CMW Review: The Lemonheads, Tommy Stinson, The Restless Age, May 8, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week | Leave a comment


While the idea of going out on the first couple of nights of CMW seemed a bit daunting to me, by Wednesday night, I was drawn out of my music fest hibernation to check out a couple of acts whose legacies stretch back to the 1980s – Tommy Stinson and The Lemonheads.

Taking the stage before Stinson and The Lemonheads were openers The Restless Age, a younger act than the others on the bill, but one whose sound hearkens back to an even earlier time with their piano-based pop bringing to mind the smooth sounds of ’70s singer-songwriters. That influence was made explicit by the end of their set when they closed things off with a James Taylor cover. With each member of the band taking the lead during their set and the three of them displaying some solid harmonies throughout, the band put on an impressive set.

Next up was Tommy Stinson, performing solo and acoustic throughout much of his set (he switched to electric for the last couple of tunes). Stinson was in a chatty mood, joking with the crowd (“Everyone pull out your iPhones. Here’s tonight’s tourist attraction”) and offering up a few good natured yet somewhat curmudgeonly complaints about his guitar stand and his new eyeglasses. Noting that he doesn’t do this kind of solo gig too often, Stinson promised that he was going to bust out some deep cuts for the occasion, and referred back to those new glasses again when explaining why he wasn’t working with a setlist – too hard to read and so, he was winging it. “So if you have any requests,” Stinson added, “Keep ‘em to yourself.”

Finally came the main event for the evening as Evan Dando and the current iteration of The Lemonheads took to the stage to play a set full of songs from throughout their career including classics such as “It’s A Shame About Ray”, “It’s About Time”, “The Outdoor Type” and “If I Could Talk I’d Tell You.” Touring behind their latest Varshons 2, the band also performed several of the songs off of that collection of covers, including versions of Yo La Tengo’s “Can’t Forget” and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ “Straight To You,” the latter of which stood out as one of the highlights of the night.

The band closed out their set with another cover, their version of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” from 1990’s Favourite Spanish Dishes EP, thus ending things off on a high note.

Concert Review: Hatchie, April 20, Longboat Hall

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


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 Cryptopsy, 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

Posted on by Martin Alldred in Concerts | Leave a comment

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.