Concert Review: Foxes in Fiction, August 12, Tiger Bar

I have a very soft place in my enlarged heart for start-up musicians (and I suppose at some point, everyone is a start-up). Call me the equivalent of a patron-of-the-arts Flo Nightingale — there is something I can’t quite resist about people fiddling around in their parents’ houses, eventually graduating to blogosphere public release, and a gig at a dive bar. They might be the next big thing, and they might not. Life is full of randomness, and the thing I like about these music makin’ kids is that such successes or failures seem irrelevant, because either way there is some force within them that is compelling them towards creative expression. There’s a purity in that goal that I find refreshing because it is the very definition of artistic innocence.

Foxes in Fiction‘s Warren Hildebrand fits this bill to a tee, so it should come as no surprise that I was willing to slug it out on a late Thursday night. I wanted to see what this kid was all about, seeing as he’s garnered some attention from Pitchfork (an accomplishment that the relentless show promoter would not let go, but hey, he bought me a beer, so maybe I should let go of the fact that he sounded like he was promoting a liquidation sale in Brampton), and seems to be an all-round nice kid.

I have to admit though, I very much lamented the space that he had to play in. I don’t know if any of you have had the pleasure of going to Tiger Bar (whose name seems counterproductive, seeing as the upstairs part has a bar as well, though at least the bartender here actually responds to you when you call–more than I can say for the dickwad upstairs), but it evokes the feeling of standing in someone’s dodgy basement. Plastic lawn chairs are scattered everywhere, there is garden latticework stapled to the ceiling, and a smell that competes with the Boat’s overwhelming mustiness. On top of that, there is the serious design flaw of having the bar’s supply room smack dab in the centre of the stage, a feature that poor Warren had to compete with throughout his set.

As for the set itself, it started off pretty rockily. Warren is a one-man show, and I sincerely hope he reconsiders this set-up as he progresses, because as our friends from Zaza have commented, requiring one person to play a bajillion different band instruments eventually becomes akin to, “dancing around like a clown onstage”. The first song in his set started off with an oddly long sample that I think was supposed to sound like the beach, but maybe it was wind blowing (there were a couple of instances in which his sample was offbeat his actual guitar playing). Either way, I wasn’t sure what I had committed myself to despite liking the three songs I had skimmed beforehand. But soon after he started in on his guitar, I quickly realized that we had a homegrown next generation Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound) on our hands.

You would think that I of all people would be receptive to any musician overly derivative of Coxy, and I am. It’s just that so many of the songs I had heard played on the du-woppy flavor of songs like Walkabout (Atlas Sound’s collaboration with Panda Bear), I was left wondering if the kid had any individual musical range whatsoever.  He proved me wrong with his last couple of songs, though. One called Rainfall particularly stood out, which he awkwardly dedicated to his friend Ryan. His entire family was in attendance as well, and boy were they ever conspicuous. His mother, grandmother, and siblings attended with a carafe of red wine they were all sharing. Warren even dedicated a song to his “Nana”, and I can’t lie. That warmed the cockles of my heart (the support he enjoyed from his family almost made up for the fact that the band that went on before him were obnoxiously talking throughout his entire set).

I generally give a thumbs-up to the music. You can listen for yourself by downloading the album for free here, but as the Pitchfork review brings across, this is basically more or less an extension of Atlas Sound’s Logos. In terms of the actual stage presence / connection with the audience, I felt the kid was shortchanged. There were only about 15 people in the audience, many of whom I’m certain were personal friends, acquaintances, or blood relatives. In spite of his incredibly stilted awkwardness, he did make some attempts to reach out and touch something only to be met with a fistful of air.

All I can say to young Warren is that I see a lot of potential here. Keep your nose clean, keep making music you love, practice in public, stay humble, and give everyone reason to believe in what you’re doing beyond riding the Pitchfork wave. I want to see another B. Cox, not another Nathan Williams (Wavves).

Posted on by Allison in Albums, Concerts, Everything, Music, Reviews

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14 Responses to Concert Review: Foxes in Fiction, August 12, Tiger Bar

  1. Yashima Connor

    Where to start.

    I also dragged myself out Thursday night (my only night off work), looking to go out and satisfy my craving for beef jerky. During the trek i stumbled across a flyer for the event and i thought, why not.

    I had come across Foxes In Fiction’s Myspace a couple months back, so i was semi-pleased to have previously heard his recordings.

    I stuck around into the late hours of the night so i could see what his live set is all about, and if he could live up to his raving reviews.

    What is the verdict? Inspiring, Inventive, Creative, & Beautiful. Definitely worth my $10, I left the venue in auditory bliss.

    Aside from the description of the interior design, i felt everything i read here was completely inaccurate.

    I’m not a friend, or a fan (maybe I will be now) but i was very impressed. There isn’t exactly a plentiful amount of 20 year old’s from Toronto tearing up the experimental pop scene all over the the world, as it would seem.

    As for the comparison with Bradford Cox…. Maybe if there was more focus the set, and less to the Decor, we would have a clearer
    understanding of what was going on. Although they have similar styles, i felt no comparison was needed to be made other than fantasizing about a future collaboration.

    As for the announcer, I did hear him mention Pitchfork several times which was a bit annoying, but
    I can’t blame him, Warren rocks!

    I also did some shallow research on Warren, he began making this style of music shortly after the Death of his brother in 2008, so you would find that his one and only sibling(s) were NOT there. Which is very tasteless statement and assumption for you to make.

    Overall, upon reading this article i was a little pissed off, this is probably why you do not write for Pitchfork. Think before you blog.

  2. James P.

    While I generally agree with the praising points of this review, you really made this show out to seem like a pretty sad affair. The amount of conduct and coordination he displayed is barely touched upon in this write up. I can confidently say Warren’s performance was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

  3. Cherpe

    Foxes in fiction > this review.

  4. Yashima Connor

    I had wrote my opinion earlier but apparently some people can’t take the heat!

    This article was awful.

  5. Allison

    Pitchfork wishes it had the same caliber of bloggers as the PM.

    While I admit I rarely cover shows that small, I have seen better. Yashima Connor, I guess you are accustomed to folks writing a 250 word diatribe in response to your shiz. All I can say is that “Inspiring, Inventive, Creative, & Beautiful.” is an over-the-top assessment. Not saying I didn’t enjoy the music, but that is just one element of what makes up a good show.

    Who knows, he might surprise me and develop some showmanship like the Antlers did.

  6. c, simmons

    Wow!!! maybe you should change what you do for a living. If all you have to focus on is what this young man’s family was drinking, why come at all. Would you have them sit at the back of the room and not show any support at all.? From what I understand that this musician has been through in the last couple of years since his brother was killed at age 16, I think it is amazing that he has created this sound from his studio apartment. I was at the show– I wish there has been more people there to hear him. I think he may be still a bit shy but I think he has a uniqueness that will make itself heard.
    If you can’t just enjoy his sound and not be concerned about what people are drinking , maybe you should change your beat to following Paris Hilton around to see if she is wearing underwear.

  7. Allison

    Studio apartment, carafe of red wine, these details are irrelevant (and I am not on social assistance, writing for this blog professionally, as I am amazed some people assume).

    Did not know about the brother’s death, but how should that have impacted my enjoyment of the show? This is not an album review; it’s a show review. A show review ought to be an overall measurement of quality of music, and most importantly, connection with audience. I am not disputing the former as much as I am the latter, which to me, is the thing that should be getting someone to drop their $ into the box to see someone perform.

    Considering the age and performance experience of Mr. Hildebrand, I’m not dismissing him. But he’s not quite there yet in the live arena.

  8. Paul

    Allison, maybe you should change your beat to following Paris Hilton around to see if she’s wearing underwear. I, for one, would totally read that.

  9. Allison

    In other news today, Paris Hilton was caught wearing edible pasties in her lady bits.

  10. edededededed

    if he sucks he should improve. if he doesn’t suck he should improve anyways. what he shouldn’t do is listen to either pitchfork or you. all manner of opinion is a poison, disregard is the antidote.

  11. aber

    I made a short trek around the corner from my house to check out Warren play his live set. I have to admit I think Allison’s review is somewhat accurate. Some musicians are better in the studio< which doesn't make them any less talented. Pulling off a live show as a one man act is a tough job, and Warren is a brave soul to get up there and give it his all. I was front row amongst the 20 people there and I did enjoy his set. Parts of it were shaky though, and the vocals were muddy at best. Still, I'd check him out again because like Allison was saying there's certainly something there. I like his shy manner, I think that's something he could play off of. Imagine him in 10 years…
    Anyway, the fierce rebuttals from the tiger bar groove regulars should keep in mind Allison does this for a job, and she described the gig quite well. Fuck Pitchfork!

  12. Allison

    Hey aber, guess we are on the same page. Just to clarify though, this is in no way a professional gig for me. Just do it to discover new music.

    You have articulated what I think my biggest misalignment with the show was. The one-man aspect. You’re right in that it’s a very ballsy thing to do (Fyfe Dangerfield can confirm this), but ultimately that loss of interaction seems out of sync with any sort of layered music (I guess Johnny Cash’s prison shows might be exempt from this category). As I said before, I think he has a lot of potential.

    Since the interest in Foxes in Fiction is surprisingly…robust, I think I’m going to write a review about the album.

  13. wasn't in attendance

    Wow, please don’t review his album. You clearly know nothing much about music at all, outside the realm of comparisons and object names.

    “He has a sample, he has a guitar, he has an audience, there is a venue, the crowd made noise, here are some names, what is a family? (will I ever have one of my own?)”

    Honestly, this review is the biggest tripe I’ve read. There are plenty of ‘pitchfork’ artists performing in Toronto, so why should you be so amazed that in a blogging world, you blogger, that the big blog blogged him before you? Is it a little threatening knowing that them big guns still get thur first?

    You entered into this article, and concluded it with the hope and slight concern that this next best thing might not make the cut. I’m sure when you wrote this article hadn’t actually interviewed the boy at any point in time so.. Warren has performed with other musicians. He had a band, it didn’t suit him. The band disbanded. So there, great journalistic show here, research and all, what is it good for.

    Sounds like this whole article was written under an SEO condition.
    Maybe if I link pitchfork one more time my name will climb the google charts. Well it did and in time you might feel the yeasty burn.

    all the best
    Christine a.d.

  14. clay

    when you review a concert, you really should try to write about how the music sounds.

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