TO Jazz Review: Xylopholks, July 3, HMV

Toronto – This was one of the more surreal concert experiences I’ve seen in my time … and the fact that the performers were wearing funny animal suits was one of the less bizarre parts of the afternoon.  First off, the venue itself was strange and they knew it – playing in the corner of a music retailer behind a big Clint Eastwood poster is a bit weird, but to their credit, Xylopholks just rolled with it and enjoyed it.  Laughing between songs, talking to the crowd as they passed in and out during their set (“Is that bubble tea?”  “Ice Cream?  That’s a much better idea than what we’re doing”) and wondering whether it was OK to sell their own EP while playing inside a place that sells music, these guys were having fun and it showed.  And they’re  pretty good musicians too.

Xylopholks play songs from the 1920s ragtime repertoire (as well as a brief snippet of the Inspector Gadget theme) … and yes, they do so while wearing animal costumes.  If you don’t know how to differentiate 1920s ragtime from other forms of music, perhaps Seymour from Ghost World can help you with that.

It was fun, often fast paced, and at times reminded me of the music from the old Looney Tunes cartoons.  I ran into Mark during their set and we both agreed it was pretty good.  But by talking while they played, were we committing concert douchebaggery? Or do those rules fly out the window when the band is playing in front of a display of Star Trek: The Next Generation boxed sets?

Based on their style of performance and various Youtube videos, it seems these guys operate primarily as buskers, which works well for them (other than the fact that they must have been sweating profusely inside those costumes).  Various people stopped by to check them out, some only for a minute or less, but all of them seemed to leave with a smile on their face.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival