Festival Review: Live at Squamish, August 20th and 21st, Squamish, BC

Posted on by sarahw in Concerts, Everything, Music, Reviews | Leave a comment

Live at Squamish

Oh British Columbia, the beautiful left coast of Canada.   Where the tiny town of Squamish lies quietly nestled in between Vancouver and Whistler.  Not seeing much action for most of the year, other than people checking out the mining museum and bathroom breaks on the way to Whistler.  That is until Virgin schedules a music festival there and thousands of hipsters descend upon the tiny town for 2 days of beautiful music and mayhem.  Thus Live at Squamish was born.

Quite frankly, I was more pumped about being in the mountains than about any of the bands playing.  However, a combination of Kokanee, Pulled Bison and nostalgia made it worth the trek.

Two headliners

Two bands I’d never seen

Two festival highlights

1. Weezer

For some reason I wasn’t that excited to see Weezer, so it was a nice surprise when they absolutely rocked live.  Talk about Nostalgia, Weezer was huge when I was in high school, which means that I knew just about every song.

You’ve got to hand it to Weezer’s ever-oddball front man, Rivers Cuomo for always being consistent – wearing his signature collared shirt with sweater on top.  He jumped around on stage with boundless energy singing classics like Buddy Holly, Island in the Sun, Say it Ain’t So, The Sweater Song, My Name is Jonas, We Are All on Drugs and many more.  Everyone knew the words.  Everyone sang.  It was amazing.

I’ve heard murmurs of  The Weezer Cruise, a music festival…ON A BOAT.  If you can, GO!  It’s bound to be awesome, with accompanying acts such as: Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis, Sebadoh, Wavves and a bunch more.  Sounds pretty epic.

2. Girl Talk

After seeing him at the festival, I still honestly don’t know what Girl Talk does at his live shows other than press play on his iTunes playlist and proceed to remove layers of clothing as the concert progresses.  However, since he’s the king of generation-Y-pleasing mash-ups, this was one amazing dance party that started with audience members dancing on the stage and ended with confetti cannons.

Other festival honourable mentions include Jon Butler Trio, Stars and the Emily Haines/James Shaw acoustic show.

As far as music festivals go, Canada doesn’t have many.  Squamish, however was well organized, beautiful and scored a decent bill of bands! See you next year!

Concert Review: Mike Evin, Language Arts, Aug 23, Bread & Circus

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 5 Comments

Toronto – Earlier this week singer-songwriter Mike Evin played to a small but appreciative crowd at Kensington Market’s Bread & Circus. The Montreal-born and sometimes Toronto-based musician has just moved back to the big city. He brought an upbeat attitude to his set, playing songs from both the archives and his latest album “Do You Feel The World?”

Opening for Mike was Toronto-based Kristen Cudmore of Language Arts. Hailing from Nova Scotia, Kristen alternated between nylon-string & electric guitars, a synth, and a loop machine to weave her music. Listening to her play made me want to buy a loop machine. They look so fun. Easily the best part of the set was Kristen’s bubbly, adorable, nerdy, slightly vulnerable but super genuine personality. I can only imagine that a little maturity and experience will do wonders.

The transition from one singer-songwriter to the next was smooth. The set featured an eclectic mix of songs about hot secretaries, soapbox car racers, and of all things, the stage banter of the late-great trumpeter Percy Heath set as lyrics for Mike’s own song. The piano playing was tasteful. Mike threw himself into it with abandon. He was clearly having fun, and that fun was clearly infectious. As much as I love Bread & Circus as an intimate and friendly venue to see live music in the city, I do wish that it could draw a larger crowd so more people could enjoy what it has to offer.

Concert Review: Kurt Vile, Woods, White Fence, August 10, Rock & Roll Hotel

Posted on by halley in Concerts | Leave a comment

You know what’s cool every once in a while? When an opener blows the main act out of the water. Although it can be a let-down when the end of the concert comes and you realize your favorite part was over hours ago, it’s always a pleasant surprise to happen upon a small band that you like in a big way. This was exactly my experience at the August 10th Kurt Vile concert at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

First, to set the scene: Rock and Roll Hotel (R&R Hotel as we hipster Washingtonians like to call it) is THE place to be for alternative music junkies. Not only is it in an out of the way (read: not QUITE completely gentrified) section of DC, it also offers concert-goers tantalizing proximity to musicians’ changing rooms that are located adjacent to the upstairs bar and are furnished in an eclectic and fascinating Victorian-parlor-inspired way. Love-struck and thirsty fans are given every excuse to linger near their idolized
stars, hoping for a glimpse of the performers and, if their luck is good, a run-in with one or more band members as they make their way to the downstairs stage. Besides an intimate concert experience in a cool locale, R&R also provides patrons with a full menu of tall-boy beer varieties and legendary “first date fries” served with the most delicious garlic mayo you’ll ever have the pleasure of m(eat)ing.

But I digress.

Since this concert turned the usual musical experience (mediocre opener, breath-taking headliner) upside down, I’ve decided to do the same with this review: I’ll start with Vile (who performed last) and work my way backwards to the highlight of the show. Here goes:

Not surprisingly, I’d bought tickets to this concert to see headliner Kurt Vile. Vile, a talented Pennsylvania-based performer, has a cool sound that falls somewhere between Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. Although I don’t personally see much similarity between him and Animal Collective (one of my favorite bands), the two have collaborated, which makes me like him all the more. Vile put on a good show (I especially liked his rendition of My Baby’s Arms and the Blackberry song) and he proved himself an adorable on-stage personality. Nothing but smiles and thank yous and pleasant nodding that made his long hair swing back and forth in a completely endearing fashion. Endearing, mind you, not mind-blowing.

Kurt Vile – Freeway by freemusicarchive

Woods, who performed before Vile, were quite good as well. The guitarist, Jeremy Earl, founded the Woodsist label that produces both Vile and Woods (and, as it turns out, White Fence). It was obvious the bands shared both influence and members with Vile. While Vile was a bit more traditional (his songs were relatively short with narrative vocals), Woods performed longer pieces, many of which had no vocals. Their sound was a bit too techno for my tastes, but overall I liked their sound a lot.

woods – sun and shade (album preview) by experimedia

Saving the best for last (though they came first), the second opener, White Fence proved the high point of the evening (I missed True Widow, who played first). Not only was White Fence perfectly punctual, they also represented a refreshing mix of white-boy-hipster-look and soulful-techno-blues-sound. I don’t think a single band member topped the scale at more than 110 pounds, but the old-school vibe they produced was surprisingly and pleasantly weighty. Before getting to the music (I promise, I’m getting there) I’d also like to note their on-stage banter was just the right mix of friendly and engaging while not distracting. They were truly humble and charming.

OK, the music: imagine Beach Boys in Bollywood. Or maybe the Beatles collaborating with the Byrds? Maybe it’s best if you just take a listen yourself. I particularly enjoyed Mr. Adams and Destroy Everything.

Overall, the show was well worth the trek out to H Street in the District’s notorious northeast quadrant. It was one of those nights when you feel like you ate dessert before dinner – not something you’d want every day, but every once in a while – just the thing to make your week memorable.

“Get That Heart” by White Fence by forcefieldpr

Concert Review: Memory Tapes, August 13, Wrongbar

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything | Leave a comment

Toronto – Memory Tapes have been classified by some as chillwave, but what the hell does that even mean?  It’s not like I’m being wilfully ignorant here – I’ve listened to a few of the bands that have been categorized as such and I’m certainly able to look up the Wikipedia entry on chillwave if in need of further clarification.  It’s just that it really seems like a somewhat meaningless and arbitrary genre classification.  It’s a problem with a lot of more recently created genres.  Another example is witch house.  What kind of crappy name for a music genre is that?  If it actually sounded like old hags with pointy noses and broomsticks making booming house music, maybe I could get behind it, but from what I’ve heard (which is admittedly very little) it really doesn’t, but I guess people need a name for stuff so it sticks.  I guess it’s been going on ever since people started marketing music to an audience.

And another thing – Memory Tapes’ music isn’t all that “chill” to begin with.  The New Jersey based band (and yes, it was a band – Dayve Hawks brought along a rhythm section for this show) is actually fairly upbeat at times.  But what do I know?  One thing is for sure at least – regardless of genre classification, Memory Tapes make some pretty damn catchy music.  They’re not the most exciting live, but they did get they crowd moving a bit, albeit mildy.  I will admit that at about the  halfway point in their set, I had kind of had enough, but that may be as much my fault as theirs as I had been out the previous four nights and was feeling kind of tired.  Maybe I should get more sleep.  Or maybe if they hadn’t been so “chillwave,” I’d have been more into it.  Regardless, it was a pretty good night of music, no matter what you call it.

Memory Tapes – Wait In The Dark