Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Man Show

Jarvis Cocker will be in the virtual Bowery Ballroom for a Q & A session tomorrow April 30 at 3 pm EST followed by the broadcast of a full concert from the last time he visited NYC.

A new Stereolab album, "Chemical Chords" will be released August 19 in the US, and worldwide a day prior [via Pitchfork].

Maybe this year'll be the year I finally attend the Hillside Festival (July 25-27) in Guelph. Some names have already been announced like Cowboy Junkies, Hawksley Workman, Hayden and The Sadies but a little digging on my part reveals more names to look forward to including Six Shooter Records artists Elliott Brood, Jenn Grant, and Justin Rutledge. Other artists scheduled to be there, according to their respective MySpace sites, are akron/family, The Luyas, The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, po' girl, and Spiral Beach.

Chromewaves is on the ball as usual with some interesting/exciting concert news that includes some NXNE-related shows such as Money Mark at Horseshoe Tavern on June 12, Evan Dando at the Horseshoe on June 13 and Redd Kross at Lee's Palace on June 14.

Further down the road, Ohbijou are at Harbourfront on June 28, and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds are at Kool Haus on October 1.

At the end of this week, sister duo(or is that trio now?) Smoosh are playing an instore at Sonic Boom on May 2 at 7 pm prior to their opening slot for Tokyo Police Club at The Opera House later that evening.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Magic Doors

Portishead at Coachella 2008
Portishead at Coachella 2008

An an ounce of regret weighed on me as I watched Portishead's set at Coachella this past Saturday night through AT&T's Blue Room internet video feed. With a little motivation I might have just organized another trip back to Coachella, although thinking back to my trip to the festival in 2004, it was a lot of planning, within a short period of time. Cherish that trip as I do, I don't miss the heat, the sweat, the lineups, the overpriced water botteles and my aching body at the end of each day(and back then it was only two days, unlike the present's three day festival).

Whatever one's qualms might be about corporate sponsorship, AT&T's affiliation with Coachella was a positive one if only for them to have the foresight to broadcast Portishead's penultimate set of day two of the festival(no offense, Prince). Remember when internet video was choppy, grainy and just downright not worth it? Internet streaming video today is much better today and while that technical improvement is appreciated, it's still rare that I feel any sort of emotional connection to any live video streaming over the internet. That said, Portishead's Coachella set exceeded all my expectations. As crisp picture quality I've ever seen for internet streaming video, the multi-angled camera shots took full advantage in conveying the awesomeness of Portishead's stage production which cast the band and stage in varying degrees of light and shadow, and hues of black, white, blue and red against a giant video screen backdrop that revealed the subtlties in expression of the band members' faces and musicianship. Beth Gibbons was maybe never more exposed as the camera took the most intimate closeups of her face as she sang into and hung on her microphone for dear life.

Portishead's return to the tour circuit has been a selective one as so far they only have a select number of European dates lined up(and apparently won't be touring in the US[and presumably in Canada] until 2009).For North Americans, Coachella was to be their proving ground after a painful 11 year absence between their last album, the self-tited "Portishead" and the to-be-released-tomorrow new album "Third" and their first live show in North America in 10 years. I will say that Portishead rose to the task both in terms of the performance of the older material(changing things up a bit for example in an even more intimate version of "Wandering Star") and the newer material that bookended and sprinkled the set which displayed the evolution of Portishead from its trip-hop roots but still felt like Portishead in terms of rhythm, vocals, and dynamics(although the loud was louder than anything you'd have expected from them - a pleasant surprise). It was as thoroughly enjoyable and goosebump-inducing as one could expect. Portishead are back.

Watching a concert on the internet will perhaps never replace the live experience - the communal aspect and the sensory impressions - but from thousands of miles away, I made that intimate connection to Portishead. God, I wish I'd been there, but on the other hand, knowing my luck I'd probably have had some tall dude stand right in front of me.

Here's the setlist.

The L.A. Times and NME reviews Portishead's set.

Check out some awesome photos from Portishead's Coachella set over at Brooklyn Vegan(courtesy of Ryan Muir).

Deaf Indie Elephants has the whole set available for download in mp3 format. So does Mystic Chords Of Memory[via Brooklyn Vegan]

Photos galore of Portishead at Coachella over at Flickr.

Lots of spectator video of Portishead's Coachella set over at YouTube.

And a last reminder, Portishead's new album "Third" is in stores tomorrow. Or you can purchase the limited-edition box set over at the Portishead Online Store.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Road To Somewhere

Other than a few US tour dates coming up in the next few days(including an appearance at this weekend's Coachella festival), there's still yet no news of North American tourdates for Goldfrapp. She did recently precede her Coachella appearance with a session for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic and a performance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno:

Video: Goldfrapp - Happiness" (live on The Tonight Show - April 22, 2008)
Audio/Video: Goldfrapp - live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic - April 23, 2008

Goldfrapp's tour dates are almost solidly booked throughout the summer in Europe, so a better bet for North American tour dates might be this fall.

Another band on my tour-date radar(and also at this year's Coachella) is Portishead, although no news yet of a Toronto/other North American dates but in the meantime, watch Geoff and Adrian speak briefly(1 min and 36 secs) with The Herald Sun about Portishead's new album "Third", check out a cool live version of "Machine Gun" the band performed in Berlin at the end of March for Vertigo.tv, and check out their live performance on Later With Jools Holland on April 18:

Video: Portishead's Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley speak with The Herald Sun (1 min and 36 sec)
Video: Portishead - "Machine Gun" (live in Berlin - filmed for Vertigo.tv - end of March 2008)
Video: Portishead -"We Carry On" (live on Later... - April 18, 2008)
Video: Portishead -"The Rip" (live on Later... - April 18, 2008)
Video: Portishead -"Machine Gun" (live on Later... - April 18, 2008)

By the way, Portishead's new album "Third" (released in Canada on April 29) is streaming over at Last.fm for your enjoyment for a week(it started April 21).

Concert/festival announcements have been coming with full force this week including preliminary and or full lineups for the Toronto Jazz Festival(June 20-29) at various venues, Rogers Picnic(July 20) at Historic Fort York in Toronto, and Hillside(July 25-27) in Guelph. Check the respective websites for further info. There's also the 'Rock The Bells' tour coming to Molson Ampitheatre on July 20 featuring A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and a reunited Pharcyde among others - more details over at Billboard.

In my neck of the woods, the considerably more modest Mississauga Waterfront Festival(June 13-15) lineup has been announced, and I have to say that most years it doesn't appeal to me much but this year The Sadies are playing the evening of June 13, opening for Matthew Good. While I've never really been a fan of Matthew Good, his most recent album "Hospital Music" (inspired by Matthew's divorce, his battle with bipolar disorder and his eventual overdose) which I'd sampled recently was a more stripped-down affair and revealed moments of clarity and honesty that made me want to give him a second chance. I mean, he sells(did sell?) tonnes of records in Canada, and all those fans can't be wrong.

These New Puritans and French Kicks are at the Reverb on June 12 as part of an NME showcase for NXNE. [via The Windish Agency]

Up and coming indie act Times New Viking are at Horseshoe Tavern on Canada Day, July 1. [via Ground Control Touring]

The Black Keys are at the Phoenix on August 3 and the Osheaga Festival in Montreal the following day. More dates here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Trouble In Dreams

concert review: Destroyer, Colossal Yes @ Lee's Palace (Toronto, Ontario), April 19, 2007

Destroyer at Lee's Palace: photo by Michael Ligon

Even if Oakland, California trio Colossal keyboard-playing frontman Utrillo Kushner mentioned that this show was the first time they'd played more than a few shows in a row, doesn't necessarily excuse them for being a little lacklustre. They weren't without their merits though. I give them props for bringing back the Ben Folds Five configuration - drums, bass guitar, and a keyboard-playing vocalist. There were some moments of enjoyment - a sunny melody here, some spunky rhythms there, and even a little bit of Wilco-esque alt country edginess but overall they lacked the liveliness and charm that Ben Folds Five were known for. Chalk it up to inexperience but perhaps they'll get better with time.

The night did only get slightly better with headliner Destroyer, featuring frontman Dan Bejar and a full band lineup. While Dan's presence was missed slightly for The New Pornographers show at the Phoenix on April 8, I figured the Destroyer show would make up for that. It's surprising that even as rockin'(instrumentally speaking) as Destroyer's set was, it was actually a little boring, part of that due to me not recognizing many of the songs. At least according to some concert-goers, most of the songs were from the most recent album "Trouble In Dreams"(which I purchased at the show, if only because it was only $12) and from past album "This Night", two albums that I hadn't heard. Disappointedly, I only recognized "Rubies" off of Destroyer's last album "Destroyer's Rubies". The intricate pop of some of Destroyer's earlier work was missed for most of the set, replaced by a rockier tone that while I did find enjoyable in spurts, it would have been more of a satisfying set had Dan rounded out the set list a bit better. But so it goes.

Photos to come(only a few, so don't get your hopes up). Update: Here they are finally.

MySpace: Colossal Yes
MySpace: Destroyer

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Record Store Day

On a glorious sunny day yesterday, I 'celebrated' Record Store Day down at Soundscapes who were offering 10 % off most of their inventory. Going a little old school & new school, after a little deliberation I picked up The Modern Lovers' self-titled 1976 released album and British Sea Power's most recent disc "Do You Like Rock Music?".

British Sea Power will make their way back to Toronto for a show at Lee's Palace on May 16 while The Modern Lovers' Jonathan Richman only has a handful of US/Canadian dates on his itinerary(including a date at the Sled Island Festival in Calgary at the end of June) but unfortunately none in Toronto. The last time he played in Toronto he played three nights at Lula Lounge in 2004, one of the nights which I went to, so it's not like he's adverse to playing here I guess. C'mon Jojo, put Toronto on the sched.

Youtube: The Modern Lovers - "Roadrunner"
Youtube: British Sea Power - "Waving Flags" (music video)
Youtube: British Sea Power - "No Lucifer" (music video)

ps. Speaking of Soundscapes, Toronto's Born Ruffians will be performing for an instore on Sunday April 27 at 4 pm.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too

Uncut has a favourable and well-written review of Portishead's soon-to-be-released new album "Third" as well as a brief interview with member Geoff Barrow.

Transplanted Montrealer, now living in Brooklyn, Martha Wainwright returns to Toronto for a show at The Mod Club on June 6 according to Pollstar. The announcement is on the heels of the news of her upcoming second album entitled "I Know You're Married But I've Got Feelings Too" which will be available June 10.

I guess it makes sense that while Mogwai is already scheduled to appear at the Sled Island Music Festival in Calgary on June 28 that they might as well schedule other North American dates around it. Toronto, consider yourself lucky, because they've so far only confirmed one other date and it'll be at the Phoenix Concert Theatre on June 30[via Ground Control Touring]. Ok, Mogwai fans you can now scream.

The Windish Agency has some upcoming dates for Brazilian hipsters CSS which include a date at Kool Haus on August 5 with UK's The Go Team. Now that should be fun times.

20 Degrees Celsius tomorrow! Time to get out the mountain bike.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hard Feelings

Here's a stop-gap post of assorted concert announcements and music news until some real content comes along:

Peter Moren(of Peter Bjorn and John) is at the El Mocambo on April 24. The show was moved from The Mod Club.

Aversion interviews The Constantines who are at the Phoenix on May 1 and the Virgin Festival at Toronto Islands on September 6. Their newest album "Kensington Heights" is available to stream over at their MySpace; more tour dates over there as well.

Constantine guitarist Steve Lambke aka Baby Eagle is at Tranzac on April 26 and the Silver Dollar on April 28.

Rebekah Higgs is at Ukula on May 2[last two tour items via Outside Music].

Portland, Oregon's The Helio Sequence are at the Horseshoe Tavern on May 26[via Inland Empire Touring].

Coming back to Toronto on June 6(after her recent sold-out show at the Rivoli), British soul sensation Adele returns for a show June 6 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre [via Beggars Group Canada].

Beggars Group Canada also will also bring the suave folk-pop stylings of Adam Green to Toronto for a show at Horseshoe Tavern on June 6. His most recent album "Sixes and Seven" is out now through Rough Trade and can be sampled over at his MySpace.

My Morning Jacket return to Toronto(after their recent show at Berkeley Church) for a show at Kool Haus on June 16.

Though not confirmed by the band's website nor their MySpace, Pollstar indicates that Toronto's The Hidden Cameras return home to take part in Pride on June 28 and 29.

The Windish Agency is now listing Poni Hoax(no longer Datarock) as the opener for the Ladytron show at Harbourfront Centre on July 4.

Richard Thompson is at The Danforth Music Hall Theatre on July 6, tickets $35.00.

Not riled by bogus record reviews by Maxim magazine, The Black Crowes come to prove themselves at Massey Hall on July 12.

I'm still not quite sure of the musical lineage that runs through the band A Hack And A Hacksaw(are they a Neutral Milk Hotel side project?; what's the Beirut connection?) as I haven't devoted enough time to reading up on them but they're at El Mocambo on July 16 and my interest is piqued by the samples over at their MySpace.

Brooklyn, NY's Oneida are at a venue TBA on August 15[ via Kork Agency ].

Chartattack reports that Sloan's 13-track new album "Parallel Play" will be released through Yep Roc in the U.S on June 8 and it's expected(though not confirmed) that Sloan will release through their own label Murderecords in Canada on the same day. Chartattack has the new album's tracklisting.

Lyncanthropy has mp3's of Portishead's recent performance on Current TV of new songs from their forthcoming album "Third". Thank you Lycanthropy.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Stage Names

concert review: The New Pornographers, Okkervil River @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (Toronto, Ontario), April 8, 2008

The New Pornographers @ Phoenix: photo by Michael Ligon

An odd pairing of sorts, Vancouver power poppers The New Pornographers and the literate, emotive Americana of Okkervil River took over the Phoenix last Tuesday. As still a relative newcomer to the band, jumping on the bandwagon so to speak with their last album "Black Sheep Boy" and seeing them for the first time live back in September 2007 at Lee's Palace, Okkervil River's opening set last Tuesday was a chance for me to reacquaint myself with their live set. Do my eyes and ears deceive me but were lead vocalist Will Sheff's vocals and mannerism's more affected this time around? They put on a damn fine set still in my opinion, but it seemed that Will was putting more effort into his vocals to emote rather than letting it come across naturally. New guitarist Charles Bissell from The Wrens was a joy to watch in his sort of jerky guitar playing style, at times locking his elbow as he whipped out some mini windmill guitar strums.

One thing's for sure, but Toronto never gets tired of The New Pornographers, especially if Neko Case and Dan Bejar are in tow. No Dan this time around(in any case, I'll get to see his baby Destroyer at Lee's this coming Saturday), but Neko Case was in the house, and her presence and vocals were a definite asset, especially on brooding numbers like "Bones Of An Idol" and "The Bleeding Heart Show". Of course, The Porns' are best during their uptempo numbers(only because they distract one from the fact that they have little stage presence), by now which you all know which they are, but highlights of course included "Mass Romantic", "The Laws Have Change", "Sing Me Spanish Techno", and "Use It". Thanks, to Neko for pointing out the new art work adorning the Phoenix's walls - somewhat disturbing art of psychotic looking clowns - I"m sure Neko pointed out the art out in jest but really they are kind of creepy, don't you think? I liked how Carl cheekily said he almost didn't notice them. That humorous banter aside, The Porns' stuck to what they do best, which is the music. Musically, they never disappoint at least in my books, but sometimes I wish they'd dress up in bunny suits or do something else visually to make their live set a better live experience. The cover of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" was a welcome diversion although why during the last few times they come through Toronto haven't they thought of performing their cover of Toronto 80's rock band Toronto's "Daddy Don't Know"? Just a thought. (If they could perform in full cheesy 80's dress-up, that would be a bonus.)

Check out my photos from the show over at my Flickr.

More reviews of the show over at Chromewaves, chartattack and Burnside Writer's Blog.

MySpace: Okkervil River
MySpace: The New Pornographers

Friday, April 11, 2008

Portishead In Portishead

Portishead performs 8 songs from their forthcoming album "Third" for Current TV. The video below has been up on current.com for several hours now but those of you lucky enough to get Current TV through your cable network can watch it now in better resolution(it started at 10 pm EST) and it will be repeated several times - check your local listings. Enjoy:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If I Could Cry (it would feel like this)

concert review: Jens Lekman, Final Fantasy, Katie Stelmanis @ The Great Hall (Toronto, Ontario), April 7, 2008

Jens Lekman at Great Hall: photo by Michael Ligon

When I first caught the news that Jens Lekman was going to play a two-night stint at The Music Gallery(for April 7 and 8) with Katie Stelmanis opening the first night and Final Fantasy the next, I decided to buy a ticket for each show. However, those bragging rights went out the window when the two-nighter was changed to one-night and moved to the larger The Great Hall to accommodate more fans, some who'd originally been left disappointed when the original two nights sold out relatively quickly. Much of my excitement for Jens' original plans to play at The Music Gallery were based on that blissful evening that he and a few friends played at that venue back in 2005 which I admitted was by far my favourite show of that year. So it wasn't to be at The Music Gallery this time but Great Hall was a fine replacement. I'd never been there until that night and it was a nice discovery - the second floor banquet hall(where the show took place) was beautiful in it's spaciousness, nice wooden floor, adequately high stage, and second-level balcony area. This was the setting for Jens Lekman's return to Toronto after an almost three year absence.

Young Toronto artist Katie Stelmanis, accompanied by percussionist Maya Postepski, opened the show. Downsized to a duo(from the full band that I'd seen Katie with during CMW), it was Katie on vox/keyboards, and Maya on drums and percussion, as well as activating back rhythm tracks on the trusty iPod. The performance was equal parts stark, dramatic vocals, approaching-on-threatening drum arrangements, and somber minor-key melodies. The drumming(fairly straightforward time signatures) seemed much more propulsive this time around, and to great effect. Towards the end of the set, the string of lights attached to the front of Katie's keyboard were illuminated casting Katie for a bit in half light and shadow to great visual effect. The stage lights were turned up subsequently as Katie and Maya performed a unconventional yet still stirring rendition of Roy Orbison's "Crying".

Given the career path of Owen Pallett(aka Final Fantasy) over the last several years, it's surprising that the most 'intimate' show I saw him live was when he opened for The Arcade Fire at Danforth Music Hall in 2005. The only other time I saw him live was at last year's Canada Day show at Harbourfront. I don't expect him to perform many intimate venues in Toronto anymore, or not all that often, so it was a treat to catch at Great Hall a few nights ago. A set riddled with sound problems, much of it was not really that bothersome to me as it was to others, but perhaps the beautiful visual overhead projections of artist Stephanie Comilang were a distraction. Looping pedal at his disposal, much of the set of course was Owen and his violin, but Owen also took a turn at keyboards. Much of Owen's music is mood music to me - that is, I need to be in the mood to listen to his brand of classically - influenced, sometimes whimsical, pop music, hence my only casual familiarity but live the songs are much more engrossing. Old songs were played and a few new songs were introduced - the regular deal. Good set, but let's move on.

It's a shame that Jens band couldn't join him this time except for percussionist Tammy Karlsson and her "lovely bongos"[I couldn't help but chuckle when Jens said this]. The majority of the set was a stripped down affair with Jens on vox and guitar and sometimes joined by Tammy on bongo drums. Lovely in its own right it, Jens solo performances are perhaps better suited for romantic serenades while sitting under a tree[like he did after the show at a park nearby, for which I unfortunately didn't stick around for]. Much of what is interesting and enjoyable about Jens' most recent album "Night Falls Over Kortedala" is the creative integration of electronic elements/rhythms in Jens' pop confections and for most of the night that element was sorely missing, notably the disco rhythms of "Sipping On The Sweet Nectar". However, the sampler/iPod or whatever Jens was using was striked up as the sampled opening twinkling piano sounds of "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You" wafted over the crowd as Jens segued into a performance of that song. The fuller sound brought to the proceedings by Owen Pallett on violin was much appreciated by me especially on songs like on the romantic "Your Arms Around Me" and "You Are The Light". "The Opposite of Hallelujah" featured the trio of Owen, Maggie Macdonald and visual artist Stephanie Comilang(taking a break from her visual projections) on background vocals. The most audience participation came early on in the evening during "Sweet Summer's Night On Hammer Hill" during the 'My Heart goes ba, ba, ba, ba, ba....' part and other than listening and laughing to Jens' humourous anecdotes and comments, it was mostly about listening to the music and soaking it all in. Unfortunately the show didn't meet the blissful levels of his last show at The Music Gallery in 2005, but considering the almost 3-year gap between shows, I'll consider myself fortunate for seeing him at all.

Check out my photos from the show over at Flickr.

More reviews/photos of the show at Chromewaves, It's Not The Band..., Narratives, chartattack and Eye Weekly. BTW, nice to meet Bob and Jen.

MySpace: Katie Stelmanis
MySpace: Final Fantasy

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

We Carry On

PortisheadComing up on April 11, Bristol trip-hop pioneers Portishead will be performing 8 songs from their third album "Third"(released in Canada April 29) for current.com [thanks to The Music Slut for the info]. It won't be the same as seeing them live like at this year's Coachella(no, I'm not going, btw). The band revealed to NME recently that they're divided about touring - Beth is nervous about playing live, Geoff Hates playing live and Adrian loves it - but given their scheduled Coachella and UK dates, North America can't be far off. I don't expect they'll be playing venues like Trinity St. Paul's in Toronto like they did way back when[the show I think I most regret not seeing] but I'm unsure how big of a venue they could fill. Kool Haus and Massey Hall for sure, maybe Ricoh Coliseum but I'm not sure if they could fill the Air Canada Centre. I hope that Portishead do come to Toronto and play their own headlining show but an appearance at this year's Virgin Festival at Toronto Islands this September might not be a bad thing either. The new album's out in Canada on April 29 and I've resisted downloading any leaks but I've noticed that all the songs on the new album are streaming over at YouTube. I've sampled but not completely absorbed everything but it's dark and haunting and a logical extension of where they left off. It's not trip-hop, mind you, and I'm glad of it, but the rhythm's are still there. You know you can't resist[photo above from MTV UK]:

YouTube: Portishead - "Silence"
YouTube: Portishead - "Hunter"
YouTube: Portishead - "Nylon Smile"
YouTube: Portishead - "The Rip"
YouTube: Portishead - "Plastic"
YouTube: Portishead - "We Carry On"
YouTube: Portishead - "Deep Water"
YouTube: Portishead - "Machine Gun" (music video)
YouTube: Portishead - "Small"
YouTube: Portishead - "Magic Doors"
YouTube: Portishead - "Threads"
MySpace: Portishead

Pitchfork has an interview with Portishead which I have to catch up on.

Toronto's InsideAMind are releasing their debut 12"(highlighting two tracks off their forthcoming Scatterpopia LP and they'll be hosting a record release party at The Boat on May 1[via Stille Post]. I caught them live during the Nuit Blanche festival at The Music Gallery last year and thought their turntablism sounds were very reminiscent of Portishead's Geoff Barrow.

Not as influential to Portishead, but perhaps more to Bristol's Massive Attack, legendary dub reggae artist Lee "Scratch" Perry will be at Harbourfront on June 30, according to Pollstar.

Any having nothing whatsover to do with Portishead, UK pop duo The Ting Tings will be at The Mod Club on June 16, tickets $13.50.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Me and You and a Bottle of Buckie

concert review: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, The Constantines @ Berkeley Church (Toronto, Ontario), April 3, 2008

Last Thursday, Ted Leo and The Pharmacists and The Constantines made up a dynamite double-bill for a taping of Beautiful Noise down at Berkeley Church. On any other night at any other venue, that double-bill would be an all-out foundations-shaker but I got the impression that both artists were holding back just a tad. After all this was television. But if they were a little more reserved than usual, they still exuded a visceral live energy that's lacking in a lot of other bands on their best nights.

The Constantines opened up the night in fine fashion with "Young Lions" with other memorable songs of the night including "Hotline Operator", "Working Full-Time", and "Young Offenders". Bry worked in some humorous banter here and there including his admission that he and the band were wearing makeup which drew a chuckle from the crowd. I've seen The Cons live a few times now and this set they were relatively more subdued. Sure, more than a few people took part during the the verse of 'Can I Get A Witness?!' during "Young Offenders" but overall the set wasn't the sweat-fest I'm used to seeing The Cons. A few new tunes(I'm assuming off their newest album "Kensington Heights") were performed whose unfamiliarity to me is only adding to the difficulty for me in spitting out this review. One relevatory moment for me though, was during "Hotline Operator", probably my favourite song of the evening - The Constantines make a kick-ass soul band. I should make mention that Bry's parents[well, I think they were] were in the audience, and his father especially, whooped it up almost louder than anyone. Now, that's parental encouragement.

As I'd mentioned back in October 2007 about Ted Leo and The Pharmacists' show at The Mod Club, I'd reached a point that I said I needed a break from seeing them live. At that point I'd already seen Ted Leo live five time(that Mod Club show making it six times) and while it's always an enjoyable experience to see Ted Leo live, his set list was becoming overly familiar. Not much necessarily changed set-list wise this time, with much of the set concentrating on his most recent disc "Living With The Living", with some scattershot older 'hits' like "Me and Mia", "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?" and "Timorous Me", but I guess time makes the heart grow fonder. I wasn't as impatient as last time about hearing these songs again; I still wished he delve deeped into his catalogue every now and then. Like The Constantines, Ted also took an opportunity to introduce some new material which likely will be on the next album, apparently to come out this September(at least from what I'd overheard a young audience member mention). Perhaps the greatest part of the show was watching the reaction/participation of the younger crowd at the front of the stage, whether it be a top-of-the-lungs shout of 'Bomb.Repeat.Bomb' or the group of four young ladies at that front that danced with gleeful abandon. To be sixteen again and have a reaction like this.

MySpace: The Constantines
MySpace: Ted Leo and The Pharmacists

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It Beats 4 U

concert review: My Morning Jacket @ Berkeley Church (Toronto, Ontario), March 31, 2008

Music program Beautiful Noise commenced a week of tapings for its new season this past Monday at Berkeley Church with a show by Louisville, Kentucky band My Morning Jacket. They're a band I've been aware for a while now who I'm aware have their share of fervent fans and while I'd sample their album "Z" a few years ago on the recommendation of a friend, it was only a few months ago I actually got around to buying it. Securing a spot on the guest list for the show, I took this as an opportunity to check out what the fuss was all about.

Before I continue, I must mention the RSVP fiasco which occurred outside. There were a bunch of us(maybe 30 or so) who didn't make it in right away because apparently there was an overbooking of RSVP's which of course didn't go over well given that the understanding was that our RSVP e-mail confirmation was suppose to secure our spot. Of course, phrases like "over-capacity" and "fire-marshall" were overheard. But as luck would have it, I did make it in finally(but only after My Morning Jacket's set began) as they allowed about 20 more people in. (According to The Panic Manual, he and about 8 more people left standing outside at the time were eventually let in by a kind soul.)

As was expected, it was a packed house and us last-minuters were directed to watch from the balcony which would have been great had the whole balcony area been open. The one side of the balcony that was available of course had people along the entire length of the railing which meant I had to basically settle on trying to look over people's heads(but with not much success). Part of the live experience for me is the visual element and being unable to see the stage(except for a few glimpses) was a definite detractor to my enjoyment. However, the acoustics were glorious, so there was not much else to do but settle back, have a drink and enjoy. From the time I got in to before halfway through the show, I spent my time in the balcony soaking up the songs which to me encompassed some of the best elements of rock music like extended jams and guitar solos, rock music that could be anthemic one time, smooth like a summer breeze another, and displaying a spacey, cosmic beauty the next. I was particularly enamored with the reverb-soaked melodic vocals of Jim James of which the venue's acoustics took full advantage of.

About halfway through the set I decided to make my way to the first floor and I was pleasantly surprised that they were no longer blocking access and I was able to get in. It was a tenfold improvement from the balcony and I finally was able to see most of the stage and the band. With the stage drenched in hues of blue and green and probably many other colours, the band was most dynamic during their anthemic rock numbers, at one point vocalist Jim James covering his sweat-soaked head in what seemed to be a towel or t-shirt as he continued to sing to the audience with blissful passion. The band were also adept at performing quieter, desolate numbers and the ironic thing is that, given now that I was finally able to see the band, I almost felt like closing my eyes and soaking it all in.

More reviews of the show over at Chromewaves and The Panic Manual.

ps. I hope there aren't any RSVP foul-ups when I go to the Beautiful Noise taping at Berkeley Church tomorrow featuring The Constantines and Ted Leo. I'll be showing up early, that's for sure.

MySpace: My Morning Jacket