Toronto – Based on Sarah’s review of their show this past November, I was curious to see what local band The Wilderness were all about. In fact, I had seen them once before, but committed minor concert douchebaggery by not totally paying attention to them. Based on the number of people who came out to see them at Lee’s Palace on this night, it seems that The Wilderness is gaining a bit of a following. I’m sure that a sizeable part of their appeal is based not just on their songs (which did indeed get much of the crowd dancing a bit) but on the fact that they put some effort into making their show a bit of a spectacle. By the second song, singer Lee Piazza tossed a bag of balloons into the audience to be distributed. Not quite realizing what he was doing, I initially thought, “What the hell? Did he just give that guy a bag of chips?” But no, they were in fact balloons, and the crowd took their cue, blowing them up and tossing them around, making the show somewhat akin to a low rent version of a Flaming Lips show.
In addition to the balloons, I later noticed Piazza occasionally shaking something over those standing in front of the stage. Again, my poor addled brain got confused and assumed he was either using some sort of percussion instrument or performing a strange shamanic ritual on those people. Well, he may in fact have been performing some sort of ritual, but upon reading about their previous shows afterwards, I realized he was sprinkling glitter all over the audience. The sparkles and the balloons did seem a bit gimmicky, but they were effective gimmicks. Who doesn’t like balloons?
As far as the music went, they had some interesting stuff going on sonically. They’ve been said to have a post-punk sound and that is accurate, but I did find Piazza’s vocals to be a bit much at times. On one song, his voice was veering into Rammstein territory and I’m not sure that’s what he was going for. Still, there’s no denying he has a powerful voice, and I did like the way he used it rhythmically in some songs as if it were just another instrument in the band.
Also on the bill were Modern Superstitions. Much like The Wilderness, I had also seen them perform once before, over a year ago at The Horseshoe as openers for The Reigning Sound. Since that show, the band has obviously logged in many hours onstage, including opening slots for The Hold Steady and Mudhoney and a short tour of Ontario with Sloan, and it shows. They offered up an impressive set of garage-ish rock highlighted by Nyssa Rosaleen’s strong vocals.