Friday, June 30, 2006

From England With Love

V Fest

Deets on the upcoming V Fest at Toronto Islands Park on the weekend of September 9 and 10 are encapsulated over at chartattack. So far the lineup looks decent - Massive Attack, The Flaming Lips, Phoenix, The Hidden Cameras, The Dears, Zero 7, etc... - and there are still more bands TBA. C'mon, for just over $100 CDN you get two days worth of music goodness and what better way to celebrate the end of summer? I don't understand what all the hoopla about this festival being expensive is about. I mean, this festival's almost fucking Woodstock for me. When will Toronto ever get another music festival like this? If I don't go I'll be severely disappointed.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Everything's Just Wonderful

The Daily Growl has some live Lily Allen tracks from BBC Radio 1 available for your downloading pleasure[via Rock Snob].

Scenestars has the music video for Lily Allen's "Smile".

According to this news update, Ben Lee is heading out on his first cross Canada tour this summer. Check out ALL the tour dates. I've listed below the dates that are in these neck of the woods[he's playing the Labour Day Beachfest show at Sunnyside Park!]:

Aug 17, 2006 | Toronto, ON, Canada - The Mod Club
Aug 18, 2006 | Hamilton, ON, Canada - The Casbah
Aug 19, 2006 | Waterloo, ON, Canada - Starlight Lounge
Aug 20, 2006 | London, ON, Canada - Call The Office
Sep 04, 2006 | Toronto, ON, Canada - Mix 99 Beachfest(Sunnyside Park)

According to the most recent Pernice Records e-mail update, the new Pernice Records album will be called "Live a Little" and is set for release this September. The lineup includes Peyton Pinkerton, James Walbourne, Patrick Berkery and Bob Pernice as well as Kara Pernice Coyne and Anne Pinkerton making vocal appearances. Mike Deming did the string and horn arrangements and the new record is supposedly a return to the orchestrated sound of the earlier records.

Turquoise Days has available for download a recent BBC Radio session from Camera Obscura they performed for Dermot O'Leary[via Torr]. Camera Obscura will be in Toronto for what is likely to be a sold out show at Horseshoe Tavern on July 4th. Soundscapes and Rotate This are both sold out - I bought the second last ticket of Rotate This' allotment a few days ago.

BTW, thanks to Turquoise Days for pointing me towards The Perfumed Garden which has a wealth of mostly indie/indiepop radio sessions available for download.

From Blown Speakers eulogizes the demise of Sleater Kinney.

The anticipation of V Fest in Toronto at Toronto Islands Park on September 9-10 is killing me, but we should know the details tomorrow. Apparently, Mr. Richard Branson is rumoured to be involved. And yes, our excitement cannot be contained...about V Fest that is, not Mr. Branson.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Good For You's Good For Me

concert review: The Walkmen w/ Richard Swift, Rockwell @ Phoenix Concert Theatre(Toronto, Ontario), June 27, 2006

The Walkmen @ Phoenix: photo by Mike LigonTwo out of three ain't bad. Not only a Meatloaf lyric, but accurately describing yesterday's show at the Phoenix. Having more than one opener at a show can make things painfully long especially when they aren't particulary entertaining. Thankfully, it was only first opener Rockwell who didn't do anything for me. And, no I'm not talking about 80's one-hit-wonder Rockwell, although in retrospect I almost wish I was. The Rockwell I'm talking about is a dude from New York City who sort of reminded of that chubby guy who plays guitar for The Hives. Rockwell was an oddity to say the least. He performed these lo-fi, guitar-solo filled ditties backed with prerecorded drum beats and backing tracks and other times sung in a enthusiastic lounge-punk style. It was his in-between song banter or dare-I-say act which was truly peculiar. He had this odd comedic style, with a reliance on certain props, that somehow felt out of place during a music show. At one point he went to the floor where the audience was, with a whip in hand, encouraged a volunteer to come to the centre of the floor with a cigarette and hold it in her mouth and allow him to strike it from her mouth with the whip. Of course, he actually never did it. It was all a big joke and only mildly funny at that. Later on he ended his set by actually playing a song by another artist(Dr. Dog) on his iPod while he sort of casually lip-synched the words. Part of me wanted to enjoy his schtick, but I'd have to go with my gut and say that I'd didn't particularly enjoy it.

It didn't take long for next act, Secretly Canadian's Richard Swift and his bandmates to set up and begin their set. They performed an interesting brand of pop music which had hints of psychedelic, baroque and ragtime elements. Musically, it sounded like the less cabaret-sounding side of Rufus Wainwright and was far less indie-rock sounding than I'd expected. For one, they could actually play their instruments. I particularly liked the keyboardist's spot-on arrangements, and he wasn't even side-tracked when his keyboard wouldn't work, instead signalling a roadie/sound-guy in the middle of one song to help him roll out a small piano, set up the mic and then continue to play. Overall, it was a decent set and a good warm-up to The Walkmen.

The Walkmen are instrinsically New York. Not New York like The Strokes but perhaps their artier cousins. The urgency of a tune like "The Rat" hinted at some of their punk influences but with a dollop of soul that I don't hear in much of indie-rock or rock for that matter. The Walkmen's artier side shone through on tracks like the sixties, almost girl-group-ish "Another One Goes By" and the mariachi-influenced lead off track "Louisiana" off their newest album "A Hundred Miles Off". Admittedly, I'm not that familiar with their albums, but that really didn't stop me one bit from enjoying their thrilling set. While there wasn't any stage banter to speak of and the band steam-rolled through their set, the musical element was more than enough to compensate for those things that were lacking. There were a lot of nice percussive elements, piano arrangements, strummy guitar playing, and of course lead singer Hamilton Leithauser's distinctive vocals. Even before reading comments over at Stille Post about the show, I'd already thought that Hamilton, during the show, sounded quite a bit like an emotive Bob Dylan. When Hamilton would sort of lean sideways and passionately sing into his mic, it was sublime. The night ended with a couple of encores and a lot of smiling faces.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Summer In The City

With this past weekend being the first weekend since the official start of summer, things were really hopping in Toronto. If you didn't go out and do something, well I'm really disappointed in you. Yes, really.

I was fortunate enough to check out the Toronto Roots Festival in the Distillery District on Saturday night with my friend and his wife, and a girl friend of theirs. I can't believe that was my first time in the Distillery District. I love the brick roads and brick buildings that encompass the area. Next time there, I'll have to bring my camera. We caught a round-robin set on the main stage featuring some local artists including Angie Nussey, Bob Snider & Layah Jane who all played some low-key folky-acoustic sets. I've seen Bob Snider in the past and he's a helluva funny lyricist. I was a little disappointed to miss Elliott Brood's set who were scheduled next but my companions and I ended up walking around the Distillery District to check out the buildings. [Check out a few pics over at Old Town Toronto 1793 of Elliot Brood and Angie Nussey, Bob Snider & Layah Jane.] There's a way-cool store which sells high-end home theatre gear. We also checked out Soma which sells good-quality chocolate and gelato. The group of us ended up on Queen St later on for a great sushi dinner. It wasn't quite as busy as I thought down at the Distillery District as I thought it would have been but then there were tonnes of other things happening this past weekend.

This past Friday night, The Streets and Lady Sovereign performed at the Phoenix and according to comments over at Stille Post it was a great show. chartattack was somewhat more critical. Jam! Showbiz also reviews the show[via Rock Snob]. Blacking Out The Friction checked out Lady Sovereign's own headlining set later that evening at State Theatre and says that although it was brief, Ms. Sovereign brought the goods.

Also this past Friday night, J Mascis and Broken Social Scene performed a special one-off show for charity at The Mod Club, billing themselves as Broken Mascis Scene. Chromewaves was there and has a review and photos. Watch some decent video clips of "Get Me" and "Feel The Pain" from the show. Thank God for YouTube.

Of course, there was the Olympic Island festival on Saturday featuring Broken Social Scene, Bloc Party, Feist, J Mascis and Raising The Fawn. Some photos/comments over at Rock // Paper // Pixels, suckingalemon, ribbon_in_hair, and Stille Post. chartattack has a review of the show. Jam! Showbiz was also there and reviews the show favourably[via Rock Snob].

Across the water, Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus and Peaches invaded Molson Ampitheatre for what apparently was an awesome show. Gaboo was there and has some good things to say. chartattack calls it a 'near perfect concert.' I will say though that when my brother and I saw Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus on the first day of the 3 day Sasquatch festival at The Gorge in Washington State at the end of May, I'd say that those two bands put on the best big rock show sets of the whole festival - big sound, big light show, great atmosphere - everything a big rock show should have. That's coming from someone who isn't a big NIN or Bauhaus fan to begin with.

Mike Boon reviews one of the two Tragically Hip/The Sadies/Weakerthans shows which happened over the weekend at Old Fort York in Toronto.

And who can forget Pride Toronto? suckingalemon and Chromewaves watched the parade and have some photos. I'd hope to make it out to the Alterna Queer stage at Yonge and Alexander Sts. on Saturday night to catch Kill Rock Stars band Erase Errata, but as I mentioned above, I went to The Distillery District instead.

Anyone make it out on Saturday night to Tokyo Police Club's free set at 102.1 the edge's store front studio? How about De La Soul at Harbourfront on Friday night as part of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival? Anyone check out Barrie, On's Doris Day's show at Horseshoe Tavern on Saturday night? I'm hoping to catch Doris Day live again sometime in the future, although in the meantime I'm totally digging some new audio streams over at their MySpace site including an untitled track as well as the harmonica-drenched "Carmonica" which I've been hoping the band would post since being bowled over by it when I heard them perform it at this year's Over The Top Fest[my review] and more recently during NXNE[my review].

I hope every weekend this summer turns out as good as this one.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bubble Boy

Wayne Coyne in a giant bubble @ Wireless Festival 2006[Hyde Park, London]

Although there were PLENTY of things happening over the weekend in Toronto(and which I'll comment on tomorrow), for the moment I'd like to direct you to watch this video of The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne in his giant bubble as he moves over the crowd during the band's performance over the weekend at this year's Wireless Festival in the UK. It's an awesome video if only for the fact that the person filming the video gets the ultimate shot as Wayne, in his bubble, moves right over the filmer, not once but twice. This only makes me more excited for The Flaming Lips when they come to Toronto on September 9th for Day One of V Fest at Toronto Islands Park.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Gang of Losers

The Dears @ GlastonburyThe Dears' upcoming new CD "Gang Of Losers"[coming August 2006] has leaked and is only a Technorati/Blog Search away. I think I'll wait for the official release though before I listen to the whole thing.

However, you can listen to The Dears'(actually only Natalia, Valerie, Patrick, and Murray) acoustic live session on BBC 6 Music's Gideon Coe program from this morning. Listen here(session is about 1 hr and 40 min into the program; program only archived for a week.) They performed acoustic renditions of new songs "Ticket To Imortality" and "There Goes My Outfit". I'd ever be so grateful if someone could rip these to mp3, please.

Listen to the curiously-titled new song "Whites Only Party" off of "Gang Of Losers", over at the band's MySpace site. It's one of their more Smiths/Morrissey-esque songs I've heard.

Trace My Face has a few songs from The Dears' "Gang Of Losers" available for download. [via Torr]

misha4music has a The Dears' 2004 KCRW session available for download.

And of course, just a reminder that The Dears will be in Toronto for a free show at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto on Canada Day(July 1st).[photo from http://../]
Billboard reports that Will Oldham's next Bonnie "Prince" Billy release is on the sched for release on September 19th through Drag City. Prior to it's release, Pitchfork reports that Will will hit the road for an 11-date tour of free performances at US record stores, including of course, the most 'American' of record stores, Rotate This in Toronto on August 19th. Next closest in proximity for Southern Ontarioans is August 20th in Buffalo, NY at New World Record.

Pitchfork reports on a couple of upcoming Beach Boys reissues including June 27th and the release of the "Good Vibrations" CD single, but more excitingly, August 29th when "Pet Sounds" is reissued in double vinyl and CD/DVD formats. The CD/DVD reissue is the one to look forward to because the DVD will feature promo films for "Pet Sounds", "Sloop John B", and "Good Vibrations", in addition to a photo gallery synched to audio of "God Only Knows", and three documentary films.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

At Worst I Feel Bad For Awhile, But Then I Just Smile

Lily Allen performing 'Smile' on Top Of The Pops on June 11, 2006Billboard reports that the 42 year old UK television program Top Of The Pops will end at the end of July 2006 due to plunging ratings. I've only had the chance to watch it when I downloaded a torrent of a video clip from the show or on occasion when Rogers was having a free preview of BBC on digital cable, and one thing I'd admire about the show was it's willingness to broadcast live performances of artists from a variety of different musical styles, from The Arcade Fire[their performance of "Rebellion(Lies)" was amazing], to Super Furry Animals, to whatever mainstream pop act was popular at the moment.

One of my favourite new musical artists at the moment, Lily Allen was on Top Of The Pops on June 11, 2006 and she performed her infectious single "Smile". Watch it here. [via Just Keep Bloggin']

Pitchfork(as well as Chromewaves) reports that Portishead updated its MySpace site recently indicating that progress is coming along on their third album and that they've met with label people who've had a positive response to their new songs. However I do take issue with the following quote from theIR MySpace site: "its nice to think us old gits have a few tunes in us without sounding like coffee table zero 7 - moby - chill out shit!!". Umm, they go away for god knows how long and they take a potshot at my beloved Zero 7? The new Portishead album better be amazing.

Eye Weekly interviews J Mascis and explores the Dinosaur Jr/Broken Social Scene connection. J Mascis with BSS as backing band will be playing a benefit show at The Mod Club on June 23rd and then J Mascis will be playing an early afternoon solo set the following day at Olympic Island where BSS will be headlining later on that evening.

Eye Weekly also has a sitdown with Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen in advance of the band's show in Toronto at The Phoenix on June 27th.

The Flaming Lips website has confirmed that they'll indeed be in Toronto at Toronto Islands Park on September 9th!!!!!![via Matt in the comments from two posts ago]

Asthmatic Kitty indicates that Castanets will be at Lee's Palace on August 3rd, which I'm assuming is in addition to previously announced acts for that date, The Black Heart Procession and Danielson.

Pollstar says Human Television will be at Sneaky Dee's on July 24th.

Finally Rotate This is indicating Sunset Rubdown at Lee's Palace on July 27th[19+, tickets $10], Australia's The Living End at The Mod Club on August 1st[all ages, tickets $18.50], and 90's alt-pop/rock obscurities Smoking Popes at Lee's Palace on August 16th[19+, tickets $12].

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Strait Is The Gate

Ok, I made the unfortunate remark of saying in my review of The Hylozoists' set at Horseshoe Tavern on Saturday June 17, 2006 that I unfortunately didn't feel their music that night, although that was partly due to the music not translating well in that venue. I saw The Hylozoists perform a brief intimate instore at Soundscapes in Toronto yesterday and I'm glad to report that it was so much better. There's something about seeing them up close, especially the intricate xylophone and vibraphone arrangements, which made me appreciate the music so much more. Performing songs off their just-released-yesterday new CD "La Fin Du Monde" it was a riveting set that drew passerbys into the store and drew a enthusiastic response from the crowd. Listen to tracks at their MySpace site and go buy the new album too.

-> photos from the instore

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

V Fest?

It's come to my attention through their MySpace site that Zero 7 will be in Toronto on September 10th for a show listed being at Islands Park V Fest. Firstly, I'd assume that by Islands Park, they mean Toronto Island Park. But, what is V Fest you might ask? It's unclear at the moment but a Yahoo! search I did turned up a post over at DCist which points to the possibility of it being an American version of UK's V Festival[which this year takes place from August 19-20 at several UK locales and features a bevy of top acts including Radiohead, Morrissey and Beck]. DCist's source of the information is from The Upstate Life who through his own sleuthing's found out that the Baltimore edition of V Fest(to apparently take place at Pimlico race track on September 23rd) will feature Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I've checked The Raconteurs tour info around the 'net and can find neither a Baltimore[Pimlico] date nor a Toronto date. As The Upstate Life informs, Pollstar lists the September 23rd Pimlico Clap Your Hands Say Yeah date, although I can't find anywhere a listing for a Toronto date. The Gnarls Barkley info was taken from Pitchfork who also reported originally that Gnarls Barkley will be in Toronto at Toronto Islands Park on September 9th. Remember the discussion that took place on Stille Post about this? Several people on Stille Post have pointed towards the possibility of a music festival happening the weekend of September 9-10, even throwing around names like The Flaming Lips being in town[which is itself a definite possibility since The Flaming Lips will have just played Montreal's Osheaga Festival the Labour Day weekend of September 2-3]. For now things remain unconfirmed.

So for now this is the info that I have:

September 09 - Gnarls Barkley @ Toronto Islands Park (via Pitchfork)
September 10 - Zero 7 @ Islands Park V Fest (via Zero 7's MySpace site)
Update: Sept 09 - The Flaming Lips @ Toronto Islands Park (thanks to MattR in the comments, and yes the band's website lists this date!!!!)

Oh sorry for the all the rumour mongering, but I've been itching for a decent music festival to come to Toronto ever since the cancellation of Lollapalooza in 2004(which had been scheduled to come to Toronto for 2 days that year) as well as the cancellation of the Toronto Blues Festival also in 2004. The Olympic Island shows have been great and all but Toronto needs something HUGE.

Monday, June 19, 2006

If Only Your Heart Was A Major Sixth

concert review: Hylozoists w/ Major Grange, The Fembots(duo) @ Horseshoe Tavern(Toronto, Ontario), June 17, 2006

Hylozoists @ Horseshoe Tavern: photo by Mike LigonAs much as I appreciate the music of Hylozoists and The Fembots(duo) and instrumental music in general, in a live setting, the lack of vocals really begs for something to compensate for it. Unfortunately, that's how I felt during the above bands' show at the Horseshoe Tavern this past Saturday. Of course, sitting at a table with my friend and his cousin away from the stage doesn't necessarily help make things easier to absorb. Some kooky stage banter, interesting visual effects, even a change of venue[eg. for example, The Music Gallery] would have all helped in my opinion to translate the experience better. Simply put, I didn't feel the music.

The Fembots Dave MacKinnon Brian Poirier, performing only as a duo and billed as Mucho Cuidado, were first up for the evening. Dressed in matching white shirts and pants, they performed a subdued set that matched acoustic country/folk instrumentation with tape loops, found sounds, and audio snippets. It's a drastically different version than the The Fembots full-band configuration which I've seen before and enjoy quite a bit more. There was a pretty meagre sized crowd on hand for the set, with maybe only 2 people on the floor near the front. I was somewhat impatient during their set, and I don't remember them playing anything off The Fembots' "The City"(well any of the songs which I'd have hoped for) which was a shame. The few songs which you could really 'hear' Dave MacKinnon's rich vocals were standouts though.

The next band up were the unknown-to-me Major Grange. Their music seemed to touch on pop, maybe country-rock influences, filtered through a 70's FM classic rock sensibility. Vocals alternated between two gentleman, one person's vocals in an attractive mid-range and the taller gent's vocals in a higher whinier range. I was quite intrigued at with their set's initial pop/easy-rock direction featuring their supple melodies, attractive vocals, and solid instrumentation. At first, they reminded me of Pernice Brothers. Had the set remained in this zone, I would have been happier, but the set progressed towards a 70's FM classic rock sound(complete with blues-y guitar) that I was less-enthused about. I do make an exception with one song which I enjoyed which the gent with the higher vocal range sung on and which sounded like 70's-classic-rock-influenced Sloan. How's that for contradictions?

Lastly, the multi-member Hylozoists in matching white garb hit the stage. By this time, the Horseshoe had filled in respectably. With vibraphone, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, drums, violin and other instruments contributing to the group's lush orch-pop sound, the music reminded of a cross between Calexico and an instrumental The Flaming Lips. They sounded quite cinematic at times and the music had a tendency to build momentum towards satisfying conclusions. There were even a few songs which featured vocals which was a welcome change. Still, I found the dank Horseshoe Tavern an unusual choice of venue and would have preferred the more acoustically-suited and better vibe of say, The Music Gallery instead. It's hard to enjoy the subtle sophistication of Hylozoists' sound when there's beer bottles clanking in the background. Things did start to sound sort of same-y over time and my companions and I left at the start of their encore set. I enjoyed their set but I wasn't bowled over by any stretch. Perhaps their music is better suited to listening to through headphones: a soundtrack to that surreal dream in my mind. (Hylozoists will be doing an instore at Soundscapes tomorrow. Anyone know what time? Update: Their MySpace site says the instore is at 6 pm.)
In other news, it's great to see The Hidden Cameras strike up a relationship with Arts & Crafts for the US release of The Cameras' new album "Awoo" which'll come out in the US on September 19th. The Hidden Cameras will be opening for Broken Social Scene at Prospect Park In New York City on July 6th. This looks like the start of a beautiful friendship.

In concert news, if it bothers you that Yo La Tengo haven't scheduled any Toronto dates for the near future, I do see that they will be playing just down the QEW in Buffalo, NY at Shea's Performing Arts Center on July 11th[via Matador Records]. Update: According to the band's website, this performance is a live performance of their album "The Sounds of Science" and will accompany the films of Jean Painlevé.

Hamilton, ON's A Northern Chorus will be at the Horseshoe Tavern on July 14th.

Having escaped my radar for a bit, I just found out that Carolyn Mark and Her New Best Friends! Hootenanny will be at Harbourfront on July 15th as part of the Roots:Remix festival.

AOL Music met up with Grandaddy recently and they have the interview and some acoustic performances available for your dowloading[podcast] and listening pleasure.

Metric performed "Monster Hospital" yesterday during Muchmusic's 2006 MMVA's. Go here[and follow the links] to watch the video or just click here[to watch it in Windows Media Player]. Looks like Emily had a lot of 'fun' yesterday - fun meaning alcohol.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

You Think I'm Declasse

concert review: Eux Autres w/ Bad Flirt, Ratiscule, Terror Lake @ Rancho Relaxo(Toronto, Ontario), June 16, 2006

I always thought Toronto's Rancho Relaxo was a tiny venue. With it's small stage to your immediate right just as you enter the venue, the narrow dimensions of the place made most shows I've been to there feel cramped. This wasn't the case yesterday night which featured a 4 band lineup headlined by Portland, Oregon duo Eux Autres. The rest of the lineup was filled out by Torontonians, Terror Lake and Ratiscule, and Montreal's Bad Flirt. I enjoyed the music to varying degrees, but it was kind of a downer that more people hadn't turned out. At one point I realized that it seemed like a good chunk of the audience were the bands themselves or friends of the band. Oh well.

Of all the openers, it was the first band Terror Lake I enjoyed the most musically. With a female drummer on drums and vocals, and the band's male guitarist and bass guitarist, they performed a thrashy brand of indie rock that reminded me of Sleater Kinney. With a nod to the "French" theme of the night, they also performed a neat thrashy, surfy, French pop tune. While the tunes seemed up my alley, it was sort of hard to get excited about them given the rest of the meagre-sized audience being quite subdued. But the band will be playing some local shows over the next month or so including June 17th at The Cameron House, July 1st at The Bagel, then again at The Bagel on July 21st. They'll also be in Montreal at Main Hall on July 8th. [Listen: Terror Lake @ MySpace]

Next up on the sched was Toronto-based French-pop/punk vocal performance duo Ratiscule. I'd heard their name rattled around a lot in the local indie press and they were totally not what I'd expected. They did not have a band but instead were accompanied musically by prerecorded backing tracks ranging from Ramones-y melodic blasts, to loungey French pop and playful electro-pop. They have recorded material(with one album to their name and a second one on the way), but I get the impression that you wouldn't fully understand them unless you see them live. The two dolled up ladies of Ratiscule(Kristi and Lisa Bardot) wore matching polka-dot dresses, yellow leggings and heeled shoes and they preceded to entertain us with their goofy co-ordinated dance steps and hand gestures and even hula hoop for us. On top of that was their humorous stage banter spoken in their quite effective Parisian accents and a total immersion of themselves in these personalities. Personally, I'm not quite convinced musically(if only because of personal tastes) but their live show was an entertaining curiousity. [Listen: Ratiscule @ MySpace]

Maybe I'm getting old but when the second to last band goes on after midnight it annoys me just a tad. Well, unless, it's part of NXNE or something, then I make an exception. At this point, I was just getting anxious to see Eux Autres' set. Preceding them was Montreal's Bad Flirt. The 5-piece(two females and three males) performed a familiar- sounding brand of female-vocals fronted melodic indie rock. At times, they veered towards a more dance-punk direction. While the melodies weren't always as infectious as they could be there were moments to be enjoyed especially in their guitarist's simple but effective guitar riffs and their drummer's fluid drumming. And their keyboardist made a decent effort to talk to the audience between songs. [Listen: Bad Flirt @ MySpace]

At long last(and yes it really felt long, even though it had only been about three hours since the start of the first band's set), Heather and Nicholas Larimer of Eux Autres started their set. With Heather on drums and Nicholas on guitar, their set was a stripped down affair of garage-y, French-pop inspired indiepop that was a blast to hear live finally. Nicholas played some decent, sort of surfy but mostly strummy guitar arrangements and Heather matched it with simple but effective drums. It's thankful that they did banter with the audience between songs because during songs they had a tendency to close their eyes and not look at the audience. Having seen them sitting at a table near the back of the club with a group of people for the entire night, it didn't come across that they were particularly extroverted individuals. I'm not saying they seemed shy, but more just laid back and content to sit back and observe. Their banter was pretty funny at times, with Heather often making quips; she told a joke that went like this: 'What kind of bees make the best mike? A. Boo-bies!'. An audience member yelled out something about her showing hers, which Heather replied that if he showed his dick, then she'll show her boobs. (Rimshot please!) Best songs of the night were "Other Girls" and "Ecoutiez Bien" but they also added some covers to the set including a nod to us Canadians with Bryan Adams' "Summer Of '69" as well a cover of a Sebadoh song. [Listen: Eux Autres @ MySpace]

For more Eux Autres, check out articles over at and NOW. And keep up with Eux Autres while they are on tour through their blog. Their debut CD "Hell Is Eux Autres" was recently released through Montreal label Grenadine Records.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

NXNE - 10 June 2006

concert review: NXNE @ various venues(Toronto, Ontario), June 10, 2006

Buzzcocks @ Phoenix: photo by Mike LigonBuzzcocks(7:30 pm @ Phoenix Concert Theatre): My last night of NXNE started with a show I wholely expected to have to buy a ticket for but surprisingly got into with my NXNE wristband!UK punk legends the Buzzcocks played an early show at the Phoenix to a seemingly capacity crowd. There was no opening act, but the usual prompt NXNE set start times didn't apply to this show. What had been listed as a 7 pm start time ended up start about half an hour after that. And combined with me and a good chunk of the audience getting there before 7 pm, it meant a torturously long wait. So when the Buzzcocks finally came on to the stage, everything melted away as they steamrolled through a selection of fan favourites. All the usuals you'd expect but of course it was "What Do I Get", "I Don't Mind" and "Ever Fallen In Love" which got the most response from the audience. Guitarist Steven Diggle was definitely the most animated of the bunch, pulling out the rock star poses with his guitar. As I was standing near the front on the periphery of the 'pit', I did notice things did get a little hairy with people slam dancing as you'd expect at a punk show. Fortunately, I came through unscathed. The Buzzcocks are older and greyer, but man do they still possess the same musical fury of their younger days.

Listen: Buzzcocks @ MySpace

The Buffali(9 pm @ The Bagel): At long last I made it out to a show at Toronto's infamous The Bagel. I can see why it's had it's run-ins with the fire marshall and overcapacity crowds. It's tiny. It looks like a diner and it has a ramshackle stage at the back of the place. I got to The Bagel for the 9 pm NXNE slot featuring Madison, Wisconsin's indiepop/folk male/female duo The Buffali. Their music ran the gamut from acoustic blues, to indiepop, to country and folk, and was highlighted by a lyrical playfulness which was truly delightful. Instrumentation was minimal, usually only accompanying themselves with acoustic guitar and or keyboards. It was only a meagre sized crowd on hand(their couldn't have been more than 10 people there at the start of the band's set) but they took it in stride and performed enthusiastically nonetheless. They were confident onstage with charming stage banter to boot. Musically, I thought they had some decent melodies and vocals, although I was less enthused with the bluesy/folky elements. That's just my personal tastes speaking. Best song of the night was a song which featured a Barenaked Ladies "One Week"-like lyrical flow which made me felt totally giddy.

Listen: The Buffali @ MySpace

Kinnie Starr @ Horseshoe: photo by Mike LigonKinnie Starr(10 pm @ Horseshoe Tavern): I rushed over to the Horseshoe Tavern to find a tightly packed crowd on hand for Kinnie Starr's set. Fortunately, I weasel my way through the crowd and somehow, made it pretty close to the stage. Her music's a delectable blend of rock, pop, and hip hop influences, steered by the tight lyrical flow of her rapping and singing. Backed by a drummer and bass guitarist, and augmented at times with some electronic samples/beats, with Kinnie herself strapping on a guitar herself at times, her music had a warm soulful organic sound. You could't help but find yourself grooving along naturally. And I'll state for the record: Kinnie is such a beautiful woman.

Listen: Kinnie Starr @ MySpace

Doris Day @ Holy Joe's: photo by Mike LigonDoris Day(11 pm @ Holy Joe's): Having been impressed by Barrie, ON's Doris Day at this year's recent Over The Top Fest, I was excited to see them during NXNE at Holy Joe's. With their pint-sized frontwoman flexing her vocal pipes and dancing around vigorously, and the band performing their passionate brand of indie-rock, I still felt there was a level of restraint compared to their show at The Drake Hotel during the Over The Top Fest. For example, while their performance of the harmonica-drenched "Karmonica"(especially the eager vocals of their frontwoman) totally bowled me over when they performed it at The Drake Hotel during the Over The Top Fest, this time around it was merely just good. While the band has one foot squarely in that sort of fashionable vibrant indie rock sound("Quarantine Girl") there's a side of them that's refreshingly un-indie sounding(if that makes any sense) especially on some slower numbers("My Hands, My Plans") where their frontwoman's soulful vocals have a chance to shine.

Listen: Doris Day @ MySpace

Hexes and Ohs @ Ciao Edie Roxx: photo by Mike LigonHexes and Ohs(12 pm @ Ciao Edie Roxx): I headed up to Little Italy to the more-posh-than-I'm-used-to venue, Ciao Edie Roxx, where Montreal trio Hexes and Ohs would be playing. Having not heard them before but only reading good things about them, I was anticipating a more dominant electro-pop sound than what actually resulted. That's actually a good thing, at least in my books. The band's music was as much based in conventional indie-rock as it was in electro-pop and when the electronic influences crept up, it never overshadowed the songs. I couldn't quite see the drummer from where I was standing but with the young bespectacled guitarist and bass guitarist up front, they were an adorable looking pair dressed in their matching red t-shirts, one saying 'Hexes' and the other 'Ohs'. I love bands that take the time to wear matching stage clothes.

Listen: Hexes and Ohs @ MySpace

Museum Pieces @ Holy Joe's: photo by Mike LigonMuseum Pieces(1 am @ Holy Joe's):Last set of the night for me was Halifax duo Museum Pieces who I decided to check out upon the recommendation of NOW 's recent 4 star review of the band's 1995 album "Philadelphia". With lead singer Tyler Messick on vocals and guitar and Andy March on drums, they had a surprisingly full sound for only two people, due to Andy's full-on drumming style, Tyler's rich guitar arrangements and Tyler's idiosyncratic vocal style. It's an indie rock sound that has quite a bit more substance than your usual indie-rock duo fare. Melodies were quite strong overall and better yet were of the not-so-obvious variety. Their 1995 album "Philadephia" features a larger band lineup than the current duo incarnation, and according to their MySpace site, the duo are currently writing the next album as a strictly drum and guitar duet. Can't wait.

Listen: Museum Pieces @ MySpace

Three nights of NXNE shows over and done. I don't know about anyone else, but this year's NXNE was great.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

NXNE - 09 June 2006

concert review: NXNE @ various venues(Toronto, Ontario), June 9, 2006

The D'Urbervilles @ The Silver Dollar: photo by Mike LigonThe D'Urbervilles(9 pm @ The Silver Dollar): Last minute additions, Guelph's The D'Urbervilles played the opening slot of the Friday night show at The Silver Dollar, replacing From Fiction who were originally suppose to perform. Word on the street is that From Fiction have broken up, but that's another story. Their hyper-kinetic, slightly new-wavey indie rock was immediately likable with it's strummy guitars, vibrant drumming and energetic vocals. The lanky, bespectacled lead vocalist, decked out in his tight-fitting vintage Toronto Blue Jays t-shirt and jeans, had a geeky charm as he jumped down from the stage to the floor during a few songs and danced spastically. Because of the early time slot perhaps, the crowd wasn't quite in the dancing mood, but I did overheard several people crowd say they enjoyed The D'Urbervilles a lot. I liked them too. Catch them next when they open for Immaculate Machine at the Horseshoe Tavern tomorrow night.

Listen: The D'Urbervilles @ New Music Canada

Clouds Forming Crowns' Tim Tobias @ Lee's Palace: photo by Mike LigonClouds Forming Crowns(10 pm @ Lee's Palace): I made my way up to Lee's Palace on the Spadina street car to check out Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio's Clouds Forming Crowns. Given that the band includes former Guided By Voices members Tim and Todd Tobias, I originally thought that alone would draw more than a few indie rock curiosity seekers. I'll admit that's primarily I chose to go, hoping that Clouds Forming Crowns might resemble the pop confection of Guided By Voices. With Tim on lead vocals and guitar, he led the band(which included a couple of temporary replacements for a couple of members who couldn't make it up for the show) through a series of same-sounding rockers. Rather than the 3-minute pop gems of Guided By Voices, Clouds Forming Crowns leaned towards a rockier sound, complete with Tim's guitar soloing, that reminded slightly of Dinosaur Jr. but unfortunately without the memorable melodies. I had moments of enjoyment(a guitar lick here, a melody there) at times but ultimately I was disappointed. I guess I'll have to wait for Mr. Pollard to come to Toronto before I can relive Guided By Voices' glory days.

Listen: Clouds Forming Crowns @ MySpace

Dietzche V. & The Abominable Snowman(11 pm @ El Mocambo): My original plan was to catch Chicago IL's The 1900s[MySpace] at Crowbar on King St., but when I got to the venue I was disappointed to find out they didn't make it to Toronto because of troubles at the border. Oh well. Plan B and I headed up to El Mocambo to see what was left of Edmonton, AB's Dietzche V. & The Abominable Snowman. They were protypical indie-rock dressers, but had I not read their NXNE bio, I would have not guessed they performed techno, electro, house music. I caught some vocoder on one song and then some tasty beats on another. The curly-haired lead vocalist busted some funky moves that was slightly funny but still fun to watch. Their music was that sort of club music that I thought I hated but seeing them perform live elevated the music(or at least my enjoyability of it) to an entirely different level. The capacity crowd at hand definitely enjoyed it, especially the dancing contingent up front.

Listen: Dietzche V. & The Abominable Snowman @ New Music Canada

Novillero @ El Mocambo: photo by Mike LigonNovillero(12 pm @ El Mocambo): Mint Records' Novillero were the band I was most excited to see that night. From what I'd heard of Novillero in the past, their music was a more fully fleshed out, pop-ified extension of the mod-rock jams Novillero frontman Rod Slaughter kicked out with his previous outfit, Duotang. I'd always thought Rod had one of the finest vocals in Canadian indie rock, and he displayed his vocals in fine fashion that night. Rod's soulful vocals took lead on many songs, either with Rod on guitar or on keyboards but also featured Grant Johnson behind keyboards to sing lead on a few idiosyncratic pop tunes. Horn arrangements were slightly missed, especially on the deliriously infectious "The Hypothesist", but otherwise Novillero made up for it with an energetically performed set. Especially enjoyable was to see member Jack Jonasson, the band's muse of sorts, as he energtically performed keyboards and percussion, sung background vox furiously and danced spastically to the music. Icing on the cake for the band that night was that they were present with the $10,000 award for being named Doritos top 'buzz' band of the festival. Congratulations.

Listen: Novillero @ MySpace

The Coast @ El Mocambo: photo by Mike LigonThe Coast(1 am @ El Mocambo): Ending the night in fine fashion were Toronto's The Coast. With the only illumination on stage a string of white Christmas lights wrapped around the lead vocalist's mic stand, it set the mood for the emotive, melancholic Brit-pop which followed. Their MySpace site mentions The Verve as an influence but I also hear echoes of Doves and perhaps a littleColdplay. Attractive vocals, delectable melodies, and the band's spacious guitar sound were the highlights of the band's music. It's music that's really destined to be performed in larger venues. If they were British, I'd think North American Anglo-philes would already be eating them up.

Listen: The Coast @ MySpace

Monday, June 12, 2006

NXNE - 08 June 2006

concert review: NXNE @ various venues(Toronto, Ontario), Thursday June 8, 2006

The Duke Spirit @ Reverb[NXNE]: photo by Mike LigonThe Duke Spirit(9 pm @ Reverb): UK's The Duke Spirit's appearance at this year's NXNE came as quite the pleasant surprise as they were one of the few bands I knew and liked amidst the pool of obscurity that comprised this year's NXNE lineup. It would also make up for me missing their previous show in Toronto at Lee's Palace from a month or two back. It's too bad they got stuck with an early slot but otherwise they did their darndest to warm up the early meagre-sized crowd. It seemed obvious that some people in the audience were already fans, and the rest seemed to take a liking to them quickly. Black-spandexed, blonde lead vocalist Liela Moss was quite fetching to look at and proved herself a worthy frontperson with her swaggery vocals and confident stage persona. Their fuzzed out guitars and primal drum sound was matched nicely with just the right amount of melody to keep things interesting. Fans of PJ Harvey and Yeah Yeah Yeahs would enjoy them but in general The Duke Spirit are appealing because they aren't copping the indie/post-punk sounds that are currently in fashion these days. Sincerity in rock music is hard to come by nowadays and I fully expect greater things from this hard-working group in the future.

Listen: The Duke Spirit @ MySpace

City Field @ The Silver Dollar[NXNE}: photo by Mike LigonCity Field(10 pm @ The Silver Dollar): I walked down Queen St to Spadina then took the streetcar up Spadina to The Silver Dollar in time for Toronto's City Field. I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of their sole "Authentic City" EP release and while their set was musically enjoyable there was a certain lack of stage presence. City Field's set definitely lacked the energy of Matt Murphy's previous bands Super Friendz and The Flashing Lights but part of that I can attribute to City Field's slightly mellower pop sound. I think also the fact that City Field haven't played live much makes me think they're still working out their stage legs. Guesting on bass guitar was Camouflage Nights/ex-Thrush Hermit/fellow Haligonian Rob Benvie. A couple of attempts at stage banter were lost amongst the chattery crowd but falling back on their music, there was still much to admire. "Authentic City's" songs(especially the 3-way alternating lead vocals of "Pretenders") were terrific but it was new songs "Make That Shape Lace Face"(with it's killer guitar intro) and "Linda's Hair" that clinched it for me. Especially, "Linda's Hair" - when it came to Matt's sublimely melodic vocal part, it sent shivers down my spine.

Listen: City Field @ MySpace
Listen: City Field @ New Music Canada

The Two Koreas @ The Silver Dollar[NXNE]: photo by Mike LigonThe Two Koreas(11 pm @ The Silver Dollar): I stuck around for The Two Koreas' set since I hadn't seen them perform live for a while. Though they've been quite obvious in the past with their Fall-influenced sound, down to lead vocalist Stuart Berman's deadpan vocals, I'm thankful that their sound's moved forward to encompass more creative guitar arrangements and even something close to approaching pop melodies. Still, it is without a doubt, the band's urgent drum and bass guitar foundation which propels the music and keeps Mr. Berman in perpetual dancing mode, even jumping down from the stage to the floor to get his groove on.

Listen: The Two Koreas @ MySpace

Sleeping Kings Of Iona(12 am @ Richmond Lounge): Since I had work the next day, I decided to check out one last show for the night and call it an evening. Next up on my agenda were Buffalo, NY's Sleeping Kings Of Iona. Consisting of three young gents and one young lady, their music was completely unknown to me before I checked out their audio sample on the NXNE site(eventually leading me to check out their band website and their MySpace page). Their sound for the most part consists of shimmering pop melodies dutifully played on guitar and drums but augmented with electronic sounds by way of keyboards and electronic beats. Keeping things interesting from song to song were alternating lead vocal duties. Surprisingly, it was the male vocals that I enjoyed more than the sole female vocalist because at least some of the songs featuring lead male vocals featured an electro-pop sound which veered towards a delectable Junior Boys-ish quality. Also, there was something slightly unconvincing about the petite, and way-cute female vocalist singing during one song, the lyric "I swear I will kill you". Otherwise she fared better on other tracks. Encompassing a variety of tempos and moods, their music went from Junior Boys-sounding electro-pop, to female-vocals based trip-hop, washes of keyboards ambience and ended on an emotive post-rock curiosity. Lovely. It makes me even consider driving down to Buffalo to catch 'em live if they don't come back to these parts anytime soon. Update: They will be back in Toronto at Savoy on July 28th according to their MySpace site.

Listen: Sleeping Kings Of Iona @ MySpace

Sunday, June 11, 2006

NXNE 2006

mementos from my NXNE 2006 experience

Over the last 3 nights and this afternoon, I saw fifteen bands in total(none of which were crap) and two excellent music documentaries - all with my $28 NXNE wristband. Opinions are still filtering in but I'd say that this year's NXNE was great. The key to making the most out of NXNE(or any music festival for that matter) is researching the artists/bands beforehand and picking out the ones that seem interesting. I will state for the record that MySpace is a music fan's best friend. Also, nothing beats doing NXNE by TTC(using a MetroPass or day pass, of course); the mad rush of dashing from venue to venue by TTC streetcar is totally exhilirating. Stayed tune over the next few days for the details and photos.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Going Coastal

Around this time last week, I just arrived back from Vancouver, and it's taken me a week to get back to reality. I spent 8 days on the west coast in British Columbia and Washington State from May 23rd to 31st and being in such a beautiful part of the continent was a nice change from the urban(sometimes drab) contours of Toronto and Mississauga. Don't get me wrong, Mississauga's a nice place to live, and Toronto is world-class, but Vancouver's my new favourite city. However, no trip to Vancouver is complete without venturing outside of the city to experience British Columbia's green and mountainous landscape in all it's glory.

English Bay in Vancouver: photo by Mike LigonArriving in to Vancouver on May 23rd, my brother picked me up and we made our way to his apartment the hippie-yuppie section of Vancouver's Kitsilano area. The first day was mostly spent immersing myself into the Kitsilano lifestyle. My brother's apartment is in a great location, in one direction down the street from Vanier Park(which overlooks the beautiful English Bay) and in the opposite direction a 5 minute walk away from one 4th Avenue which is one of Kitsilano's main strips. Although not visually similar, Kitsilano's vibe is similar to the Beaches area in Toronto, with all it's little shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars and cafes. The venerable Zulu Records is located on 4th avenue. It's quite a clean and well-stocked store, carrying vinyl, CD's, DVD's, and magazines. Too bad the prices are freakin' expensive. My brother and I spent a good couple of hours strolling through Vanier Park, and one thing I realized was how fit everyone was, what with people running, walking, and biking along the path. And this was early evening on a Tuesday night. I can only imagine how busy they place is on the weekend. According to my brother, Vancouver is a healthy city not just because it'd mild climate motivates people to get outdoors, but it's also boasts a variety of healthy eating options and walking(at least from Kitsilano, over the Burrard St bridge into downtown Vancouver) is a big thing.

Whistler: photo by Mike LigonThe next day, my brother and I made good with our plans, and went to Whistler for some skiing and snowboarding. In May no less! The scenery along the highway on our way to Whistler was breath-taking. I noticed alot of construction along the way and my brother told me that it's all about widening the roads on the way up to Whistler in preparation for the Winter Olympics coming to Vancouver in 2010. Because we hadn't had a chance to get our morning coffee yet, we stopped in the little town of Squamish. We ended up buying coffee at Starbucks. Initially, I'd found that quite novel, a Starbucks in Squamish of all places. I'd only realized during the rest of my trip on the west coast that Starbucks is fucking everywhere. And I mean everywhere. On the other hand, there was sorely a lack of Tim Horton's in Vancouver. Being my first time at Whistler was an awesome experience: the gondola ride of all gondola rides, the mild temperatures at the base of the mountain gradually turned into a winter wonderland higher up the mountain. I'm an alright skier at best so I was glad that there were a choice of ski runs available to accommodate my skill level. In other words, I wasn't forced to crawl down and or tackle any Black Diamond runs to get back down the mountain. Excellent day and Whistler demolishes any other experience I've had skiing in Ontario.

Sunset over English Bay(Vancouver)The next day was strictly a tourist-y day, walking up from Kitsilano over the Burrard St. bridge into downtown Vancouver, checking out the main strips like Burrard St, Robson St and Granville. Alot of the music venues seem to be on Granville, and I got to see where the Orpheum Theatre, Commodore Ballrom, The Vogue Theare and Plaza Club among others were located. Yes, Starbucks is everywhere, and Tim Horton's is nowhere. Downtown Vancouver's is amidst alot development with condos going up along the Bay and the city having quite a modern feel. It is a little disappointing that I don't feel any sense of Vancouver's history the same way I do in Toronto. What I can applaud Vancouver for is their commitment to bicyclists and the system of bike lanes on roadways they've implemented. The Burrard St. Bridge bike lane/pedestrian sidewalk system is a perfect example of how pedestrians and bicyclists can co-exist on a single sidewalk in perfect harmony. My brother and I ended up catching The Sam Roberts Band instore at the downtown HMV and after a little more walking along the downtown street we headed back over the bridge into Kitsilano. While walking over the bridge, we watched the glowing sun in the distance sink down behind the mountains as it reflected on the water in the bay. Beautiful.

The Gorge in Washington State, USA: photo by Mike LigonFriday morning, having packed and prepared out gear the night before, my brother and I began our drive towards the Sasquatch Festival at The Gorge in Washington State which was at least 4.5 hours away from Vancouver. At the border the customs official confiscated the hotdogs in our cool due to a US ban on Canadian beef; at least we didn't bring steaks. We drove past Seattle and along the way I tuned into KEXP for some good music. We stop outside Seattle in Issiquah for lunch at Jack In The Box then continued our way onto The Gorge with more nice scenery along the way, until we finally reach our destination where the weather's overcast. It seemed like many people had already made it there, and the camp grounds were already bustling with tents going up or already up. We were directed to a spot in the grounds to set up camp and it was about 4 pm. We took a few minutes to just absorb the atmosphere and the scenery. My brother and I see this Rasta guy with an electric guitar and an mini amp strapped around his waist, walking around the camp grounds and busking. His name was Harry Perry and his music had a spacey, Hendrix-y vibe. We set up camp then made our way to the ampitheatre which seemed about about a mile or two away.

Nine Inch Nails @ Sasquatch: photo by Mike LigonWe arrived in time to catch Trail of the Dead who were already into their set. At this point, I was really listening to the music as much as I was absorbing the beautiful landscape(the gorge, rocky terrian, and river) that lay before me. Fortunately, the overcast skies gave way to a dusky sun in time for TV On The Radio's set. I enjoyed their soulful take on indie rock. Next up were HIM; they seemed to have alot of fans but I wasn't really into them. Their singer also looked awfully like Johnny Deppe. As the sun set even more, Bauhaus took full advantage of the oncoming darkness with their decent light effects. Musically, I expected some gloom(given I only know their song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" and their cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust") but surprisingly they had a danceable post-punk sound that I found enjoyable. Preceding NIN's set, Sasquatch lighting effects crew projected some neat laser imagery onto the now darkened Gorge landscape. Arguably, the best show of the whole weekend was Nine Inch Nails, if only because the audience energy was high and the stage light effects were spectacular. Everything a big rock show should have. I even liked the music. "Hurt" was spine-tinglying. My brother and I headed back to camp grounds, along the way stopping in at the Sasquatch General store to pick up some cold cuts to make some sandwiches(we had bread in our cooler back at camp). Getting to our camp site was an adventure in itself as it took us a good half hour to find our camp site in the dark(the only lighting being the lights at some campsites and the lights along the dirt paths leading to the portable washrooms). As we were walking around, a lot of people were still running high on adrenalin from the night's show, while just as many people it seemed were walking aimlessly looking for their own camp sites. We eventually found camp, made the sandwiches and ate before hitting the sack - it started to rain, but it was pretty cozy in my tent, my brother in his own tent.

Neko Case @ Sasquatch: photo by Mike LigonSaturday morning, we woke up to a beautiful morning. We stayed in our tents relaxing before actually getting up, eating some bananas and peanut butter sandwiches, orange juice, and water, then preparing our napsacks for the day-long concert festival lineup. About a quarter to noon or so we started the walk towards The Gorge. During the walk towards The Gorge we could already hear Seattle hip hop locals Blue Scholars performing their set on the mainstage, and then while lining up to get inside The Gorge, Bedouin Soundclash who were on a smaller stage already at least 2 or 3 songs into their set, then launched into their hit "When The Night Feels Our Song". We finally got into the place, headed down to the floor for the first time and caught Rogue Wave's set. My brother headed up to the lawn to chill and I headed over to the smaller stage to see Architecure in Helsinki. Making my way back to the lawn are where my brother was we then caught Sufjan Stevens', then Iron and Wine's sets. My brother and I then headed back to the floors for Neko Case's set. From what I remember she sang "Favourite" and "If I knew". The sky gradually darkened and as Neko launched into "Star Witness", hail started to fall, first small but then grew larger and stronger in intensity, before forcing Neko off the stage. But for a good minute or so, she sung through the hail with nary a mention of the hail falling around her. Fucking amazing. Eventually, she had to cut her performance short and even after the rain and hail stopped she couldn't come back to perform because of schedule changes. But those of us there will always have that hailstorm! I came out soaked because of the rain and hail, but in retrospect it was all worth it.

The Flaming Lips @ Sasquatch: photo by Mike LigonIt was funny how ANY clothing at the merch tables were suddenly hot commodities since people were now soaking wet and cold. Fortunately I had a dry zippered sweat top in my knapsack which I slipped into after taking off my wet t-shirt although the Sasquatch t-shirt I bought earlier got wet through my knapsack. Also, the organizers made an exception to the no-entry rule and allowed people back to their camp-sites/cars for a change of clothing and get warm. Unfortunately, walking back to the camp grounds, changing, then walking back to The Gorge, we missed seeing The Tragically Hip's entire set although at least we heard it. With the rest of the schedule delayed, it felt like somewhat of a long night. The Shins apparently only were on for half an hour but at least they played all their 'hits'. Although, I appreciate Ben Harper's talent and some of his music is good, I found his set unbearably long. He played a short acoustic set also which was pretty great, during which I caught a shooting star streak in a flash across the night sky. Lovely. It's just too bad that The Flaming Lips had to go on so late(approx a quarter to 1 am) because at that point some people were too tired and cold to stick around. In particular, I saw people at the perimeter of the floor area leaving in droves. Too bad for them. The Lips put on their spectacular show complete with dancing aliens and Santa Claus', streamers, giant rubber balls and video screens. If the crowd seemed somewhat less energetic than I hoped, I couldn't blame given the hail storm we'd weathered earlier in the day.

Beck @ Sasquatch: photo by Mike LigonOn Sunday morning one of our camp neighbours allowed us to use their propane barbecue so that we could heat up some water and cook some eggs. How nice of them. We chatted with the couple a bit, who were playing a CD in their car and it turned out to be a bootleg of a recent Massive Attack show. I briefly chatted with them about the Massive Attack. My brother and I ended up sitting with them during the concert inside The Gorge. It's nice to meet people at shows. Getting into The Gorge, I headed down to the floors for Pretty Girls Make Graves set and later made it back to the floors for The Decemberists' set and Death Cab For Cutie's set. The concert-goer me was somewhat compelled to spend at least some of my time in front of the stage. The rest of the time I was content to sit on the lawn with my brother, where we watched sets by Arctic Monkeys(it rained a tad during part of the set), Matisyahu(a rainbow formed in the sky), and Queens Of The Stone Age. We also watched from the lawn, Beck's set, headliner of the day and closing out the 3-day festival in fine fashion playing all the fan-favourites. Beck performing "The Golden Age" made me one happy camper.

monorail in Seattle: photo by Mike LigonMonday morning we made an early rise to pack up for the drive back to Vancouver and were on our way by 8:30. Got some coffee(again at Starbucks) in Ellensburg, Washington. Stopped in Issiquah(just outside of Seattle) before noon for some lunch. While in Issiquah we stopped at a CD store and I came away with a great selection of CD's(11 in total) from their dollar bin, including CD's from Elvis Costello, Doves, The Sleepy Jackson, I Am Spoonbender. God Bless America. We got to Seattle, and decided to drive for a little more than an hour through the streets of downtown - we saw the Space Needle, the monorail, and I also saw where the Triple Door and Showbox music venues were located. Seattle has a great harbourfront area. There's a great sense of history in Seattle, with many buildings named for example, Seattle Tea Company, or Seattle something or other. The homeless situation seems far more rampant in Seatlle than anything I ever saw in downtown Toronto. What I only realize afterwards, when leafing through a few Seattle weeklies(The Stranger & Seattle Weekly) and all of the concert info is how amazing a music town Seattle is - not only is it home to KEXP, but it hosts a multitude of music venues and it has a tonne of good shows rolling through town - as good, if not better than Vancouver - Toronto's good, but one has to admit, than Toronto has gotten overlooked by bands on more than one occasion. Qui? Back in Vancouver, we relax, pick up some Thai food in Kitsilano, and relax some more. Sleep beckons.

The next day and half I spent souvenir shopping, going to Stanley Park, catching The Da Vinci Code, and just some good ol' brotherly bonding. And of course, the night before I leave, packing up for the trip back home to Ontario. Sniff, sniff. Vancouver, I will miss you.

My brother drove me to the airport on Wednesday morning and hung out with me until it was close to my plane's departure and we parted ways at the security check-in. He'd already decided before I got to Vancouver, that he was moving back to Ontario, so me and the rest of our family, plus his friends are all looking forward to that. The plane trip is smooth for the most part except for a little bit of unnerving turbulence. Still, when we land in Toronto, it's during a thunder/lightning storm which results in our plane not being able to get to our gate because airport personnel aren't allowed on the tarmac during bad weather. Our plane ends up sitting on the tarmac for about an hour before it's allowed to approach our gate. But maybe I should just be thankful that we landed when we did - later on, I heard on the news that there were tornado warnings. Shiver.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Last Stand

Here's the e-card for Zero 7's new album "The Garden" which was just released in Canada today.

Watch the new music video for Regina Spektor's "Samson"[her new album "Begin To Hope" will be released everywhere on June 13th]:

Windows: 220 | 450 | 700
Quicktime: 220 | 450 | 700

Morrissey-endorsed, Smoking Popes, and another band called Criteria will be at Lee's Palace on August 16th[via Pollstar].

I just came back from watching X-men: The Last Stand. Man, was that disappointing.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Do What You Wanna Do, Say What You Wanna Say

Acid House KingsWhen a post over at Stille Post raised the possibility of Swedish indiepop group Acid House Kings coming to Toronto, I was really excited. Apparently a person(Clyde) from the band's US record label Twenty Seven Records, had posted a while back on MySpace that he was in the midst of putting together a brief US tour for the band and had expressed Toronto as a possible stop, since he heard there was some interest from people in Toronto; he even asked if people in Toronto could contact him with info to make a Toronto stop a reality. I'm assuming, not much help was offered because unfortunately, dates for the band's upcoming short North American tour have been confirmed, and Toronto didn't make the cut. Damn. The following tour date info is from the band's website[and forgive me for the lateness of this info but it was posted on their website just before I went to Vancouver and I didn't get around to checking it out until now; in any case I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else]. Not quite road-trip worthy, but I'm hoping a Toronto date will come through in the end:

Acid House Kings - 2006 US Summer Tour

July 6: Chicago, IL (at Lakeshore Theatre)
July 7: Detroit, MI
July 8: New York, NY (at The Cake Shop)
July 9: Brooklyn, NY (at North 6)
July 10: Cambridge, MA (at TT The Bear's)
July 11: Washington, DC (at DC Nine)
July 12: Philadelphia, PA (at Kensington South Forum)

Listen: Acid House Kings @ MySpace (recommendation: "Do What You Wanna Do")

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Honey From The Tombs

Amy Millan - NOWOk so I lied on my last post about getting my Vancouver/west coast/Sasquatch Festival trip writeup up by this morning. Perhaps tomorrow. Or not. Eventually. Looking ahead concert-wise:

Amy Millan will be at Harbourfront Centre's CIBC Stage for an afternoon performance on Aug 26th[via Arts & Crafts]. The Harbourfront website has also posted a more detailed listing of its summer concert season. It doesn't list the Amy Millan show although her show falls within the Indie Unlimited festival which takes place from August 25 to 27. And I'm assuming that Amy's show will be a free show. Yippee! If you haven't already, check out the cover story on Amy in this week's NOW.

There's also been some more additions to Harbourfront's summer concert lineups since I lasted checked. Cadence Weapon will be performing a late night gig(actually around 11 pm) at Harbourfront's Brigantine Room on July 8th as part of Harbourfront's Bud Light: Beats, Breaks & Culture festival. During the Sobeys Hot & Spicy Food Festival which runs from August 11 to August 13, UK world music electronic artists State of Bengal will perform on August 12th at 9:30 pm while Toronto-based pop orchestra Hyzoloists will be performing an afternoon show at around 3 pm on August 13th. Check the entire Harbourfront summer festival lineup as there's a bunch of artists whom I'm not familiar with.

BTW, check out some streaming audio tracks as well as tour dates for Hylozoists over at their MySpace site.

Chromewaves posted yesterday his interesting artist/band picks for Toronto's NXNE festival which takes place from June 8 to 10. Well that saves me a lot of work since I was sort of planning to do a similar post next week, but I'll probably still post some of my own picks. This year's festival will also hold a special event at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square, the NXNE Indie Music Market, which will take place from 12 pm to 8 pm on Saturday June 10th. Check out the list of NXNE artists who will be there for you to meet, greet, and buy some merch from. Some artists will also be performing.

According to Chromewaves over at Stille Post, Wolf Parade along with special guests Frog Eyes will be in Toronto for an early show(6 pm) at the Phoenix on Saturday August 5th, tickets $15, onsale June 10th.

Garage-pop, brother-sister duo, Eux Autres have posted their tour dates for their upcoming North American tour. I've already mentioned that the band are scheduled for a show at Toronto's Rancho Relaxo on June 16th, as well as how excited I am to get to see them live. They'll also be in Hamilton, ON at The Casbah on June 15th, in Montreal, QC at L'Escogriffe on June 17th and Buffalo, NY at Soundlab on June 19th. According to their recent news update at their website, the band's debut album "Hell is Eux Autres" which is being rereleased through Grenadine Records will be out some time next week.

Looking ahead to Canada Day, Cuff The Duke will be performing a free show at Mel Lastman Square and will hitting the stage at around 9:15 pm. [via City of Toronto website].

So Junior Boys' new song "Like A Child" has been streaming at their MySpace site for several weeks now. But Yer Mam! has an mp3 of it for download so go get it. Junior Boys' second album "So This Is Goodbye" will be released through Domino Records sometime in August.

Another massive news update over at Matador Records, but of particular interest is that Yo La Tengo will be releasing a new CD/double LP(the cheekily titled "I Am Not Afraid Of You and I Will Beat Your Ass") on September 12(September 4th in places other than North America)[via Aversion]. Check out the cover art over at Matador Records. The label has also graciously made available a demo(mp3) of one of Yo La Tengo's new songs:

MP3: Yo La Tengo - "Beanbag Chair"(demo)

Also labelmates, Spoon now have a music video for "The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine":

MOV: Spoon - "The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine"