Concert Review: Happyness, May 23, The Garrison

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


It’s a bit of a shame that London band Happyness played to a somewhat sparse crowd at the Garrison on Tuesday night – perhaps it was the fact that it was a Tuesday, or that there were several other concert options to choose from throughout the city that night, or maybe it had something to do with the somewhat last minute venue change. Whatever the reason, they put on a solid show regardless, playing a mix of songs from their two full lengths as well as last year’s Tunnel Vision On Your Part EP.

The band is touring behind their new album Write In, which sees them expanding their sound while still retaining the basic core. The Pavement/Wilco/Teenage Fanclub influences heard on their debut Weird Little Birthday are still evident but the new album sees them expanding their sound with a bit more melodicism coming through and a broader range of sounds and influences coming into the mix.

Referring to themselves as three and a half English boys who were far from home, (the “half” being the auxiliary fourth member Paul Abderrahim, who’s French) Happyness focused mostly on the music, leaving the stage banter to a minimum other than a few slightly awkward (though still quite humorous) comments throughout the earlier half of their set. Towards the end though, they opened up a bit more, telling a funny story involving Win Butler and their show in Montreal the previous night before launching into their Butler-referencing set closer “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere.” Apparently they got a bit psyched up when they spotted the Arcade Fire frontman entering the venue and were convinced he was there to check them out. As singer/guitarist/bassist Jon EE Allan put it though, the story ended more like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm than anything else, with Butler apparently leaving five minutes before they took the stage. Oh well. At least they got a cool story out of it.

Concert Review: Valley Queen, Laura Marling, May 10, Danforth Music Hall

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


During their show at the Danforth Music Hall, LA’s Valley Queen made it clear that they were happy to be playing Toronto with singer Natalie Carol noting that not only was this their first time in the city, but that they were playing their first Canadian shows ever as part of their tour with Laura Marling. As a nod to Canada, the band played their cover of Destroyer’s “Painter in Your Pocket.” “I feel like I have an ongoing musical romantic relationship with that dude,” said Carol of Destoyer’s Dan Bejar. “He doesn’t know who I am – that’s fine.”

Valley Queen played an entertaining set of rootsy rock anchored by Carol’s voice, which is somewhat reminiscent of Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan, but without the rasp. Along with the Destroyer cover, one of the more memorable parts of their set was not a song, but a moment near the end of their set when the drummer took out his phone and facetimed with his wife to celebrate their anniversary.

Following them was headliner Laura Marling, who introduced herself with a very unassuming “Hello, my name’s Laura,” as if anybody in attendance didn’t know who she was. Marling and her band performed a typically impressive set made up largely of songs from her latest Semper Femina. Highlights included a solo acoustic mini-set that featured her cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “For the Sake of the Song” and a segment Marling called “band facts,” wherein she introduced the band and had each one state a fact (or tell a joke) such as the fact that humans share 50% of DNA with bananas or that Toronto is the raccoon capital of the world. For her part, Marling had no facts to share, though she did later give a shout out to Toronto, noting that her favourite author, Robertson Davies, once taught at the University of Toronto. She also congratulated us all on having a “fit” Prime Minister and closed out her set with an excellent version of “Rambling Man” off of 2010’s I Speak Because I Can. Before playing that one, Marling informed the crowd that she doesn’t do encores, which may have come as a surprise to those who’d never seen her before, but really, there’s no need for an encore when you end things on such a strong note.

CMW Review: B-17, Zoobombs, April 22, Silver Dollar

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week | Leave a comment


Is is possible to feel nostalgia for something that hasn’t even gone away yet? If so, that would explain why I made the kind of dumb decision to stay out til late night/early morning on the last full night of CMW to take in the last few acts of the night. After all, only nostalgia for the days when a 4:00 am last call and bands playing almost all night long seemed more appealing than an early night in with a good book could explain why I’d be willing to stay out ’til all hours. That and the fact that the Silver Dollar will soon be no more than a memory.

Following sets earlier in the night from Japanese Breakfast, Liam Betson, and others, B-17 took to the stage for the 2:00 am slot. The Toronto psych rockers gave a shout out to Dan Burke for “making this shithole the best place in the city for the past 15 years,” adding that they’ve played “literally hundreds” of shows there over the years. The band ran through a raucous set of tunes from their latest album Goodbye before saying their own goodbye to the Silver Dollar. “Alright this is it. The moment that us as a band don’t play here anymore. You’re gonna feel foolish if you don’t dance.” said singer/bassist Clint Rogerson as he introduced the band’s last song, a fantastic version of The 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” A fitting farewell to the Dollar.

Following them for the last set of the night were Japan’s Zoobombs, the undisputed MVPs of Canadian Music Week. Having already played The Silver Dollar earlier in the week (as well as a couple of other CMW shows elsewhere), the band was back for one more show at their Toronto home. After wishing the crowd a good morning, Don Matsuo added, “This is why we love Toronto. 3 am! Such a crowd. Such a stupid crowd.” He’s got a point – it is a bit stupid to take in a rock show at three in the morning, but they absolutely made it worth our while, and if anything’s going to keep you awake at that time of night, it’s The Zoobombs.

CMW Review: Japanese Breakfast, April 20 & 22, Silver Dollar

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week | Leave a comment


On the first night of their three night residency at the Silver Dollar, Japanese Breakfast put on a thoroughly entertaining show, playing various tracks from their latest, Psychopomp, along with a number of new songs from the band’s upcoming album, reportedly due out this summer and described by Michelle Zauner as a failed concept album. Of the new stuff, the best of the bunch was the closing number, a song about falling in love with a robot that featured a spoken word intro and autotune effects throughout. As sci-fi concepts go, it puts the band in the company of the likes of ELO or The Alan Parsons Project, which is a good thing in my books.

That first show was impresive enough that I ventured out a couple of days later for their final night at the Silver Dollar and while the setlist was similar, featuring favourites such as “In Heaven” and “Everybody Wants To Love You” (“This song is about oral sex. Pay attention.”) as well as the aforementioned robot love song, the band also ended their set with a version of The Cranberries’ “Dreams,” described by Zauner as “a cover for the old people.”

Earlier that night, Zauner gave a shoutout to opener Liam Betson, who she referred to as her favourite Toronto musician. “Drake is my second favourite,” she added, describing how she tries to imitate his swagger, specifically the way he calls audience members out with an “I see you.” While she claimed she wasn’t at that level yet since she gets too shy, Zauner is nevertheless an engaging, energetic frontwoman, commanding the crowds’ attention.

Though Zauner admitted that it was “a lot of pressure to play three shows in the same place,” it was clear that by the end of their three night run, the band had made a memorable impact. Mentioning how they had come through twice before as an opening act at the Horseshoe, she asked if anyone there that night had been to those shows. “Thank you for coming out again,” she said. “It’s our time to fucking shine.”

I couldn’t agree more.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 413 414   Next »