On Friday night, me and my friends went to Clinton’s for a fun night of dancing. While we were there, we met some cool people and in a drunken 3 am haze, we decided that karaoke was the only course of action. We stumbled down a narrow staircase into one of those Korean karaoke places that you swear would serve you alcohol after three, but the lady at the front of the shop was insistent that this wasn’t one of “those places”. We went into the room and proceeded to do as you do, which is butcher as many songs as possible (the random people we picked up insisted on singing Christmas songs, and some of us spent the entire weekend with Wham in our head). Tone death, out of breath and lacking any type of range, it’s amazing to see how truly awful some people are as singers when faced with a microphone.
You know who aren’t horrible singers?
Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming, of English band Wild Beasts. While Hayden is armed with an operatic range, Tom is no slouch on his own, adding an impressive array of depth with his vocals. Together, they are the backbone of the amazing live act that is Wild Beast. In town to promote their third album Smother, the group once again took to a packed Mod Club to display their talents, much like last August when they were in town to promote their Mercury Prize nominated Two Dancers.
Taking the stage to darkness and mystique, the band’s initial yearning for a dramatic opening was interuppted by technical difficulties, as noted by respected music blog Chromewaves in their review of the show. Hiccups aside, the band spend the next eighty minutes wooing the crowd with their unique blend of dramatic rock ballads anchored by vocal interplay between the smooth agile voice of Hayden Thorpe and the more rough meat and bones sounds of Tom Fleming. The moderately hypnotic tracks were accentuated by Hayden’s weird swaying with the guitar during the set, which I can’t decide if it’s awkward or awesome.
Starting the set with the mostly tracks from the last album, Wild Beasts played what I think should be the default set list for a new band to play – newer songs first, followed by all the popular hits. As one would expect, once the opening notes of the hit song We Still Got the Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues were played, the crowd simply went to another level. Surprisingly enough, it’s one of the bands few fast tempo songs. I don’t think Smother has a track that plays that fast. Anyways, the impossibly good Hooting and Howling finished off the main set before the group came back for a surprising three song encore. The seven to ten minute epic End Come Too Soon ended off the set and left a crowd in a nice post show daze. I think every band needs an epic long track and End Come Too Soon fits that glove to a tee. A slow build, a breakdown followed by a rousing lifting conclusion, its a song gives you goosebumps and appropriately enough, seems perfect to end off a very impressive show.
Before there was all the drama, there was light – in the form of local indie rock band Still Life Still, a constant on the Toronto concert scene, I had yet to see this Arts and Crafts band play live. I don’t think I had even heard any of their songs, but the fact that their name always floats around and that they appear to be Kevin Drew’s little baby sparked my interest. Haven’t released an album since 2009’s Girls Come Too I assumed the band used the opening slot to test out new material in anticipation of a 2012 release.
Unfortunately for the local outfit, Thursday night shows at the Mod Club means that the opening band has to take the stage at an ungodly time of 7:30 pm. This might be a reasonable time if you were 65 and going to check out Cher, but for indie kids, 7:30 pm start time is almost unimaginable. The result was a sparsely attended opening set that saw the band play to a small but dedicated fan base. Despite the fact that there has been some negative rumblings about the band, I thought the band’s music was pleasant enough. They definitely wear their Arts & Craft influence on their sleeves, as most of the tracks seems to have a community jamming sort of vibe, where the band would play randomly and somehow a song would derive out of that. The result was a very typical guitar based indie rock song that is pretty on the ears but for me lacked the hooks to fully reel me in. Fortunately for SLS, the band appears to be all of 14 years old so they have plenty of time to hone their craft.