Concert Review: Slow Pulp, Babehoven, November 7, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

Photo by Frank Yang

“Hello Toronto, how we doing? We’re Slow Pulp. We’ve got some songs for you.”

And with that unassuming introduction, Slow Pulp launched into their set, starting things off with “Slugs” and proving that yes, they did indeed have some songs for us. Some pretty good ones too.

Touring behind their latest album Yard, the Chicago-based indie rockers played a solid set for a sold out crowd at the Horseshoe Tavern, with tunes like “Cramp”, “Broadview” and the aforementioned “Slugs” standing out as highlights and showcasing the band’s songcraft.

Slow Pulp has a sound indebted to ’90s indie rock with a touch of country/folk influence, a trait they share with their tourmates Babehoven, whose singer Maya Bon joined them onstage for a song. For their part, Babehoven also put on an impressive performance which inspired me to delve deeper into their catalogue.

Slow Pulp singer Emily Massey took a moment later in their set to give a shout out to the venue, noting that it was fun to walk into the ‘Shoe earlier in the day as it reminded her a bit of Twin Peaks, describing it as being like a cross between The Red Room and The Roadhouse. An interesting observation, and one that, as a Twin Peaks fan, sent my mind off on a tangent at that moment, as I imagined a scene where the crowd fades away and The Man from Another Place appears on the Horseshoe’s famous checkerboard floor to do a weird little soft shoe for a bit to the sweet sounds of Slow Pulp.

Such thoughts, however, quickly passed and soon I came back to reality and was able to enjoy the rest of the show without any distractions. I was, however, left with a craving for a piece of pie and some damn good coffee …

Concert Review: The Lonesome Ace Stringband, The Engineers, November 1, Tranzac Club

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

Veterans of the Toronto bluegrass scene, John Showman, Chris Coole and Max Heineman have been playing around the city for years now, having appeared regularly at both the Silver Dollar Room’s bluegrass nights and the Dakota Tavern’s bluegrass brunch shows. Together, they make up The Lonesome Ace Stringband, a group that’s put out five albums and played a whole lot of shows since their inception in 2007. And on Wednesday night, they played an album release show at the Tranzac in honour of their latest, Try To Make It Fly.

Opening the show were a band that had been specifically formed for the sole purpose of playing this very show – The Engineers. The brand new band was comprised of Gavin Gardiner, Andrew Collins and Jason Mercer, the three recording engineers who worked on the new album, assembled Avengers-style by Lonesome Ace just for this occasion.

“We’re a boy band they put together” said Gardiner, joking that they wrote the songs earlier that afternoon and then recorded them all too. In fact, aside from a Bob Dylan cover, the songs were mostly ones Gardiner had written for his old band The Wooden Sky as well as one from his latest project, Moon River. Before playing that tune, he took a minute to plug his new band a bit more, noting that they have their own album release show coming up and also noting that everyone in the band was wearing Moon River shirts. And though Gardiner added that there weren’t any shirts at the merch table, mandolinist Collins joked that we could buy the shirts off their backs if we wanted.

Following The Engineers, Lonesome Ace Stringband took to the stage and performed a solid set that showcased both their instrumental prowess and their impressive harmonies. Focusing on the new album, the band played a selection of songs from throughout their discography, with Showman noting that they made up their setlist about five minutes before they started playing. And though they’d been touring for a couple of weeks playing more or less the same songs every night, Showman noted that this setlist looked a bit different from what they’d been playing on tour.

“It’s gonna be great though. I can tell.”

“It is great!” someone in the audience shouted in response. She was right, this was indeed a great show. While many of the highlights, such as “The Echo”, “Smoke On The Shoulder” and “Simply Going Sideways”, came from the new album, other memorable moments came from older songs like “Fool’s Gold” and their cover of Brennan Leigh’s “Only Other Person in the Room” as well as any of the fiddle tunes that Showman led the band through.

The band closed out their main set with “Sweeter Sound” before returning to play a couple more songs as an encore, but that song, the opening track on the new album, does make for a fairly apt descriptor of the entire evening as the band definitely made some pretty sweet sounds up on that stage.

Concert Review: Morton Subotnick, October 27, Al Green Theatre

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

The show starts at first with silence, followed by the sound of a single breath. Then another.

And so began the performance of electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick‘s latest piece, entitled As I Live and Breathe. An appropriate title as the bulk of the piece was made up of the sounds of Subotnick’s own breath and various other vocal utterances spoken into the mic and then, through some sort of synthesizer magic, transformed into something else entirely.

Billed as Subotnick’s final live performance in Canada, this was a unique and memorable show, with the 90 year old synth legend joined onstage by Berlin media artist Lillevan, who provided live video accompaniment during the set.

Starting out slowly, the music evolved throughout, beginning as an ambient drone before building to an epic and cathartic release in its final moments, with Lillevan’s visuals acting as a perfect accompaniment.

I overheard someone saying afterwards that they felt like they’d been transported to another world during the show and that’s as good a way as any to put it. Simply put, this was a brilliant performance.

Concert Review: Bell Witch, October 22, Trinity St. Paul’s

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


It may seem odd and maybe even a little wrong to see a metal band called Bell Witch play a show at a church, but it many ways, it was a fitting pairing of band and venue. On Sunday night, Bell Witch put on a performance that was heavy, beautiful, and cinematic, with a sound that seemed somehow appropriate for a venue that regularly plays host to classical music concerts. Though not quite in the same ballpark musically speaking, Bell Witch’s performance set a mood not entirely unlike to what I’d imagine one might find at those classical performances.

Touring behind their latest, the recently released Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate, the Seattle-based doom metal duo put on a compelling performance of the album at Trinity St. Paul’s. That album is made up of a single album-length track and their performance for each show of this tour consists entirely of that one single track, which on this occasion lasted for roughly an hour and 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes.

One nice thing about going to see a band touring behind an album that’s just one epic song is that you know going in exactly what you’ll be hearing. And what we heard this evening was fantastic – an epic, slowly unfolding piece which approached a kind of transcendence at times.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 497 498   Next »