Concerts

Locked-down SXSW Review: Homecoming -The Journey of Cardboard (Yuko Shiomaki/Anna Thorson Mayer)

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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With the cancellation of this year’s SXSW, many of the films scheduled to screen there were suddenly left without a platform. In lieu of a proper screening, several of the short films officially selected for the 2020 SXSW Episodic Pilot Competition have been made available to screen via Vimeo. Below we review one of those films, Homecoming – The Journey of Cardboard.

Unlike the Mona Lisa or those fucking shiny balloon dogs that look like the Bean multiplied itself while rollicking in its daughters’ metallic-colored piss, your overlooked life is just as important in the daily struggle of our planet. So, where you came from could theoretically matter. And if a lack of narration from Henry Louis Gates Jr. over your ancestry is the high-water mark of failure in your life, consider the trillions upon trillions of other inanimate objects that are similarly un-celebrated. Yes. You are as useless as I myself, and will be sorted right below CARDBOARD, of all things, in the grand Excel spreadsheet listed by decreasing importance.

Except that cardboard, unlike you and I, has a newfound voice. To honor the origins of something as profound as a grapefruit carton, a Japanese reclaimed-cardboard wallet maker tries to bring his material back to its Floridian hometown for a “blessing” of sorts. Replace Dr. Gates’ baritone with that of a contemporary graphics artist dosed with a penchant for ultra-specificity, and the transformation from Finding Your Roots to a very Japanese documentary short is complete. Fuyuki Shimazu’s celebration of the mundane is not unexpected in the age of sub-sub-sub-reddits. Enveloped by oceans of potential knowledge, we are almost encouraged to diversify and become passionately focused in one thing and make irrelevant everyone else’s interests. Only, when you dig further, you find that “someone else is ALSO and ALREADY interested in this shit!?” So we reach for combinatorial esotericism: “Only I am expert on the turquoise crane hawk in the cliffs north of Tonga AND the blue hawking crane of Eastern Seychelles”. This isn’t, of course, a commentary on this short, which is warm and reverent.

But on a facile reflection: should he switch to making cardboard face masks and ventilator bellows, will it make us appreciate the world even more? When the universal units of gravitas have changed, you quickly find everything soaring or crashing on a tornado of an Excel list, which is an indication of how important the list really was in the first place.

Concert Review: Ali Barter, March 9, Drake Hotel

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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A few songs into Ali Barter‘s set at The Drake on Monday night, an enthusiastic fan shouted out, “So good!” Barter’s response was to tell us all that So Good is the name of a brand of soy milk in Australia, and he in turn took this as an opportunity to tell Barter about bags of milk. Sure, why not.

I guess since they were on the general topic of consumer goods, Barter also noted that there’s no more toilet paper in Australia, clearly a comment on the current coronavirus outbreak which has led to people panic buying mass quantities of TP.

While stockpiling toilet paper certainly seems like an overreaction, a similar abundance of caution has also resulted in the much more understandable yet still disappointing cancellation of next week’s SXSW festival and conference, which in turn has left touring musicians like Barter with a SXSW-shaped hole in their schedules.

Touring behind her latest album, Hello, I’m Doing My Best (which is, in fact, so good – that guy wasn’t wrong), Barter was in good spirits despite the setback and was quite happy to be in Toronto to play her first ever Canadian show. Though she was only here for a short while before going back to the U.S. for a few more shows, she promised she’d be back. And like many touring musicians, she polled the crowd on exactly how one should pronounce our fair city’s name, finally settling on “Tronno.”

Barter ran through most of the new album with highlights including “Backseat”, “History Of Boys” and a solo performance of “January” (which we wrote about here). She introduced that song by talking about how much she generally hates the month of January. “It seems like the promise of a new year, but by the end of the month you’re the same old fuckhead,” she said, before adding, “Let’s get depressed” and launching into the song.

Another memorable number was “Ur A Piece Of Shit,” which she described as “a love song” that she wrote for her friends. Both that song and “January” exemplify what’s good about Barter’s songwriting – she writes about the stuff one can go through while growing as a person and dealing with your issues, all of it with a touch of humour at times and set to some very catchy tunes reminiscent of ’90s/early 2000s indie and alt rock sounds. I’ll take that over soy milk any day.

Concert Review: The Strokes, March 5, Rogers Arena, Vancouver

Posted on by Martin Alldred in Concerts | Leave a comment

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The Strokes played Vancouver last night for the first time in several years, and the city was ready for the New York five piece to return.

Well, at least half an Arena full of people were ready for them to return. The upper bowl at Rogers Arena was closed, but to be fair to a garage band who don’t put on a spectacular large venue show, the fact that they are playing an Arena shows how well regarded they are by so many.

They play a mix of Strokes songs from throughout the ages, including a good few from their iconic and genre defining debut This Is It, including “Someday”, “Soma”, “Hard to Explain” and “Take It Or Leave It.” The audience lap it up. When singer Julian Casablancas meanders around the stage, tipping over the monitors in a nonchalant manner and generally looking disinterested, the crowd remain undeterred by his lack of enthusiasm and stage presence. The mosh pit remained for every song, even the new ones, but expanded greatly for the early songs, as you’d expect. Even a slow improvised riffing ‘song’, three quarters of the way through the set, goes down well.

It seems throughout that the band would prefer to be playing a smaller indie-rock venue, intimate and cool. But they are of a size where that will never really happen again, unless they want to spend two weeks in every city they play to meet demand.

The last song, “Reptilia”, is epic. Crowd surfers fly over people’s heads. Many of those further back get their phones out and record it so they can enjoy the moment later, rather than enjoying it in the here and now.

The encore culminates in arguably the greatest low-fi indie song of the century,”Last Night.” Things get messy down the front, security look tense, but everyone survives. The Strokes were once widely considered to be one of the greatest bands on the planet – they are no longer that, but the sound they create together is as good live in 2020 as it was on record at the start of the 21st Century.

SXSW Song Of The Day: Sports Team – Here’s The Thing

Posted on by Paul in Song of the Day, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Here’s the thing – SXSW is set to begin in just a little over one week and among the many bands that will be playing there is London’s Sports Team.

Here’s another thing – “Here’s The Thing,” the latest single from Sports Team’s full length debut Deep Down Happy, is a very good song.

With lines such as “if you work a little harder, you’ll get by”, “if your parents worked to earn it, then it’s yours”, “if you’re barely getting by, then that’s your fault” and “you’re worth as much as all the luxury you buy”, the song takes a satirical look at a certain type of thinking that we generally might see offered up as bits of homespun ‘wisdom’ but which ultimately end up being “just lies lies lies lies.” Check it out below.

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