Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Stills @ Marilyn Bell Park, Toronto (September 10, 2010)

Update [Sept 19/2010]: Review now below.

It's been over a week since I saw The Stills perform a free show down at Marilyn Bell Park as part of Rock The Boat, an evening of dragon boat races and live music. The band's been doing the rounds attempting to seep back into the consciousness of the music-buying, concert-going public, having just prior to that also playing a free show down at the Distillery District. For a band that seemed bound for stardom back in 2004 when I first saw them live (strangely, it was outside of Canada at the Coachella festival in California), having released their debut full-length Logic Will Break Your Heart in 2003 through the uber-hip Vice Records label, the band's popularity seemed to wane over their second and third albums with original guitarist Gregory Paquet leaving the band in 2005, and drummer Dave Hamelin moving to guitar and vocals and guitar vocalist Tim Fletcher taking a bit of a back seat. But with the return of Greg to the fold earlier this year, and with Dave moving back to drums and Tim to lead vocals, and with Liam O'Neil on keys and Olivier Corbeil on bass, the band's original lineup was back in place. Perhaps the band will experience a bit of a resurgence going forward. As it seemed from the band's general posture on stage and their facial expressions, the band were enjoying themselves this night.

I was a fan of the band's debut when it came out but for no other reasons than too much music to listen to, didn't follow them too closely after that. But within the circle of music-minded individuals in Toronto I've met at shows and grown to know, my impression is that The Stills don't get too much love. The band do have a certain radio-friendly sound (well at least for alternative rock radio) but I will maintain that like their recent live set at Marilyn Bell Park, the band do have a more raw sound live. For a free show, it wasn't nearly as packed as I'd have imagined although I don't think it was really promoted that well, but given that night's(September 10) multitude of other things to do I'd sooner assume people were taking in other events. The crowd swelled to great numbers by the band's third song it seems, the band's set a mix of faves from all three of their albums and also including about 6 new songs (note - the band recently tweeted on September 3 that they were going into the studio in the country soon to begin recording their next album). I felt Pacquet's guitar tuning felt a bit flat, and Fletcher's vocals a bit over-reaching at times but otherwise, led by Hamelin's solid drumming the band performed a solid set of tuneful rock songs. They expressed a good variety of sonics throughout the set, a bit of dissonant guitar sounds, soothing keys, thick bass, and anthemic qualities at times. While summer hasn't technically ended yet, that night was one of the last warmer summery nights of the year. Generally, it wasn't a show that provoked strong feelings - I think it was satisfying at best - but when the band came back for an encore to play one more song, their hit "Still In Love Song", it reminded me that the band can really nail it sometimes.

Photos: The Stills @ Marilyn Bell Park, Toronto (September 10, 2010)
MySpace: The Stills

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