Concert Review: Au Revoir Simone, Alexa Wilding, July 15, Great Hall

Au Revoir Simone, July 2010, Great Hall

Toronto – After Wednesday’s night Titus Andronicus man-fest, I was quite ready for something different. That something different came in the form of Au Revoir Simone and Alexa Wilding, both part of a triple bill at the Great Hall on Thursday night. We arrived just before the second act – Alexa Wilding came on. Alexa Wilding is a folk singer songwriter from New York who just recently released a self titled EP. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, she casually took the stage with a pretty smile and instantly encouraged the crowd to move in a little closer.

One of the things I notice right away was her comfort level and confidence on stage – it must be tough to perform solo in front of a sparse crowd (especially a chatty Queen west crowd), but Alexa didn’t let that stop her one bit. Alexa’s voice filled the room with each of her tracks, mostly about characters in New York or missing New York. She even mentioned that she was from New York a few times, but took the time out to stress that Canada is like America but better. It might have been a ploy to get support from the crowd, but crowds are easy and it definitely worked. She has the cute girl on stage thing down – charming banter and frequently thanking the crowd for coming out. Halfway through the half hour set, she switched to keyboards for a few tracks, as depicted by my photo below:

Alexa Wilding, Great Hall, 2010

She would then take back the acoustic guitar for the final tracks before leaving to a pretty good response. Alexa has a sweet voice that sometimes reminds me of those late night infomercials where there’s some girl trying to entice you to call some 900 number for “good times”. Either way, with her voice and strumming skills, I am interested to see where her talents take her. I can totally see a song like Black Diamond Day on some CW teen drama show during montage where the characters are in a time of sadness or reflection.

Alexa Wilding – Black Diamond Day by Myles Crawley

After a short break, Au Revoir Simone took the stage. By now the crowd had somewhat filled up and was maybe half full, although they did not open up the second floor seating area. This led to a conversation with Wade about whether Au Revoir Simone was just a band that’s popular on the internet and not popular in real life, much like how in Halo 3, I can hit someone in mid air with a sniper rifle, but probably can’t do that in real life. We didn’t really come to any sort of conclusion though.

Armed with a cymbal, a tambourine, a couple egg shakers, a drum machine and a whole lot of synthesizers, the three ladies from Brooklyn proceeded to take us through their dream pop landscape, where the land is littered with three way harmonics, low key drum beats, random percussions and many layers of synthy keyboard work. I am not that good with song titles but I would likely conclude they played most of the tracks off their 2009 record Still Night, Still Light including Take Me As I Am, All or Nothing and Anywhere You Looked. As they plowed through their set list, I was surprised at how many of their songs I recognized. I must have listened to the album more then I realized, always a pleasant surprise. Those who aren’t familiar with their material might get a case of the sameys, as a lot of their tracks off that album follow a very distinct Au Revoir Simone Template – beats, harmonics and synth. Actually at one point, Annie Hart started singing a song following the initial drum beat, but she sang the wrong song, and then just mused “They all have very similar drum beats!”. It was funny, but upon reflection, might be a sign that perhaps the band should look at the sounds they are producing and try to do something a bit different for the next record.

I enjoyed the record and I enjoyed the show, it was a low key affair and the band seemed to have a good time as usual and that happiness always permeates into the crowd. A charming rendition of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer ended off the set. I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t end up doing their cover of Friendly Fire‘s Paris live though, especially since the remixers who did that version (Aeroplane) was playing just down the street.

If Wednesdays night Titus Andronicus concert was a journey through the working class swamps of New Jersey, filled with broken beer bottles, sweaty men and a dose of reality, then Thursdays night Au revoir Simone and Alexa Wilding show could be classified as the exact opposite. A dreamy midsummer walk through a secretive luscious green park hidden somwhere in Brooklyn where cute girls in retro summer dresses frolick about with out a care in the world.

Au Revoir Simone – Another Likely Story (Aeroplane remix) by Deepdim

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

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Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.