Concerts

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.

Concert Review: Toxic Holocaust, February 26, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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When a friend heard I was going to see Toxic Holocaust, his response was understandable: “What the heck is Toxic Holocaust?”

It’s a fair question. After all, to those not already immersed in the metal scene, a lot of the band names might sound a bit strange or shocking and really, that’s entirely the point. With a name like Toxic Holocaust, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect going in.

Though I’d imagine that even if someone did manage to make their way into the venue without knowing a single thing about the band, one look at frontman Joel Grind would make things clear that this was a thrash metal show. With a headband over his long, bleach blonde hair and a cutoff denim vest with a “Speed Metal” patch on the back, Grind certainly looks the part. And if you were somehow still confused, the drumhead emblazoned with the words “Toxic Thrash Metal” would be a dead giveaway.

The Portland three-piece are currently on tour with Soulfly in support of their latest effort Primal Future:2019, a concept album centred around a dystopian society, though their set focused mostly on older material, with tracks such as “Wild Dogs”, “666” and “Nuke The Cross” getting the biggest response. Not that the crowd was at all shy about showing their appreciation the rest of the time either, with a pit erupting pretty much from the first second the band started playing opening number “Gravelord” and continuing throughout the entirety of the band’s high energy set.

“Holy shit, you guys came to party!” exclaimed Grind.

Indeed they did. What else are you gonna do in this primal future we’re all living in?

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