Concerts

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?

Concert Review: Bat For Lashes, February 22, The Phoenix

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Bat For Lashes at the Phoenix Concert Theatre
Photos by Stephen McGill

It’s been over a decade since Bat For Lashes last graced the city of Toronto, so when this show was announced late last year I was super excited. Their last show, which we covered, was on the heels of 2009’s phenomenal album Two Suns and coincidentally, this show follows the release of last year’s excellent Lost Girls, which is my favorite album of theirs since Two Suns.

As the show approached, its description changed from a straight up concert to what was then labelled as “An evening with Bat For Lashes.” I was like … what does this mean? Aren’t these types of shows usually reserved for Michael Buble fans?

As it turns out, “An evening with Bat For Lashes” meant a stripped down show featuring Natasha Khan and another musician instead of her usual band. On top of that, Natasha dove into the inspirations behind some of her songs, not just telling us the meaning behind them but often presenting some accompanying material with the song in the form of a reading or poetry.

Now normally this type of activity can come off as a bit pompous but Natasha Khan has always had this mystic, artistic quality to her – Bat For Lashes records mostly trend towards the conceptual and you can actually sense that yes, going into the Death Valley to visit a ballerina there can inspire an entire song. For most other artists I would say this would come off as overindulgent, but with this show I think it added to the unique experience.

Given that Lost Girls has a nice “beaty” element to it, I was intrigued to see how the stripped down versions would fare. The answer: quite well. At the heart of it all, Khan has an amazing voice and she has a knack for writing hooks that can be interpreted any which way.

The set list featured covers (“Boys of Summer”, “I Drove All Night”) as well as several older hits including “Laura”, “Joe’s Dream” and “Moon & Moon.” Of course, “Daniel” was the most well received song, featuring the most polite sing along of all time. “Daniel” is an amazing tune – 11 years later and it’s never left my listening rotation.

All in all, a successful evening. It’s been too long since Bat For Lashes was in town and I hope I don’t have to wait another decade to see them again.

SXSW Song Of The Day: Katie Pruitt – Normal

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

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Photo Credit: Alysse Gafkjen

It’s no secret that I have a thing for folksy songs. The setup couldn’t be simpler – one person, few background instruments, and still air between us. There is also nowhere to hide. Here, I don’t need to be submerged by a wall of sound.

What I almost never tire of is that expansion of a voice hitting and lifting me like a perfectly timed wave, one that I can scramble to launch from, time and again. There is no strict need to overanalyze the melody, the hooks, etc. You just go with the flow until it drops beneath your feet and you go toes up into the sand with sea lions gawking at your inability to swim.

“Normal,” from Katie Pruitt‘s album Expectations, is one of these. It is authentic and heartfelt.

SXSW Song Of The Day – Lambert – Vienna

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

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Photo Credit: Andreas Hornoff

“Vienna” from Lambert‘s album True is not unsettling at all, even if it is performed by men wearing demonic leather masks in (rather sparse) traffic.

But Dear Sir, I must write to object. Why couldn’t they have chosen a garden variety ten-lane Los Angeles freeway to emphasize the contrast between the quiet, demure creeping of the keyboard over the true evil that is California traffic? I couldn’t begin to tell you the answer.

Or how about against a burning pyre that puts their instruments in real danger of spontaneous ignition from the radiative heat while their fingers dance upon the fire that crackles with the same musical intensity?

What I can tell you is that flights from Germany are not expensive and come with free beer, and… wait. OK. Maybe they also have worms in their heads to help them consume those beers and… OH that’s why the masks! Their music slides under their own skins and grows leather masks from the inside out! Everything make sense now. Forty years from now that mask will be so huge that it will begin to make its own sound and music, and it will sound, prophetically, exactly the same.

None of this will not happen if you listen to this music. Have fun!

Lambert plays the Central Presbyterian Church on Thursday, March 19 at 7:00pm.