Concert Review: The Pelts, October 15, Rainbow Bistro

Posted on by stacey in Concerts | Leave a comment

Ottawa – “Your prom turns into a Tarantino soundtrack” is the intriguing description I read of The Pelts which drew me to The Rainbow Bistro on Saturday. Having never heard anything from this rockabilly/ garage/Mersey beat four-piece, from the moment they appeared on stage in skinny suits, with a little pompadour hair and two-toned shoes, I knew we were in for a good time. And boy, I was right. By the end of the night, there wasn’t a person left in a seat as we were all up giggling at their witty lyrics, and cutting a rug to their infectious tunes.

The band played a combination of their own great songs (such as ‘San Tarantino’, ‘Earnestly’ and ‘You Really Got a Hold on Me’) as well as a huge variety of covers (everything from Smokey Robinson to Vanilla Ice) that they clearly made their own. The success of their sound lies in the obvious skill of each of the members, and how much they enjoy putting on a great show together. Each of the three vocalists had a great solo tone, but even better were their spot-on vocal harmonies. Full of panache, Sam Menard on drums set the beat that got the Rainbow jumping. The Rev. Dr. D. Spanx alternated between lead vocal, a perfectly placed sax (too often overdone), and one mean harmonica. With Billy SLiM rocking out on lead guitar, even he couldn’t suppress the urge to dance that only some taps on his white shoes would top. Finally, Blazer Mack, on a beautifully grooving 6-string base tried to keep a cool front, which only made him more endearing when he would break out in a beaming ear-to-ear smile, clearly showing what a great time these guys have putting on a show.

Although unconfirmed, word on the street is that The Pelts are planning a tour in the not-so-distant future, so dust off your dancing shoes and plan to go when they make a stop in your town.

Concert Review: Best of Baroque, Toronto Symphony, Oct 15

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | Leave a comment

The Toronto Symphony season is in full swing and I am pretty excited about this year’s line-up. Renowned pianist Lang Lang will have a two-week residency with the TSO in November. Later this year we welcome famous conductor Itzhak Perlman. Last but not least, cello virtuoso Yo-Yo Ma will be coming in May to sprinkle some of his magical stardust on Toronto. All of this is helping the TSO celebrate it’s 90th anniversary.

Despite being 90 years old, the symphony continues it’s efforts to outreach to the youth of today. It’s got one of the most vibrant youth programs for Classical music in tsoundcheck. Under 35’ers can get tickets for as little as $14. Best of all, you’re not relegated to horrible seats. For this latest performance, I happened to score third row seats that would have made my grey-haired neighbours green with envy.

Last Saturday, TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis took us through a night of Bach music entitled the Best of Baroque. For all my years of attending the symphony, it was the first time I heard Roy Thompson’s impressively majestic pipe organ. From there we moved onto some beautiful Bach concertos, and some interpretations of Bach’s work from a variety of artists, including Sir Andrew Davis himself.

For those who haven’t yet explored the Toronto Symphony, it’s a thoroughly soul-cleansing experience. You get to listen to un-amplified musicians at the top of their game playing in perfect, well, symphony. Plus at $14 a pop, you can’t go wrong.

Under 32? Buy $14 tickets to the symphony here. Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 2 plays on Oct 19-20, which will totally kick ass.

11. Sheep may safely graze by kyuji86

Concert Review: Zola Jesus, October 14, Mod Club

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | Leave a comment

Zola Jesus

There are a few things that will almost always guarantee a favorable review. First, make it an early show. Second, have a good dinner. Third, make it geographically convenient. Fourth, make it a Friday night.

The Zola Jesus show at the Mod Club Theatre last week hit all of these marks. But beyond that, Nika Danilova delivered a solid show, proving that she is not just another flash-in-pan in a parade of goth-y, powerful female vocalists to come out within the past couple of years (Bat for Lashes aka Natasha Khan comes most immediately to mind). Though given the deluge of women singers we’re typically subjected to, this departure from the booty-bearing pop princess is a welcome trend. Songstresses like Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush, I’m sure, approve.

Raised in Cheese-drenched Wisconsin, Nika Danilova has an interesting background. Her parents are Russian, she grew up in 98% white logging town of Merrill and raised herself on opera music, training herself at an early age to sing with exacting standards. Maybe it was this early self-education that makes her such a natural performer now.

There’s a difference between those who strike out as bedroom performers and those that strike out as public ones early on. I reckon that those who become more comfortable as musicians are the ones who start doing live shows as quickly as possible instead of experimenting with synth equipment in someone’s bedroom in high school, because live music is a whole different game. I was somewhat surprised that the hype machine hasn’t quite caught up with Zola Jesus in Toronto, but maybe I’m so late I missed all of the frenzy, and now it’s down to a mere simmer. That’s just fine with me, as seeing Danilova at the sparsely populated Mod Club made for some interesting theatrics in the latter half of the show.

This is the second recent general admission set I’ve attended where the lead singer has decided to “hang out” singing on the floor as opposed to the stage. The first was during last month’s Peter, Bjorn, and John show, when Peter got lost in a sea in front of the stage. The second incident was this show, where Ms. Danilova decided she’d mix things up by disappearing off the stage and running through the audience a couple of times. There happened to be a big gaping hole in the area I was standing, so she walked right by me twice, and everyone realized how short she was.

But no matter, the material she presents in Stridulum II is fantastic stuff. Dark, sharp, and powerful with industrial/goth influences–that coupled with her comfort and charisma onstage equals a short but good show.

3.5 out of 5

Concert Review: Little Dragon, October 12, Hoxton

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Sweden’s electro-pop act Little Dragon are on fire. It seems like the band’s third full length record, which spawned hits such as Ritual Union and Shuffle a Dream has finally given the band the acknowledgement that many feel they deserve. A sold out crowd at the Hoxton confirmed my sneaking suspicion that they were indeed a band on an exponential rise. It was a rainy Wednesday night and with the crowd ready to rock, the band hit the stage and delivered a 80 minute set of dance heavy tracks that drew from all albums.

Little Dragon’s driving force is Yukimi Nagano, a women who exudes confidence and demands attention on stage. Moving fluently between singing, banging on electric drums/cowbells/objects and doing odd robotic dances, Yukimi was quite a sight on stage and her soulful voice added that extra punch to the tracks. It was a good thing that her presence on stage is so magnetic as the other members of the bands were pretty content in just letting the music do the talking. The sold out Gossip Girl meets Vice Magazine crowd (thanks Melody) was seemingly having a good time, dancing to the music when not traversing between their standing area and the bar. I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen so much movement by random people during a set. As Paul suggested, it seemed like a lot of people were at the show just to be seen or say that they were there, which I guess fits well given the Hoxton’s location to the notoriously scene Thompson Hotel.

The songs of Little Dragon seem to blend into a uniform sound at time but the band’s show was energetic and enjoyable enough to provide a nice boost to the crowd, a nice touch on a rainy Wednesday night.

Ritual Union by Little Dragon