Concert Review: New Order and Pet Shop Boys, Sept 17, Budweiser Stage

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I mean, what a show right?

To say people were excited for the double bill of New Order and Pet Shop Boys would be an understatement. I arrived at Budweiser Stage area around 5:00 so that my friends and I could do some public drinking before entering the venue, which charges a nice 18 bucks for a big tall boy of beer. Even then, there was a gigantic lineup already waiting to enter the venue. This was by all means, a super show – two heavyweights that ushered in electronic music in the UK in the ’80s uniting for one giant show. Either of them probably could have played Budweiser Stage on their own (New Order played there before the Pandemic) but together, it was going to be a NIGHT.

At 7:25, the nostalgic sounds of “Surburbia” started up and Pet Shop Boys took the stage. Playing under two “streetlights”, the duo quickly got the people moving and kept the momentum going throughout. This was a greatest hits party – making full use of the gigantic stage, PSB played behind a very large screen, projecting different images and designs to each of their songs. Around halfway through, the screens lifted to reveal a very energetic live band. Neil Tennant sounded great and his voice seems to not have aged since the ’80s.

The highlights of PSB’s set, for me anyway, were “Always On My Mind”, “Domino Dancing” and “It’s a Sin” but really, it just depends on what your personal fave is. Kinda sad they didn’t play “Go West” but considering they had a nice 1:40 to play, they were quite economical.

After a short Paul Oakenfold-revisiting-the-early-90s DJ set break of 20 minutes, the night’s headliner (I believe they alternate each night) took the stage

Starting with “Regret,” New Order’s set was just banger after banger. The crowd was joyous and singing along to every song. New Order’s light show game has really gone up in quality from the first time I saw them and it definitely added to the show. Having blue lights pulsating during the “Blue Monday” intro added to the experience and made you feel like you were in a really large night club for 40+ adults.

New Order ended the set with the following

Bizarre Love Triangle
True Faith
Blue Monday
Love Will Tear Us Apart.

I mean, how can you not be elated after that? There are no complaints about the show; whatever musical weaknesses that the bands may have had, nostalgia filled in. It was a fantastic 3.5 hours and if you have a chance to see this tour, pony up the cash and grab some tickets.

Concert Review: Sylvaine, September 16, Opera House

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Friday night saw Norway’s Sylvaine (not to be confused with the late Sylvain Sylvain or, for that matter, David Sylvian) taking to the stage at The Opera House alongside Imperial Triumphant and Zeal & Ardor.

A charming frontwoman who took the time during her set to tell the story behind some of the songs, Sylvaine, aka Kathrine Shepard, introduced herself and her bandmates as being “from Europe” adding that they come from Norway, France and Germany, but Sylvaine is really Shepard’s brainchild. A classically trained multi-instrumentalist and composer, Sylvaine has assembled a solid collection of songs on her latest, Nova (out now on Season of Mist).

Sylvaine offers up a mix of black metallish sounds with traditional folk stylings and vocals that run the gamut from ethereal beauty to full on shrieks. With a sound reminiscent of bands like Alcest and Myrkur, the band put on an impressive show. In a live setting, songs like “Mono No Aware” and “Nowhere, Still Somewhere” really come alive, with a few in the crowd even getting a bit of a mosh pit going towards the end of their set.

For their parts, headliners Zeal & Ardor and show openers Imperial Triumphant also put on memorable performances, though I feel that Imperial Triumphant in particular deserves a special shout out not only for their musical chops but for incorporating a champagne bottle into their performance, first using it as a guitar slide before popping the cork and then spraying the crowd, pouring the remnants into a few concertgoers mouths. I mean, if you were one of the lucky few to get some free champagne included along with your concert ticket? That’s just good value.

Concert Review: Yoo Doo Right, Cadence Weapon, August 27, Lithuanian House

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The second night of Wavelength’s Summer Thing at Lithuanian House saw Cadence Weapon returning to headline another night on a bill that also included the likes of Magi Merlin, Prince Innocence, Absolutely Free and Montreal psych/post-rock trio Yoo Doo Right.

Yoo Doo Right first caught our attention back in March with a stellar set at this year’s SXSW. The band definitely sounded impressive then, but on this night, given the chance to stretch out a bit beyond the usual 30-40 minute confines of a SXSW set, Yoo Doo Right were really able to show what they’re capable of, putting on a performance that was equal parts noisy and beautiful. Setting up on the floor in front of the stage and bathed in the glow of their psychedelic lightshow, the three piece played a mostly instrumental set that brought to mind fellow Montrealers Godspeed You! Black Emperor at times.

Cadence Weapon, for his part, was in good spirits for his second night headlining the venue, putting on a set that was fairly similar to the first night’s, though a bit longer. Like the previous night, the songs from his latest, Parallel World, were again the highlights, though he did switch things up a little bit. For one thing, he wore Crocs on stage for the first time ever, a decision that from the sounds of things, may have been a game changer for him.

He also treated the crowd to a story about how he once opened for Rihanna at Ottawa Bluesfest, completely bombed in front of her audience, and how he then cussed out an unimpressed Rihanna fan (and inadvertantly the entire audience) that night, which ultimately got him banned from an Ottawa radio station … that likely never played him in the first place. That story, and a bunch of others, are in his recently released book Bedroom Rapper: Cadence Weapon on Hip Hop, Resistance and Surviving the Music Industry.

Before I close out this review, I’d first like to share a few words on the venue and why there really should be more shows there. Lithuanian House is essentially a banquet hall/event space that presumably mostly serves the Lithuanian community in the neighbourhood. It’s a nice space with pretty good acoustics, a little reminiscent of the Tranzac, but bigger. So … why aren’t more people booking shows at this spot? Is it just not that well known? Is it that it’s a little too far west for some? Are there Lithuanian weddings happening every weekend that are keeping the place booked up? Who knows, but I hope that in the future, more concert promoters decide to start booking here, and not just because I live within walking distance. Though that is most surely a big selling point for me.

Concert Review: Backxwash, Cadence Weapon, August 26, Lithuanian House

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This past Friday night saw the two most recent winners of the Polaris Prize share the same bill (though not the same stage) as Cadence Weapon and Backxwash made their way to the Lithuanian House to play the first night of Wavelength’s “Summer Thing,” with each artist both headlining and curating a stage at the West End venue.

As Backxwash took to the stage at the venue’s lower level with a huge grin on her face, the crowd was already pretty hyped, but once the show got started, things went to another level. This was an intense performance and a fully satisfying one. But as intense (and heavy) as the set was, Backxwash somehow managed to take things up yet another notch by inviting Brooklyn’s Dreamcrusher, who had played earlier that night, to join her onstage for the final song. All in all, an incredible performance.


For many, Backxwash’s set would be a hard act to follow, even if separated by a couple of floors. Luckily, Cadence Weapon also put on a great show as he closed out the night on the upstairs stage. Touring behind his latest album, 2021’s Parallel World, Cadence Weapon put on an impressive performance despite the fact that, as he stated at one point, it was past his bedtime.

Though his set seemed a bit brief (he played for a bit longer on the second night), there were several highlights that stood out, including “SENNA”, “Eye to Eye” (“This song is inspired by when I used to live on Roncesvalles and would get racially profiled by my neighbours”), “Skyline” and “On Me”, its lyrical references to cellphone surveillance ironically juxtaposed with the crowd lighting up their cellphones and waving them in the air. He also threw in snippets of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and Stardust’s “Music Sounds Better With You” for good measure.

Another memorable moment came in the form of “My Crew (Woooo),” which he dedicated on this night to everyone at the show. While the song may have been written about his time in Montreal, in this context it acted as a nice reminder of what live music at its best is all about – bringing people together in shared moments and building a sense of community.

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