Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Slew, Kid Koala, The Heavy @ Harbourfront Centre, Sirius Stage, Toronto (July 9, 2010)

Update[July 18/2010, 1: 36 pm]: Sorry it took so long for me to post the review. Hey, but I can't stay inside too long when the sun is shining outside.

This year's edition of Beats, Breaks, and Culture festival at Harbourfront Centre went down two Friday nights ago featuring The Slew, a project featuring Kid Koala and described as "6 turntables meets the ex-Wolfmother Rhythm Section", and UK neo-soul-rock hybrid outfit The Heavy.

With daylight setting and about a half full crowd, The Heavy did their best to get the crowd moving, the band's frontman Kelvin Swaby working out his soulful vocals against the band's guitar-laden, soul-rock, sometimes horn-embellished, grooves. "We've got some standers" Swaby exclaimed about half-way into their set, and then later on saying "thank u standers". The band played selections from their two full-lengths, the first half of the set apparently devoted to their more recent album 2009's The House That Dirt Built, then going back to their debut, 2007's Great Vengeance and Furious Fire which was greeted with excitement by some devoted fans in the audience. The band ended their set with Swaby prompting the audience a few times "Do you like me now?", each time the audience roaring with validation, the band then seguing obviously into their single "How You Like Me Now?". With a sustained effort for an encore, the band came back to play a few songs containing lyrics such as "all you got to do is set me free" and "all I know, she got to go, I ain't takin' her shit no more". Had this set been under the blanket of a starry night, I'd have suspected they'd have slayed the audience but otherwise it was a mixed audience of devotees and curious onlookers. Personally, I liked it though I kept on thinking if it were a female vocalist, I'd have liked it more. Maybe I just wanting the next Amy Winehouse album to come out already.

It was by no means empty for The Heavy, but there was plenty of elbow room. That soon changed as the place gradually filled up for headliners, The Slew. First of all, the recognizable face of The Slew, Kid Koala, entertained the crowd with a solo turntablist set of his own material which I always find so intriguing, especially when he played his cut-up version of his mom's favourite song, "Moon River". He kept it brief, so as to not detract from The Slew's upcoming set. Although I had a photo pass for the show, I only got to shoot for three song's for Kid Koala's set, and not for The Slew which doesn't make sense at all since I considered Kid Koala's set and The Slew's set as two separate sets, not one. Otherwise watching from the sidelines, I watched The Slew's set which I'd have to classify in most simplistic terms as turntablist rock, a relatively foregone conclusion of the result of merging the rhythm section of Wolfmother with the turntablist sensibilities of Kid Koala. In actuality, there were dual turntablist duties going on with DJ P-Love also working on the wheels-of-steel. The band released their debut album 100%, described as "a turntablists' take on a bluesy psych rock record" as a free download in September 2009, which is now available on vinyl and CD from label Puget Sound. Although less intriguing overall than Kid Koala's solo material, it was a Friday night, people wanted a party, and that's what they got with The Slew's dj-rock set.

Photos: The Slew, Kid Koala @ Harbourfront Centre, Sirius Stage, Toronto (July 9, 2010)
MySpace: The Heavy
MySpace: Kid Koala
MySpace: The Slew

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