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.

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