Concert Review: Hatchie, April 20, Longboat Hall

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Photo credit: Frank Yang

We here at the Panic Manual first caught Australian dream pop artist Hatchie a little over a year ago at SXSW and were impressed with her sound and her live show – clearly she seemed primed for greater success. So it’s a bit surprising that she’s taken things a bit slow, with her full length debut Keepsake only just coming out later this year (June 21) on Double Double Whammy Records. Still, while it’s been a bit of a long wait, her fine EP Sugar & Spice has surely tided fans over in the meantime, and in the buildup to the new album’s release, she’s currently on a tour with Girlpool that came through Longboat Hall on Saturday night.

During her roughly 30 minute set, Hatchie (aka Harriette Pillbeam) kept things short but sweet, running through a set packed full of beautiful, shimmering numbers like “Try” and “Sure” off the EP as well as a few off of the upcoming full length like “Without A Blush.” Since the last time Hatchie ventured around these parts, the live band has been scaled back to a three piece, but the band sounded great and doesn’t seem to have lost any of the fullness in their sound. I also have to give props to the drummer in particular for having a set of chimes as part of his kit – outside of new age music and a few prog rock bands, you don’t really see enough chimes these days.

Hatchie put on a solid show that left the crowd wanting more. Here’s hoping she’ll be back soon enough for a full headlining set once Keepsake is released.

Concert Review: Aborted, Cryptopsy, Hideous Divinity, April 19, Lee’s Palace

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Good Friday. For millions of people around the world, it’s a significant day in their faith. For the rest of us, it’s mostly just a day off work. Still, even if by chance my plans for the day had leaned towards something a tad more pious, surely those plans would have been … aborted once I made plans to see Aborted.

Yes, the Belgian death metal band (and inspiration for my terrible pun above) are currently on their “Hell Over North America” tour with Cryptopsy and Hideous Divinity that brought them through Toronto this past Friday night for a show at Lee’s Palace. And as Fridays go, it was indeed a pretty good one.

After a brief but energetic set from local openers Burdizzo, Italian technical death metallers Hideous Divinity came on strong with vocalist Enrico Di Lorenzo introducing the band to the crowd in a rather unique manner. “Toronto! Are you ready for some Italian love?” seemed like a bit of an odd way for a metal band to introduce themselves, but it turned out to be fairly apt since much of his unique and hilarious stage banter often sounded like he was trying to seduce the whole crowd. Which, while not terribly metal, does seem pretty Italian.

Highlights of his banter included, “I hope you are enjoying this typical Italian product. Because this typical Italian product is enjoying you!” and “We’ve had so much fun here we’re going to come back. We are going to cross the oceans for you. You deserve it.” Stage banter aside, the band sounded impressive and Di Lorenzo was a charismatic frontman, often gesturing dramatically to the crowd and sometimes almost seeming like a conductor, albeit one whose orchestra is made up of bodies in the mosh pit.

Up next was Crytopsy, playing their last date on the tour to a crowd that, according to vocalist Matt McGachy, was the best so far. They put on an intense show full of the band’s trademark technical virtuosity – Flo Mounier continues to be one of the best drummers in metal. The band ran through a selection of songs from throughout their career, including a few off their recently released pair of Book Of Suffering EPs, and ended off their set by leaving the stage to the strains of Whitney’s version of “I Will Always Love You”. Maybe they were trying to seduce the crowd too.

Finally, it was time for headliners Aborted to take the stage and bring on the “blastbeat party” they had promised. The band are touring behind last year’s TerrorVision album, the title of which almost certainly isn’t a reference to the ’90s English rock band of the same name, but which nevertheless reminded me that that band existed. So thanks for that, Aborted.

Vocalist Sven de Caluwe took to the stage wearing a ‘Yes, I Am Joe Rogan’ t shirt (I guess as a bald guy fronting a metal band, he must get a lot of “Bro, you look just like Joe Rogan” comments from fans) and much like his tour mates, he made note of how high energy the crowd was. And for their enthusiasm, the crowd was rewarded in turn with an equally energetic set. Although the band’s been going since 1995, they’re not just resting on their laurels and the new album proves that they’ve still got a few tricks up their sleeves, experimenting a bit with their sound and adding a little diversity. Live, the new songs sounded great and prove that Aborted are still at the top of their game after nearly 25 years.

Concert Review: Dilly Dally, April 10, Wise Hall

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Dilly Dally

Toronto’s Dilly Dally nearly didn’t make it this far; after the success and touring schedule of their first album Sore, the band very nearly imploded. The second album, Heaven, is all the better for that experience – the darkness and doubt is well balanced with hope, beauty and optimism. Surprisingly, they seem just as busy promoting and touring this album. They played 15 gigs in Europe in early 2019, followed by over 20 dates in a month in North America, not to mention the dozens of gigs in 2018.

The audience are pleased Dilly Dally has made it this far and were up for it from the get go. Opening track “I Feel Free” starts slowly and builds and builds. Lead singer and guitarist Katie Monks expresses pure, raw emotions with her vocals, which have a contradictory combination of sweetness and aggressive screeching. The band are often compared to Pixies and Hole, which, while being a massive complement, is also a bit of an unfair comparison as Monks is a unique singer who is far from being a Black Francis or Courtney Love wannabe. On this evening, she has a Flying V style guitar and is dressed in white with bleached blond hair while bassist Jimmy Tony is wearing a black vest and shortish mini skirt and guitarist Liz Ball is wearing all black; short black dress, short black hair, short black stockings. Drummer Benjamin Reinhartz could have been wearing anything, as everyone’s eyes were fixed on the front three, but mostly on Monks. They sound great and they look great, and it works.

The set was a mix of songs from the first two albums and the audience were as excited by the new album tracks as they were for most songs from the band’s impressive debut, Sore. The venue, Vancouver’s Wise Hall, is dark and intimate – perfect for this gig. The sprung dance floor is great for dancing and the reasonably priced craft beer selection on tap is better than your average music venue. It was far from full though, which was disappointing.

The last song of the set was the intense “Desire”, with the lyrics “I’m coming at you from against the world” feeling apt in these modern times. The crowd chanted ‘one more song’ and promptly got two. Even with the two song encore, the performance lasted less than an hour.

The closing song of the night was “Heaven” and with the opening lyric “I’ve been dead for seven years,” it is not the most optimistic finale. The first verse finishes, “Sleeping with my best friend, it don’t feel like heaven,” which sounds about right. Dilly Dally’s lyrics are honest, truthful and not afraid to tell it like it is. They make such a refreshing change from many of today’s jaunty indie folk bands.

Concert Review: The Antlers, April 8, Opera House

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It’s very hard for me to believe that Hospice, The Antlers epically sad third record, is celebrating its ten year anniversary this year. It only seems like a few years ago when the trio hit the music scene with this album, yet here I was on a damp Monday night revisiting this seminal album from the Brooklyn trio. Time flies/I’m getting old.

Perhaps I’m not the only one getting old – The Antlers, perhaps realizing that their crowd were probably not 20 something indie kids anymore, opted for the super rare seated configuration at the Opera House, giving all of us with sore lower backs a reprieve from having to stand.

More likely, the reason behind the seated venue was due to the nature of the show itself. For the ten year anniversary of Hospice, The Antlers were actually playing a stripped down version of the album. Rather than plying us with a wall of sound and reverb as one would have expected, the trio sat down at the start of the show and played Hospice end to end with just a few instruments.

It was great. With the minimalist approach, the songs relied mostly on the few chords that each song has and Peter Silbermann’s voice. It’s been awhile since I revisited this album but what really caught me this time was how much the Antlers can do with just a few chords. It’s amazing how much a few well played notes can create the mood that the band was going for. This was also a fuckin’ sad album.

Ultimately, the Antlers X-factor is Pete Silberman’s voice. The man’s ability to transition from lows to highs is at the core of the Antlers’ songs and that voice has held up well in the past decade.

For me, my favorite moments were “Sylvia”, “Bear” and “Two”. “Two” is still a devastating song a decade later and not having heard it in a while, I especially respected the amazing word play that goes with that song.

A wonderful night, all in all.