Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jens Lekman @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (October 4, 2012)

Jens Lekman: photo by Michael Ligon
  Jens Lekman: photo by Michael Ligon

I will mention that Jens Lekman and his band's performance of "The Opposite of Hallelujah" at the Phoenix Concert Theatre this past October 4th was just about my favourite single live performance of the year, with the crowd singing and snapping fingers along to the tune, with just about everyone with the biggest grins on their faces. And then at the end of the song, Jens magnificently mimicked playing a xylophone in the air, synched perfectly with the drummer tapping the last few notes on the real instrument. Genius. Openers were fellow Swedes Taken By Trees whose smart pop is likable but watching vocalist and listening to vocalist Victoria Bergsman onstage, I really got the urge to shake her and tell her to inject some energy into her singing.

A few more photos from the show I took, at the link below:

Photos: Jens Lekman @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (October 4, 2012)

Because I can't really do a review that will do this show justice at this point, I beg you to check out the reviews and/or photos from the show over at The National Post, Exclaim, Chromewaves, and The Panic Manual.

Mechanical Forest Sound has a few recordings from the show, including the aforementioned "The Opposite of Hallelujah"!

Friday, December 28, 2012

James St. Supercrawl, Hamilton ON (September 15, 2012)

  Owen Pallett: photo by Michael Ligon

Back on September 15th, I attended the James St. Supercrawl in Hamilton for the second year in a row. The event is billed as celebrating "...the diversity of James North, our multi-disciplinary arts community, and the incredible spark that results with our unique mix of cultures, businesses and creative people." In essence, it's a quaint yet impressive festival featuring both visual art and music. Last year's event was my first time attending and I was impressed by it's musical lineup which included artists like Basia Bulat, Broken Social Scene, J Mascis, Frank Black, Junior Boys and Plants and Animals and so I thought a return to the festival this year was in order even if I thought it's musical lineup wasn't as strong this year. Aside from the music, I just thought the setup along Hamilton's James St. was very cool, with art, vendors, food and food trucks, busking stages and bigger stages stretching over several blocks. This year the festival encompassed a second day with things kicking off on the night of Friday September 14 but I only attended the main day which was the 15th. Getting there by GO Train later in the afternoon I caught as much of the visual art along the street as I could before dusk set in, and then later caught musical performances at different stages from artists including Eamon Mcgrath, Julie Fader, Born Ruffians, The Gertrudes, Great Lake Swimmers, Owen Pallett and at the end of the night as I headed back to catch the last late night GO Train back to Mississauga, I caught the headliner on the main stage K'naan closing out the night with his signature tune "Waving Flags" with the crowd singing along wholeheartedly.

  Wood Sculpture: photo by Michael Ligon

  Julie Fader: photo by Michael Ligon

  Born Ruffians: photo by Michael Ligon

  Great Lake Swimmers: photo by Michael Ligon

More of my photos from the day are at the link below:

Photos: James St. Supercrawl, Hamilton ON (September 15, 2012)

Reviews of Supercrawl over at CBC Hamilton and

Thursday, December 27, 2012

HARD Fest w/ Justice, M83, Austra, Buraka Som Sistema @ Fort York Garrison Common, Toronto (August 4, 2012)

  Justice: photo by Michael Ligon

Having yesterday gone through my photos of HARD Fest at Fort York: Garrison Common which took place earlier this year on a steamy August 4, it's funny that nature has today given this year's first dumping of snow around Southern Ontario. Not complaining about the snow but my photos from the summer has made me miss that weather ever so slightly. While most of the Toronto music blog-osphere / media had gone to the Osheaga Festival in Montreal that weekend (even though many of the feature acts such as Sigur Ros, Jesus and Mary Chain, Justice, M83, The Black Keys, and Florence + the Machine had Toronto dates just prior to the Festival), I chose to stay in Toronto since I was having my own downsized version of Osheaga spread out over a few days having just seen Sigur Ros, Jesus and Mary Chain and now Justice and M83.

HARD Fest was quite a compact festival with just one stage (and an equally compact lineup), an area for food and drinks, and areas for merch and washrooms. I also love the fact that it's accessible by TTC, although I'm disappointed that Fort York had chose to move it's outdoor music site to the Garrison Common grounds rather than within Fort York itself as it had been back during the Rogers Picnic days. The lineup included the Afro-techno group Buraka Som Sistema, local electro-goth outfit Austra, French electro/shoegazers M83 and French dance / electronic duo Justice. There was a late addition to the lineup with the electro-pop songs of Charli XCX who opened up the festival earlier in the afternoon but whose set I missed.

Buraka Som Sistema would get the award for most energetic live set I saw that day with their colourful-attired female vocalist pumping up the crowd with her singing and chants and her male rapping cohorts dousing the audience with some water gun action. Austra, with lead vocalist Katie Stelmanis in her circular sunglasses, played a tight set and if I recall correctly played a few new tunes. I'd been looking forward to seeing M83 and wasn't disappointed - I was a newbie to the band so just hearing their singles "Midnight City" (with its sublime sax solo) and "Reunion" made it all worthwhile.

With tweets from Osheaga all day updating about the wicked stormy weather they were about to get, then got, and then got again, and with that weather system moving west towards Toronto, I was hoping for the best. We were fortunate to have great summer weather through Buraka Som Sistema and Austra's sets and we managed to stay dry right up until near the end of M83's set but as that set ended and night was setting in, the raindrops came and then eventually poured. And although I had brought a plastic rain poncho, I chose to forgo it and take a little cover under the trees near the food area (although that turned out to be futile as I was still getting soaked). Making sure my camera was nice and dry in my backpack, the rain really wasn't that much of a downer since it was a warm rain and in some ways made the experience more enjoyable. The rain did delay headliner Justice's set a bit but as the downpour subsided and then cleared, and then Justice came on with their pumping dance set, it was all worth the wait. Terrific compact festival (or maybe I'm just getting old and can't take multi-day festivals.)

  Buraka Som Sistema: photo by Michael Ligon

  Austra: photo by Michael Ligon

  M83: photo by Michael Ligon

Check out more of my photos from the show at the link below:

Photos: HARD Fest w/ Justice, M83, Austra, Buraka Som Sistema @ Fort York Garrison Common, Toronto (August 4, 2012)

More reviews and / or photos from the show over at Torontoist, Take More Photos, Aesthetic Magazine, Style Circle, Ride The Tempo, Dinos's Word and the Austra forum.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Jesus and Mary Chain, Nightbox @ Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto (August 3, 2012)

Jim Reid of Jesus and Mary Chain: photo by Michael Ligon
  Jim Reid of Jesus and Mary Chain: photo by Michael Ligon

Hope everyone had a great Christmas as I did with family and relatives. Continuing in my quest to get up photos from shows earlier in the year that I haven't had a chance to get up yet, it's a funny coincidence that on Christmas Day, I'm up now to the Jesus and Mary Chain show that I'd attended at the Phoenix Concert Theatre back on August 3rd. I'd been wanting to scratch them off my bucket list for so long and it was well worth the wait as the Jim and William Reid of the band along with their touring band mates played an enticing setlist spanning much of their catalog. Although I'd not known at the time, Mad Men actress Jessica Pare was the band's special guest as she guested on vocals on both "Just Like Honey" and "Sometimes Always", the latter which Jim mentioned they hadn't played that often and therefore felt like an extra special treat for us. At times I closed my eyes and I imagined myself back in high school in the late eighties when I first discovered the band, the sense of nostalgia so overwhelming as I recalled how essential their albums Psychocandy and Darklands. I thought, this is what it is like to see one of your musical heroes after so many years. It was so exhilarating. Kids, when your parents start fawning about the music they used to listen to when they were younger, don't give them to hard of a time about it. You will understand one day.

Check out some of my photos from the show here.

Reviews and / or photos from the show over at Exclaim, Canoe, Wave Maker Magazine and From A High Horse.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sigur Ros @ Echo Beach, Toronto (August 1, 2012)

Jónsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros: photo by Michael Ligon
  Jónsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros: photo by Michael Ligon

Tis' Christmas Eve and with all my presents wrapped and before some of my family and I sit down for a simple Christmas Eve dinner, I thought I'd post a link to my photos from the Sigur Ros show from this past August. Back on August 1st of this year, the Icelandic group Sigur Ros returned to Toronto after a four year wait in support of their sixth studio album, Valtari, released this past May. The venue was the near perfect outdoor summer venue Echo Beach off Lake Ontario on on what turned out to be a beautiful summer night. Alternately epic and overwhelming, and intimate and embryonic, it was a show I've seen before in an indoor setting (Massey Hall) but on a perfect summer night in an outdoor setting made it so much more expansive. Terrific show.

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

Reviews and/or photos of the show over at The Toronto Sun, Blog TO, The National Post, Exclaim, Music Vice, and Chromewaves.

More photos over at Lithium, Beyond The Watch, and the band's website.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sarah Harmer @ Fort York Garrison Common, Toronto (July 14, 2012)

  Sarah Harmer @ Fort York Garrison Common: photo by Michael Ligon

So I've been a bit AWOL lately, but I haven't necessarily been resting on my laurels. (OK, maybe I have been.) And although I've been cutting back on the amount of shows I've been going to compared to previous years, it's not the say I haven't been going to any shows. Like my blogging consistency, the decline in my concert attendance was bound to happen. Generally, I lost interest in new music, but also the novelty of the live show environment was waning for me. Maybe, it's a little bit of an age thing, where the audience seemed to get younger with every new band that came on to the scene. On the other hand, what little wisdom I may have gained over the years has made me realize that while good music continues to flourish, there's precious little of it that I'm really compelled to invest in both financially and time wise. Personally, I felt I needed to step back from the blogging and pursuit of new music, and start listening to music for enjoyment again. But also I needed to step back to focus on other things. I dunno; 2013 may be a different year for me in terms of this blog; maybe I'll rediscover music again. That the world didn't end on December 21 as the Mayans had predicted should be taken as a sign, shouldn't it? Well, that's what I'm taking from it.

Since I'm on Christmas vacation right now, between now and the end of the year I hope to get links up to photos from the shows I've gone to since the summer that I haven't had a chance to yet and then maybe I can start 2013 fresh.

On July 14 of this year, Fort York Garrison Common hosted a free show on a steamy summer night for the Bicentennial Celebration of the War of 1812 featuring Shad, the Rural Alberta Advantage and Alex Cuba and headlined by Sarah Harmer. I made it out only for Sarah and it was an enjoyable, laid back summer set.

More photos here.