclusive tracks. Check out the full details of the campaign here. With the recent demise of the print edition of Magnet I was actually leaning towards a subscription to Paste. I'd really like to see Paste stick around.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Concert Announcements / Music News (May 17, 2009)

This Book Is BrokenDisappointment for some leads to a windfall for many others as Broken Social Scene chooses to hold a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 11 in the wake of cancelling their Olympic Island festival shindig. As the band points out on their blog (via suckingalemon at Stillepost), the band chose to cancel the show due to the Molson Indy happening that weekend and the imminent noise pollution that would have transpired and have affected the enjoyment of those attending a show on the island. They also allude to the fact that maybe tickets weren't moving so quickly (hey, but it's so Toronto to buy tickets at the last minute). In related news, Pitchfork reports that BSS are currently recording album their fourth album at Soma Electronic Music Studio in Chicago with John McEntire (Tortoise, the Sea and Cake). Eye Weekly's Stuart Berman's BSS bio "This Book Is Broken" is also available now.

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, so perhaps most of the following is old news, but I'll consider the following more of a laundry list of sorts for myself:

In support of her new album "Attracted to Sin" out on May 19, Tori Amos will be heading out on a North American trek, stopping for a show at Massey Hall on August 10. (via Brooklyn Vegan)

Scottish mope-sters Frightened Rabbit bring their indie-folk to Horseshoe Tavern on July 22, while after a whirlwind few months of media buzz, Toronto's Rural Alberta Advantage return for a hometown show at the Horseshoe on July 30. (via Chromewaves)

Caribou frontman Dan Snaith has assembled a special group of musicians featureing Kieran Hebden (Four Tet, Fridge, Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid), Koushik (Stones Throw Records), John Schmersal (Enon, Brainiac), Kathryn Bint (One Little Plane), Ahmed Gallab (Sinkane), a four piece horn section, choir, four drummers, etc.. and have dubbed them the Caribou Vibration Ensemble. The group will only be playing two shows - The Flaming Lips-curated ATP New York Festival on September 13 and Toronto at The Opera House on September 10.

The Dead Weather (featuring most prominently Jack White of The White Stripes and Alison Mosshart of The Kills) will play the Kool Haus on July 22.

Ohbijou make up their previously cancelled date(in May) for June 25 at The Opera House to finally play their CD release show for their new album "Beacons". The new album is out in Europe on June 1 on Bella Union. A Canadian release date is still forthcoming.

Ok, I'm ten days behind on this but I'd love to get my hands on a copy of the new limited edition box set of Echo and The Bunnymen's "Ocean Rain" which NME reported on. The box set will include a live version of the album recorded in the Liverpool Arena last November, plus a DVD documentary and booklet. As well, the first 1,000 copies ordered will be signed by frontman Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant.

Scottish band Trash Can Sinatras (who'd last played shows in Toronto at Lee's Palace in September 2004 and May 2005) have a new album "In The Music" coming out in North America on July 14 through Hensley Music Group (which has ties to EMI). The album comes out in Europe through Lo-Five Records sometime in August. A special, limited, deluxe version if the album is currently available for pre-order at their website. They'll play the Fuji Festival in Japan on July 25 and they have plans to tour North American in August and Europe afterward, with touring in Japan and Australia possible later this year. Listen to their new single "People" over at their website. I'm still trying to make up my mind about the new song - it's a slice of pure-pop but it somehow doesn't match the brilliance of anything off their last album, 2004's "Weightlifting".

But the reason for the lack of posts lately is that I was in the midst of booking a trip to Barcelona which I've finally done. I depart May 26 and will return on June 5. I'll be attending the Primavera Sound Festival at Parc Del Forum from May 28 to 30 and I've also swung a ticket to see Wilco on June 4 at Barcelona's opera house L'Auditori. The rest of the time, I just plan on taking in the city, taking photos, eating good food, meeting some good people and perhaps a train trip or two to visit other nearby cities. A Eurotrip I will need to save for another time. Anyone been to Barcelona and have any good recommendations?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Concert Announcements / Music News (May 11, 2009)

Like Jim Carrey in "The Number 23", a reoccurring number is enough to drive one mad, and for me it's the number 24 as in July 24. The date itself's provided quite the conundrum in terms of concert choice. Jenn Grant plays the Sirius Stage at Harbourfront that night as part of the Canadian Voices festival. The same night in my hometown of Mississauga, Toyko Police Club are set to play a presumably free show at Mississauga Civic Square [via Saddle Creek]. Finally, returning from an opening slot on the recent Kings Of Leon tour, The Walkmen (with opener Cass McCombs) will return to headline a show at Lee's Palace [via Against The Grain]. Now, if I could only see all three shows (although technically, it may be possible to see the Jenn Grant show and then head down to Lee's Palace without missing any of The Walkmen's set.) I'm least interested in Tokyo Police Club but I don't dislike them and it'd be interesting to see the turnout for them in Mississauga (I could only imagine it'd be the biggest turnout ever for any show at Mississauga Civic Square; I've been to a couple shows there for which the turnout was relatively meagre).

For your information, more Jenn Grant east coast and Ontario dates are confirmed over at her MySpace. Also, Harbourfront Centre has updated its site with its World Routes 2009 festival highlights. As previously announced The Constantines [along with Chad VanGaalen, and joining him Julie Fader] celebrate Canada Day there while Holy Fuck and Winter Gloves will rock the Sirius Stage for Beats, Breaks, and Culture on July 10. Through a bit of web surfing, I've also turned up that dd/mm/yyyy will play Beats, Breaks, and Culture on July 10 but I'd have to assume on a side stage. Newly confirmed, in addition to Jenn Grant playing World Routes' Canadian Voices festival on July 24, Gentlemen Reg will perform the following night on July 25 getting things started on the Sirius Stage at 8 pm, warming up for Stars' Amy Millan who'll headline at 9:30 pm.

The NXNE website now has a more detailed list of artists/bands confirmed for this year's festival. The buzziest artists had already been announced several weeks ago (Black Lips, No Age, Health, Matt and Kim, King Khan & BBQ Show, Fake Blood, and These Are Powers). There's a bunch of unknown entities that I hope I'll have fun in discovering something good. The big news, well relatively speaking, is that beloved Toronto band Change of Heart are set to reunite and seminal American garage band The Sonics will be playing the festival. Some web surfing's also revealed that confirmed NXNE participant Japanther are set to play a free set at Yonge Dundas Square on June 20, presumably as part of the Indie Music Marketplace which takes place at Yonge Dundas Square during the festival every year.

I don't believe it's an official NXNE show (since the Gladstone doesn't appear on the official NXNE venue list), but the show at the Gladstone on June 17 is at least during NXNE - the lineup that night'll feature Black Dice, Awesome Color, Slim Twig, and New Feelings. Tickets $12 in advance at Rotate This and Soundscapes or $15 at the door. Via Stille Post.

No upcoming Great Lake Swimmers Toronto date (let's not be too greedy - they just performed at Queen Elizabeth Theatre recently), but they have lined up other dates in Ontario and vicinity, including a stint at the Hillside Festival in Guelph.

Video: Great Lake Swimmers - Palmistry (Legion Sessions)

The Hillside Festival taking place at Guelph Lake Island July 24-26 has yet to release a more complete artist/band lineup but some web-surfing's also turned up that, in addition to GLS, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Julie Doiron will also be taking part.

Having recently released their most recent album "As Seen Through Windows" through Arts & Crafts, Bell Orchestre will tour select European and Canadian cities over the next several months, returning to Toronto for Luminato to play the Harbourfront Centre Sirius Stage on June 13.

Neko Case makes an even more triumpant return to Toronto (having recently played a two-night stint at Trinity St. Paul's), this time for what will likely/definitely be a glorious show at Massey Hall on July 14. Tickets, CA $29.50 - CA $40.50, onsale on May 15 at 12 pm EST through Ticketmaster.ca or through the Massey Hall box office.

So far Pearl Jam have only announced two headlining North American shows and Toronto is one of them (Chicago is the other). They'll play the Molson Ampitheatre on August 21 - tickets are $39.50 for lawns and $79.50 for all other seating. Tickets went onsale last Friday.

The Music Gallery Court Yard in Toronto will be presenting their “6 concerts, 1 sky” series over the course of two weekends(Fri-SUN) starting June 19-21, then concluding June 26-28. Full details over at Stille Post - not that I'm really familiar with any of the artists participating but I do suspect the music'll be more on the experimental side of things.

Coming up this weekend on May 24 for Wavelength at Sneaky Dee's, it's under the banner "Remember Toronto II: Bands Reunited" and'll feature reunited Toronto indie acts including Grasshopper, The Electric Shoes, Kat Rocket, and Tigerbomb. I believe The Electric Shoes [who eventually morphed into Prom Night Suicide Pack and now who's lead singer Steve Shoe fronts Proof of Ghosts] was the band that original Diableros drummer Phoebe Lee used to drum for. I count Kat Rocket as one of the earliest/best Toronto acts which got me into indie music in the mid-nineties. Via Stille Post.

The lineup for Virgin Festival Nova Scotia drops tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM Atlantic Time (10:00 AM EST). Maritimes, pray to God your Virgin Festival lineup doesn't suck.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Concert Announcements / Music News (May 8, 2009)

I hope the Ontario version of Virgin Festival is better than Montreal. That lineup stinks so bad.

If you're a Massey Hall FriendsFirst member then you'll have access to the presale for Sonic Youth's June 30 date at the venue. Presale takes place today at 12 PM EST (ok, I know I'm late posting this) and the password is ETERNAL.

The Horseshoe Tavern website lists King Khan and BBQ and seminal Toronto band Change of Heart taking over the venue from June 18-20 for NXNE. I'm not entirely certain about exact dates for each band. Change of Heart - I'd sort of casually latched onto them for their last couple of albums("Tummysuckle" & "Steelteeth") but never really listened to them much but they had some great singles.

Speaking of King Khan, him and his Shrines will be performing on MTV live this Monday May 11. Othen upcoming MTV Live performances including rapper Classified on May 12, Toronto soul-punks Lioness on May 13, and Toronto roots-pop outfit Great Bloomers on May 14. For free tickets call 1-888-491-6888 or e-mail liveaudience@mtv.ca.

Toronto band making waves now, Rock Plaza Central are going on tour in support of their new album "At The Moment Of Our Most Needing, Or If Only They Could Turn Around, They Would Know They Weren't Alone" coming out through Paper Bag Records on May 26. Press material describes this album as living more up to the "Rock" part of their band name. Here are some of their upcoming local & Canadian tour dates(check Paper Bag Records for full dates):

May 25 Toronto, ON @ The Tranzac
May 26 Toronto, ON @ Sonic Boom (Instore)
May 27 Toronto, ON @ George Weston Recital Hall
May 27 Toronto, ON @ The Dakota Tavern w/ The Skydiggers
May 28 London, ON @ Call The Office
May 29 Ottawa, ON @ Zaphod’s
May 30 Montreal, QC @ Green Room
June 13 Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace w/Suckers
July 18 Vancouver, BC @ Vancouver Folk Festival
July 19 Vancouver, BC @ Vancouver Folk Festival
July 24 Guelph, ON @ Hillside Fest
July 25 Guelph, ON @ Hillside Fest

Sub Pop Americana act Vetiver will be playing an instore at Sonic Boom on May 15. It is free but the hosts are encouraging everyone to bring a non-perishable food item for the Food Bank. Vetiver play the Horseshoe later that night. Via Stille Post.

Chromewaves points out that the lineup has been announced for this year's Wolfe Island Musicfest taking place August 8 on Wolfe Island in the Thousand Islands in Kingston, Ontario. It's a quaint and not entirely undeserving lineup including Holy Fuck, Busdriver, Apostle Of Hustle, Attack In Black, Woodhands, The D’Urbervilles, Ohbijou, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Julie Fader. If it were in my own bacykyard so to speak, I'd be there in a second although I'd don't think the lineup's enough motivation for me to want to drive to Kingston, scenic drive notwithstanding.

The more that Chromewaves pimps Patrick Wolf the more I'm intrigued. I was mildly entertained by Patrick Wolf's single 'The Magic Position'. His new single 'Vulture' (off his newest album "The Bachelor") is obviously influenced by 80's alternative dance music. 'The Magic Position' is more the direction that'd influence me to explore his catalogue more. But more than a few people must be excited that Mr. Wolf's coming to town on June 17 for a show at The Mod Club, a bill which'll include The Living Things, The Plasticines, and Jaguar Love. Via Chromewaves.

Oh and today is my birthday. And I have a cold which I've had since yesterday, for which I needed to take a day off work and it's still not gone. Grrr.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Franz Ferdinand, Born Ruffians @ Kool Haus (May 4, 2009)

concert review: Franz Ferdinand, Born Ruffians @ Kool Haus (Toronto, Ontario) - May 4, 2009

Franz Ferdinand @ Kool Haus: photo by Michael Ligon

As they did back in December of last year at Franz Ferdinand's highly sought after club gig at Lee's Palace, Toronto's Born Ruffians opened the show at Kool Haus this past Monday night. My only other time seeing Born Ruffians live was on the second stage at Virgin Festival in 2006 who I'd remember being decent although perhaps the sizable stage being a little inappropriate for the band who were a trio at the time. This time a four-piece with new drummer Ahmed Gallab, it was an energetic set of their chirpy pop-rock, echoing bits of Talking Heads and perhaps a little Vampire Weekend. But if Vampire Weekend somewhat wear out their welcome over time(and this is definitely a matter of personal opinion), Born Ruffians are infectiously fun. Their 'hit' 'Hummingbird' garnered the loudest response from fans in the audience who were in the know, but with the band (and bassist Mitch DeRosier in particular) encouraging bouts of audience handclaps during the set, it seems they converted more than a few new fans.

It was at the same venue back in 2004 that I'd last seen Franz Ferdinand live at the advent of their self-titled debut. I'd for the most part ignored their second album "You Could Have It So Much Better" for no particular reason and have yet to listen to their most recent album "Tonight:Franz Ferdinand" but here I was , at an all-ages show mind you, with high expectations of a grand rock n' roll show. And that's exactly what we got. With a video backdrop of various images and video (the most interesting being video of the band themselves being projected on the screen behind them), they showcased their infectious brand of danceable, sometimes incendiary rock n' roll. While lead vocalist Alex Kapranos and band are one of the most dapper-looking bands today, they created an intensely exciting vibe on stage (something that's perhaps a little muted on record). Mr. Kapranos in particular pulled out some guitar poses and combined with his alternately suave and emphatic vocals, he's one of the most exciting frontmans today. He also displayed a good sense of humour when someone from the audience handed him a wishlist of songs they'd play during the set and he read an excerpt of the list which included a request to play the first album in its entirety. There was something quite badass (even though they're quite wholesome looking lads) when guitarist/keyboardist Nicholas McCarthy hobbled out on stage in crutches, then later on Alex had to apply a bag of ice to his sore hand in between songs. Whatever were the specific reasons for their maladies I never found out, but I appreciated that they honoured the whole "the show must go on" sentiment. The audience was deeply involved in the set, whether it be singing, clapping or dancing, and Alex during one song led us into a thoroughly fun call and response singalong. The sentiment of the evening was perhaps best illustrated during the encore with their song 'This Fire', the chorus which goes "This fire is out of control, I'm going to burn this city, Burn this city". They definitely killed it that night.

Photos: Franz Ferdinand, Born Ruffians @ Kool Haus (May 4, 2009)

More favourable reviews of the show over at MuchMusic and Impressionable Youth (who also has a few video clips from the show). Eye Weekly were a little more critical about the show.

MySpace: Born Ruffians
MySpace: Franz Ferdinand

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Concert Announcements / Music News (May 5, 2009)

It's a Massey Hall sort of day!

In the WTF category, Sonic Youth returns finally for a show in Toronto on June 30 but it's at Massey Hall. It's the day of my bro's birthday so I won't know if I'll be making it to this show, but I'd like to see Sonic Youth Live and what better venue than Massey Hall. Tickets $36.50 - $43.50 - $ 48.50, onsal Saturday May 9 at 1 PM EST. Via ATG.

John Vanderslice, in promotion of his new album "Romanian Names" out May 19, will be going on tour which stops in Toronto for a show at the Horseshoe on July 10. Openers are Cotton Jones. He'll also be playing the Ottawa Bluesfest on July 10-11. Via Brooklyn Vegan.

Deer Tick and Dawes are at the Horseshoe on July 17. Via Ground Control Touring.

Torche and Harvey Milk play Lee's Palace on July 23, tickets $13.50 in advance onsale Thursday May 7 at 10 am EST. Via ATG.

Finally confirmed, Fleet Foxes will be playing Massey Hall with openers Dungen on August 4. Tickets $32.50 - $35.50 - $38.50, onsale Friday May 8 at 3 PM EST. However, if you'd like a jump on tickets, a presale is taking place Wednesday May at 10 am through Massey Hall, and the password is SUNGIANT. Via ATG.

Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes will play Massey Hall on August 28t in support of his new country album "Secret, Profane and Sugarcane" which'll be released on June 2nd.

Maximo Park will play Toronto at Lee's Palace later this year on September 18 in support of their new album "Quicken The Heart" out May 12. Via Chromewaves.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Dears, Lioness @ The Mod Club (April 30, 2009)

concert review: The Dears, Lioness @ The Mod Club (Toronto, Ontario) - April 30, 2009

The Dears @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

I had to do a double-take last Thursday after work when I read the scrolling news on CP24 on the monitors at the College Subway platform that The Dears tour bus had been stolen earlier that day in Montreal. It all sounds like a sly publicity stunt - stolen tour bus on the eve of a tour. At the time, without knowing all the details, it'd all sounded surreal and just knowing that the show at The Mod Club was going to go on was exciting enough. It was hard at the time not to feel like The Dears were soldiering on despite the theft. I only found out the details of the incident after the show - the tour bus was rented and they were fortunate enough to have not loaded their instruments and equipment on before the bus was stolen. OK, so that explained why Murray et al. were so non-chalant about the whole incident. Perhaps, Murray's joke about imagining the culprit making a getaway in the bus should have been a giveaway that their loss wasn't so terrible; I couldn't imagine most indie bands emotionally/practically bouncing back so quickly had they'd had all their instruments and equipment stolen.

An early time slot is not at all befitting to Toronto electro dance-rock trio Lioness but here they were. With the rhythm section of Jeff Scheven and Ronnie Morris rising from the ashes of Toronto death-disco outfit controller.controller and fiery vocalist Vanessa Fischer of soul-punk's No Dynamics, their combined pedigree does reflect Lioness' resultant output. In some ways, Lioness with their jagged bass lines and disco-rock rhythms, aren't far off from controller.controller but whereas controller.controller vocalist Nirmala Basnayake always sang in a sort of sing-speak, Lioness' Vanessa Fischer has a robustness about it, augmented further by more fleshed out melodies. I was a big fan of controller.controller at the time, and I think that Lioness more than meet up to their high standards, but a pre-9pm (heck, a pre-11pm) time slot is perhaps not the best way to enjoy them. There were pockets of dancing, head-bobbing but not the full-on dance-party that they're probably capable of. One thing's for certain, Dears fan's aren't probably known for dancing.

The Dears have suffered through a few woes over the last several years, first record label troubles then the departure of 5/7's of the band leaving only Murray and Natalia. Fortunately, The Dears have bounced back from such low-points, having found a new label with Dangerbird and also recruiting a capable new backing band. Since "Gang Of Losers", I hadn't really though much about The Dears. Even as their newest album "Missiles" had been released, I hadn't really given it much of a listen and I'd realized that it was based solely on my irrational attachment to The Dears' old membership. Could The Dears' newly-recruited backing band duplicate the alternately anthemic and warmer qualities of The Dears' past albums? Undoubtedly, Murray and Natalia are the heart of the band and if either of them weren't there, it just wouldn't be the same. However, as the live set at The Mod Club last Thursday displayed, the new membership might be hired guns and they are unfamiliar faces but they did a more than admirable job performing both the old and new material.

The show opened quite dramatically with Murray singing("Missiles" track 'Saviour') from within the crowd, unbeknownst to most people until the spotlight shone upon him. From there, Murray jumped up onto the stage as the audience roared with approval. The set focussed on "Missiles" with several tracks each from "Gang Of Losers" and "No Cities Left" also contributed. As the new bandmates settle in, especially as they embark(well, just embarked) on a grueling next few months of touring, I really do have confidence that the new band'll get the job done. I was most impressed with new guitarist Jason Kent's confident guitar work. But as with heart of any band, I was mostly excited to see Murray and Natalia, especially on their duet of '22:The Death Of The Romance'. I also quite enjoyed Natalia's lead vocals on 'Crisis 1 & 2' but most of all because I wasn't used to seeing her sing lead. The older material seemed to spark a higher percentage of spontaneous and or prompted singalongs although perhaps natural given the most recent albums' more introspective tone. Alongside The Dears' older albums, "Missiles" is quite obviously the dark horse. Their Smiths-ian, anthemic qualities may have fallen by the wayside but The Dears continue to provoke and intrigue, even if they're quieter.

Lioness will be performing on MTV Live on May 13 and then will perform at this year's Pride Toronto at the Alexander Parkette Stage on June 28. The Dears will be touring Canada and the U.S. over the next few months.

Photos: The Dears @ The Mod Club (April 30, 2009)

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