Concert Review: Chad Valley, Active Child, September 14, Garrison

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Toronto – Leaving the Garrison after the show on Wednesday night, I was asked by Paul what I thought of the show. I said to him, “it was really good, two guys just singing over music” to which he replied “Yeah, but isn’t that everyone?”. While the statement I made applies to all music, there aren’t many that can sing like Hugo Manuel (of Chad Valley) and Pat Grossi (of Active Child).

Opening the night was Chad Valley, a solo project from Jonquil front man Hugo Manuel. Employing a simple synthesizer+ setup, Hugo hit the crowd at the Garrison with waves and waves of ambient notes and drum machines. All the tracks were of course, highlighted by the man’s voice. While I am never sure what the man is singing, he sings it well, hitting all the right notes and generally making me wish I can hit those notes or have that falsetto. Lost among the spacey trippy summer vibe that is his live take on his current EP Equatorial Ultravox, I blissfully nodded my head and moved to the tracks for the duration of the show. I even moved to stand up after securing a sitting spot, that’s big if you know how lazy I really am. Standout tracks include Fast Challenges and Now That I’m Real. Check him out if you get the chance.

Now That I’m Real (How Does It Feel) ft. Rose Dagul by chadvalley

While Chad Valley’s sound laid somewhere in the confines of a drug fueled summer pool party, Active Child’s sound lies firmly within the wreath of heartbreak. In town to promote their debut album You Are All I See, Active Child is the project of Pat Grossi, a man with some extensive choral/operatic voice training. Casually taking the stage with a harp, Pat Grossi was accompanied by a man on keyboards and another on an electric drum. From thereon in, Pat Grossi used his powerful voice as the brush to paint a picture of what might have been a pretty rough relationship. Laid out over simple but unique arrangements (including harps and pre-programmed sequences) Active Child mesmerized the crowd with their brand dark, introspective r&b meets electro music. A stark contrast from the earlier sounds of Chad Valley, but overall a good night of listening to people who can sing really really well.

Active Child – Hanging On

Concert Review: Miami Horror, September 13, Sound Academy

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Toronto – Opening for Empire of the Sun was another Australian synth-pop outfit – Miami Horror. The band had previously headlined a sold out show at the Mod Club in April. Due to the early start time of the headliners, the four piece outfit from Melbourne had the unfortunate task of opening up a show at 8pm to a rather sparse crowd. I made a note of that on my tweet.

Undeterred by the small crowd, Benjamin Plant, his singer Josh Moriarty and the rest of the band soldered forth an energetic set consisting of tracks off the band’s debut album Illuminations. To say Josh Moriarty has got moves is an understatement of epic proportions. The man knows his guitar poses as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. The spin? yup. The machine gun? yup. The play the guitar behind your head move? yup. On your knees? yup. Crotch in photographers face? yup. He’s got it all.

Miami Horror’s energy went a long way into transforming the semi lethargic opening band type crowd into a semi dance party. Their hit tracks – I look to you, Holidays and Summersun definitely struck a chord with the crowd and I even had a girl who looked like she had just started college ask me what the band was. Since English is my second language, I sometimes have trouble with my R’s so I think I said ‘Miami Whores’ which elicited a semi unfavorable response from the lady. I quickly rectified this by typing out the band’s name in my phone and showing her the real name, much to her relief. Her dad then protectively pulled her to the side and punched me in the face. One of the previous three sentences is a lie, I’ll let you figure out which one.

Anyways, the band ended off their set with the track Holiday. While the opening slot lacked the same amount of energy and love Miami Horror showed in their initial show here, they were still entertaining and easily won over a large number of new fans. A great achievement considering the circumstances.

Sometimes by Miami Horror (Official)

I don’t know why I quoted myself in this article, but like Whitney Houston said.. It’s not right but it’s okay.

Concert Review: Empire of the Sun, September 13, Sound Academy

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – As Uncle Frank drove us in his minivan towards the barren wasteland that is known as the Sound Academy, we casually glanced to our left to see yellow tents pointing skywards with the sign “Cirque De Soleil” prominently featured all over the grounds. Dancers dressed in odd costumes frolicking around all night long? “That would be interesting to see, I thought”.

After witnessing Empire of the Sun‘s mind blowing audio/visual spectacular on Tuesday night, its fair to say I may have just gotten my own theatrical thrill.

One of my favorite shows, The Mighty Boosh, starts off with the line “Come with us on a journey through time and space” and that is exactly how I felt when Luke Steele took to the the smoked filled stage dressed as a lovechild of Ziggy Stardust, some random characters from the movie Stargate and an ancient African tribe. With video projections showing images of worlds away, Steele and his troupe of dancers spent the next eighty minutes barraging all our senses with color, movement and of course, music. Both the singer and the dancers went through multiple costume changes ranging from the weird (space aged geishas?) to the absurd (some kind of horse-dolphin hybrid? yes..)

Now all of these visuals probably wouldn’t of worked if the music of band was not up to par. Despite a rather small catalog consisting of one whole album, the band was able to construct a rather long show by creating highly dance-able extended versions of their hit songs such as Standing on the Shores and Half Mast. Some of the filler tracks on the album did make it’s way into the show, but whenever the music didn’t do it for you, all you had to do was just watch everything going on. Time passes quickly. Luke Steele proved himself to be a rather entertaining lead, nailing a lovely guitar solo, having some nice banter (even bringing out his child at one point) and generally keeping things interesting on stage when he wasn’t play acting or dancing.

Our journey with the band ended with the track Walking on a Dream and just like that, they were gone. It was all over and we were back to reality where the colors suddenly don’t seem so bright and vivid.

Don’t let the high ticket price scare you away, Empire of the Sun is a show well worth experiencing. I can’t wait until they come back with another album and more material.

Without You by WalkingOnADream

Concert Review: Erasure, September 11, Sound Academy

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 5 Comments


Photo and setlist from IKVDK

“I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about Toronto that makes me incredibly horny” – Andy Bell

For the past 27 years, the brilliant Vince Clark and Andy Bell have been a newspaper classified success story. Answering Vince Clarke’s call for a singer, Mr. Bell won the job, making them synth pop and LGBT heros, and Clarke’s longest running, most successful act.

I feel I should break this review down categorically, because there was a LOT going on in terms of interaction, sights, and sounds.

In a kind of mildly Gothic, genre-crossing stage explosion, the set consisted of a twisted round symbol, with Vince Clarke’s podium a gargoyle with glowing red eyes and an elevated stage section for the back-up singers. The result was part burlesque, part weird, and all fabulous. Clark donned a shiny red fedora and sequined red suit, the back-up singers wire feather headdresses and sequined red bustiers, and Andy Bell was clad in a fuschia sequined blazer and gladiator-esque helmet.

The intro was a slower number, making for Bell’s disrobing and revelation of a tight vest corset all the more dramatic. The crowd became looser and more inflamed with Always. Perhaps it was the revelation of his full bicep gun-show that did us in–but more likely it was the fact that his forceful voice sounds better than ever now.

One of the funniest parts of the show was when Vince had to physically cut Andy’s corset vest off while Andy exclaimed “He’s so sweet”. There was a short costume change into a simpler (and more comfortable) t-shirt and sunglasses, but not before a period of shirtlessness.

If there’s one thing that is evident about Andy, it’s that he isn’t at all shy, and thank GOD. For a guy who is 47, he’s also still a fantastic live frontman. Although we often lost track of his back-and-forth with those standing in the front row, the one thing that we always took back was that he thrives off the audience. There was a curious tendency of his to talk like a castrated Kermit the Frog while thanking the audience in-between songs, but I wonder if this was a source of voice preservation…

Unsurprisingly, the dance moves were flaylingly enthusiastic from all fronts. First, from all of the die-hard Erasure fans that had made the trek to the ill-located Sound Academy. Second, from the prancing muscular full body moves of Andy Bell.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more belt-worthy chorus than from a classic Erasure song. From my favorite (Chorus) to Chains of Love to Love to Hate You and A Little Respect, there is nothing quite like singing out loud to Andy’s powerhouse chords. I also maintain that no one writes a more touching love song like an 80’s synthpop band.

These are two guys who can make you want to hear the same four lines endlessly for an entire song:

Chorus from CHORUS:
And they covered up the sun
Until the birds had flown away
And the fishes in the sea
Had gone to sleep

Chorus from ALWAYS:
I wanna be with you
And make believe with you
And live in harmony harmony oh love

Chorus from SOMETIMES:
Ooh, sometimes
The truth is harder than the pain inside, yeah
Ooh, sometimes
It’s the broken heart that decides

I’ve bolded my favorite moments from the show below–and although none of the newer songs are really included in there, it’s important for people to know that they are totally listen-worthy with beats that can compete with any new act.

SETLIST: (from Josh)

  1. Sono Luminus (Erasure – 1995)
  2. Always (I Say I Say I Say – 1994)
  3. When I Start To (Break It All Down) (Tomorrow’s World – 2011)
  4. Blue Savannah (Wild – 1989)
  5. Fill Us With Fire (Tomorrow’s World – 2011)
  6. Drama (Wild – 1989)
  7. You’ve Got To Save Me Right (Tomorrow’s World – 2011)
  8. Ship Of Fools (The Innocents – 1988)
  9. Chorus (Chorus – 1991)
  10. Breathe (Nightbird – 2005)
  11. Victim Of Love (The Circus – 1986)
  12. Alien (Loveboat – 2000)
  13. Push Me Shove Me (Wonderland – 1985)
  14. Love To Hate You (Chorus – 1991)
  15. I Lose Myself (Tomorrow’s World – 2011)
  16. A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot (Tomorrow’s World – 2011)
  17. Breath Of Life (Chorus – 1991)
  18. Chains Of Love (The Innocents-1988)
  19. Sometimes (The Circus-1986)
  20. A Little Respect (The Innocents-1988)


  1. Oh L’Amour (Wonderland-1985)
  2. Stop! (Crackers International-1988)

4.5 out of 5