Concerts

Concert Review: Sloan, December 1, The Phoenix

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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While they’ve been going strong since 1991, it’s been a while now since I last saw Sloan play live – I almost feel like I’ve been taking the band for granted over the years. But Sloan have caught my attention and managed to pique my curiosity again with their solid new album 12, so I took Saturday night’s show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre as an opportunity to finally end my Sloan hiatus. And the band did not disappoint, reminding me of everything I liked about them in the first place.

After taking to the stage to the strains of the “Pinball Number Count” song from Sesame Street, the band kicked things off with the jolt of pure power pop energy that is “Spin Our Wheels,” the first single off the new album. While older songs like “Losing California”, “The Other Man” and “I Hate My Generation” were definite crowd pleasers, the new material ended up making for some of the highlights of the evening – other standouts from among the new stuff included “Essential Services” and “The Day Will Be Mine,”a crunchy little number that feels like a bit of a callback to the band’s Smeared days.

Over the course of the night, the band would go on to play almost all of 12 during their two sets, as well as several of the hits and also a few rarities, the rarest of which was “Step On It, Jean,” a non-album track which they put out around 2003. Definitely a bit of a deep cut, but as Chris Murphy explained, “We’re a cult band so we can play whatever we like.” Fair enough.

“Now I’ve gotta go on the drums and suck,” joked Murphy after finishing up that track, although he was clearly being a bit modest. The band then did their usual switch-up to give drummer Andrew Scott the opportunity to step away from the kit and take the lead on “Gone for Good” (one of the strongest tracks off the new album with its mellow, proggy, folk-rock vibe) and “People Of The Sky.” Murphy would later go on to joke about how this was essentially a hometown show for the band. “It’s our hometown show even though we’re a Halifax band. But how often did the Beatles go back to Liverpool?”

While some might quibble with the omission of some of the band’s bigger hits (“Money City Maniacs”, “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” and “Underwhelmed” were a few that stood out in their absence), the band’s focus on the new stuff highlighted what a strong album 12 really is and proved that they’re still at the top of their game. Sloan may have started out their set singing “There’s only so much time we can kill here before we start to spin our wheels” but despite being around for nearly three decades, Saturday night’s show proved that Sloan are most certainly not just killing time and spinning their wheels and that after 27 years as a band they’ve become a well oiled rock and roll machine.

Concert Review: Tengger Cavalry, November 23, Hard Luck Bar

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Tengger Cavalry are a New York based band that mixes metal with the sounds of traditional Mongolian folk music. Fronted by Nature Ganganbaigal, the band has been going since 2010 and have been making a bit of a name for themselves in recent years, even playing a show at Carnegie Hall back in 2015. The band’s current tour, which sees them splitting things up into a more “acoustic” set followed by a full on metal set, saw them taking the stage at Hard Luck Bar on Friday night.

With all of that in mind, I was slightly confused when I walked in shortly after the band had started the opening set to find them playing music that was far from acoustic and didn’t quite seem like the more traditional take on Mongolian folk music I expected. I wondered if maybe I’d been misinformed and these dudes were just skipping to the metal from the get go. After all, every member of the band was already sleeveless – how much more metal could they get? The next number however, veered much closer to traditional sounding, though they still mixed it up a bit throughout the set, even throwing an improvised blues jam into the mix. “We’ll see how it sounds on this instrument,” said Ganganbaigal, referring to the morin khuur, a traditional Mongolian instrument that he played throughout the night.

While the acoustic set was not really acoustic at all, the band’s main set delivered exactly what was expected – the morin khuur and the throat singing stuck around, but the distortion got turned way up, the death growls came out to play, and everything in general got much, much heavier. And the moshing started up, almost right from the beginning of the first song, something Ganganbaigal said he’s always appreciated about Toronto crowds, going back to the first show they ever played here. The crowd was definitely enjoying themselves and the band in turn were enjoying the crowd, so much so that when the crowd started chanting for one more song after the band finished their final song, they returned for an unplanned encore and played … a song they had already played that evening. A little odd perhaps, but no one seemed to mind at all and the crowd continued to go wild as they ran through the tune once more. All in all, Tengger Cavalry put on a fun and unique show, even if I do have to question their definition of the term “acoustic.”

Concert Review: Christine And The Queens, November 5, Danforth Music Hall

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

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With a simply fantastic show, Christine and the Queens danced and sang their way straight to the heart of everyone at the Danforth Music Hall on Monday night. Christine and The Queens is a French singer who first rose to popularity a few years ago with the song “Tilted” and you may or may not have seen videos of her performance on The Graham Norton Show which kinda went viral, I think

Anyways, it’s been a few years and Christine and the Queens recently released a new record – Chris. The record, chalk full of intensely personal songs set to extremely danceable ’80s dance beats, has been a hit everywhere.

A sold out and rabid crowd greeted Héloïse Letissier and her dancers as they took the stage shortly after 9:00 and for the next 90 minutes we were treated to show with relentless energy and heart. Christine and the Queens made great use of Letissier’s musical theatre background throughout the night, using dance and lighting to emphasize each song and frankly, made the show visually captivating the whole time. It would be easy for the show to thread into musical territory but it didn’t, thanks to a good mix of fast paced songs, casual friendly banter and powerful solo ballad that showed off her voice.

The highlights of course, were the hits – “Tilted”, “5 Dollars”, “Girlfriend” and “Doesn’t Matter” had many people moving. I would actually say the highlight was the whole show. It was creative, energizing and she is so endearing that it actually warms your heart. A great thing on a cold, dark night.

PS. If you haven’t heard CATQ talk about the song “Doesn’t Matter” on the podcast Song Exploder, make sure to check it out.

Concert Review: Jeen, November 1, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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Jeen‘s stage banter was rather timely during her Thursday night show at the Horseshoe, making reference at one point to the recent legalization of cannabis. “Everyone smoking more pot?” she asked before adding, “All I know is it’s completely messed up my purchasing.” It’s not like Jeen was revealing any big secret about herself though – “Medicate Me”, a song off of the Toronto singer’s latest album which she’s described as “an ode to introverts,” touches on the topic of marijuana and “weed therapy.”

That new album, Gift Shop, was mixed by Toronto music legend Ian Blurton, who also lent his talents as a member of Jeen’s live band. I’ll admit Blurton’s involvement was a bit of a draw for me – the guy’s always entertaining to see live – although he kept things relatively subdued and kept any of his trademark shredding to a minimum. And while he did let loose on occasion, the focus for the night was squarely on the songs themselves.

And Jeen’s songs sounded pretty good, despite her announcement at the outset that she couldn’t really hear anything in her monitor. “We’ll just go with the flow,” she said, and that flow took Jeen and her band through a series of songs that ran the gamut from the danceable “Won’t Be Long Now” to the driving rock of “Any Moment” and set highlight “Pull Out Your Knives.” All in all, a show worth leaving the house for on a rainy Thursday night.

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