Toronto – When we walked into the Wrongbar at 11pm there was already a large, and somewhat weird (in composition) crowd. I thought it was because we had missed Bobby Birdman‘s set (who was interesting on the strength of myspace samples – alas I was delayed by the awesome power of Mass Effect 2). But there was an even weirder girl standing alone on the stage, complete with fuzzy hair and a pair of huge white-rimmed plastic glasses. Being the ignorant snob that I am, my autonomic reflex said: “she’s a stage hand”. And then she stopped playing the intermission dance tunes; brain-churns a bit more: “she’s the DJ”. And then she started to address the crowd, introducing how she’s from Oakland and proceeded to play. Brain bellows: “You pig. She’s the DJ and also MNDR… one of the acts playing tonight. And if you write this into the review everyone will know you are retarded.” Out comes the camera of course for pictures. Let’s put a disclaimer out first: I’m no fan of electro-pop… usually. I really don’t have a lot of reference points to judge her music. To me, it’s very catchy. I’m more impressed with her voice, though, which was bright and dead-on with a synthetic quality. It sounded like we were in the studio listening to the recording just afterward. Ricky reached the conclusion that it took quite some courage to be on that stage alone, dancing to the music before a Toronto crowd that usually nod or foot-tap. So kudos to MNDR for making them exercise a bit, and Wrongbar for covering everything with a London fog at one point. Some of her more recognizable numbers: Fade to black and C.L.U.B.
Bobby Birdman helped on bass for YACHT, who came on around 12:30AM. They were energetic and I guess that was impressive seeing how I am 3 decades old. Jumping around and doing choreographed gestures/moves was a bit fresh compared to most other singing statues. But we’ve seen this type of infectious energy before – Matt and Kim showed us their boundless enthusiasm in a really great lesson in mob psychology last spring at SXSW (where the 6’2″ Texans also check you for guns even though you look like the recoil can snap your arm). YACHT’s Jona Bechtolt has a similar way of buttering up the crowd. On being ask why bandmate Claire is so sexy, the reply goes: “it’s because she’s a mirror, you sexy fiend, you”. Working the 100 or so people like dough, at one point Jona walked to the center of the crowd and asked if everyone would kneel down to his level. Then the band proceeded to run a group healing session… I really want to shout along when he said: “… if you have that professor/boss that you’re working for who’s @#$!#.” If you do not listen to the lyrics, you might find them similar to Matt and Kim. But raise your ear just slightly and words like death, hell, heaven, voodoo, and f*** everything comes into your head. That’s vocabulary that you’d never see holding hands in a park with words like energetic, enthusiastic, and indie-pop music. But maybe that’s the whole point about angst. And also Claire’s Gothic dress code gives it away. It reminds me of when I saw the Nationals – that one song Abel totally did not prepare me for how sorrowful the rest of their music sounds. To bring it back to YACHT, they are lively and coherent on stage and is an interesting band to listen to. Psychic City, the last song at this set, would probably be the definitive sample. But also check out Waste of time (personally the better song) and See a penny pick it up. More pictures following the flickr links above.