Concert Review: Grails, April 28, Sneaky Dee’s

Toronto – I managed to miss every show in the big Godspeed You! Black Emperor marathon this past weekend.  I managed to miss out on the Mogwai show too.  So I figured in order to get my weekly dose of instrumental rock, the Grails show at Sneaky Dee’s was the place to be. 

Opening the show was British guitarist James Blackshaw, who impressed with his intricate guitar picking in a style similar to players like John Fahey or Bert Jansch.  While many in the crowd were watching pretty intently, there were several in the crowd who talked throughout his set.  I understand in a way – he’s the opening act, he’s playing instrumental guitar music that could basically be background music if you’re not paying attention, but these people were relatively close to the stage.  The back area of the bar was a little less packed, so why not go back there?  Or just show up late so you don’t have to watch him. 

Once Grails came onstage, it didn’t really matter if people were talking, as their music has a little more heft to it.  Taking the stage to some kind of creepy amplified breathing sounds, the six piece band displayed their instrumental dexterity from the get-go.  The Portland based group has a sound that borrows from a wide range of influences, melding it all together into something rather impressive.  There were elements of psychedelia, metal, jazz, world music, and film scores (with a few obvious nods to spaghetti westerns in particular), all of it having a very wide scope and expansive feel.  There were a few moments when the audience wasn’t sure if a song had ended and thus didn’t know whether to clap or not and a few other moments when the band seemed to end their songs too abruptly, but nobody in the audience seemed to care that much – most were marvelling at the sounds these guys were making. 

Grails – Almost Grew My Hair by pelecanus_net

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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