Summerworks Review: Evening Hymns, August 17, Theatre Centre

Posted on by Paul in Everything, Summerworks | Leave a comment

Anticipation was high amongst many in attendance at Friday night’s Evening Hymns show as part of Summerworks. A record release show for the band’s latest, Spectral Dust, it was also being recorded by the CBC for their Canada Live series. When frontman Jonas Bonetta mentioned this fact, some guy in the audience interjected “CBC Sucks!” Dude, who cares what you think about the CBC? I get that you want everyone to know that you’re oh so cool and beyond things like listening to the radio, but so what? Plus, if you were hoping that you’d be able to infiltrate the airwaves with your comments, they’ll probably edit you out anyways. Regardless of what anyone thinks though, it’s still pretty cool that the band’s getting their show broadcast across the nation. For the record though, I do think that CBC2 was way more interesting back when they had Brave New Waves.

Anyways, back to the show itself. Bonetta may have been a bit nervous, but it didn’t really have any bearing on the performance itself. With the band expanded to a full seven piece to better replicate the songs as recorded,it all sounded great. And in addition to the aural aspect of the show, in keeping with the artsy, theatrical nature of the Summerworks festival, artist Sean Frey provided some visuals in the form of projections on a screen behind the band. Bonetta was actually a bit bummed that he had to face the crowd and couldn’t watch. To digress a bit, I’d just like to point out that the projections at times brought to mind Horsebot 3000 from Community. I liked Horsebot 3000 …

Another aspect of the show that one couldn’t help but take in was the lyrics. Sometimes I don’t pay the closest attention to lyrics – There’s some songs I’ve loved for years that I just never learn the words to and especially live, hearing songs for the first time, I don’t necessarily focus on words. But knowing the backstory behind the songs on Spectral Dusk, the fact that the songs were inspired by the death of Bonetta’s father, I had to pay attention. That several of Bonetta’s family members were also in attendance that night probably made the songs more significant to him personally. They certainly seemed to strike a chord with the audience. With those up front sitting on the floor, the whole thing had a comfortable love-in vibe that meshed well with the band’s warm sound … even if the floors weren’t actually all that comfortable at all.

Summerworks Review: France, or The Niqab (2012, Tanja Jacobs)

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The Summerworks blurb was all in needed to read to pique my interest in this play.  “Warning: Nudity, Language, Sexism, Put-downs, Assaulting a police officer.”  And so, just like a teenager in the ’80s reading a PMRC sticker on an album cover, I was drawn towards France, or The Niqab.  The only thing that might draw me in more would be a rumour that the play includes secret messages if played backwards. 

Of course, the idea of warning people that a fake police officer is going to get assaulted on stage is an absurd one, which makes sense as this play, while dealing with some serious issues, is a comedy.  Telling the story of a French lawyer who decides to spend a day (a business day, to be precise) wearing a niqab so as to better understand the plight of her client.  Of course, lots of farcical moments arise from this scenario and a few shots are taken at the Candian government as well as that of France.  The play basically posits the idea that a woman should be allowed to wear whatever she pleases, whether it be a niqab or a miniskirt and that it’s not the place of a government to make such a decision.  That it does so while offering up a few laughs is a good thing.

Summerworks Review: Buck 65 (with Choir! Choir! Choir! and friends), August 15, Theatre Centre

Posted on by Ricky in Summerworks | Leave a comment

It was a clear black night, a clear white moon
Buck 65 was in the theatre centre, trying to consume
Some skirts for the eve, so I can get some funk
Just rollin in my ride, chillin all alone

Just hit the west side of the queen street
On a mission trying to find Mr. Richard T.
Seen a car full of girls tryin to get their fix
All you skirts know what’s up with 416

That was how far I made it on my hip hop inspired review of Buck 65‘s excellent Summerworks show on Wednesday. Originally I was going to modify the lyrics to Warren G’s Regulate to review the show, but man, that is a hella long song and I lost interest pretty quickly. Sometimes I get great ideas, this wasn’t one of them. So back to the show.

Wednesday night’s Buck 65 showcase was probably one of the two most hyped up showcases for the Summerworks Music series in 2012 (Evening Hymns being the other one). A veteran of the music scene, Buck 65 seems to be the type of artist that would be playing venues a lot larger then the Theatre Centre (which was packed) so the opportunity to see him in this space was rather unique. Doubling the uniqueness was the fact that Buck 65 was preforming songs he has never/rarely ever performed live. There was no doubt this was going to be a special evening.

Unshackled by the restraints that would come from say, a conventional show, Buck 65 let lose a series of songs that shows what a versatile songwriter he is. The man laid his rap verses down over a variety of music – from traditional hip hop beats to thrashing guitar riffs to just about everything else. If anyone was to take away anything from this set, it is that the man is rather experimental when picking the music to go with his flow. Visually, Buck 65 was accompanied by a host of dancers who provided interesting arrangements on all the tunes. Joining Buck 65 for a few songs was Choir Choir Choir a Toronto collective that started off as a choir, but then figured out that they are pretty good and now put on shows. Their numbers with Buck 65 was especially good and added to the overall collaborative energy that is Summerworks.

Overall, it was great night at the Theatre Centre that featured creative visuals, epic story telling, unique collaborations and good music from the man they call Buck 65.

Summerworks Review: Terre Haute (2012, Alistair Newton)

Posted on by Paul in Summerworks | Leave a comment

Much like the real life subjects upon which it’s characters are based, Terre Haute is a rather interesting play. Based on the correspondence between Gore Vidal and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh (represented here by two differently named but otherwise identical proxies), the play imagines a meeting between the two figures at the Terre Haute Correctional Complex just days before the McVeigh character (renamed Harrison for the play) is about to be executed.

While the staging is spare, director Alistair Newton makes an interesting and effective choice of rotating the set with each new scene so that we as an audience see the set from different perspectives, much like Vidal stand in James Brevoort wants to examine Harrison from a different perspective.

In examining the political motivations of Harrison as well as the differences and similarities between the two men, Terre Haute certainly offers up much food for thought and while the play doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of the bombing (or “the events,” as Harrison prefers to call it), it does present the bomber as a somewhat sympathetic and even likeable character at times. This is accomplished not just through the writing but through the performance of Todd Michael Sandomirsky. Both he and Terence Bryant fully inhabit their characters and help to make this an entertaining and thought provoking performance.

Remaining Dates:

Fri. August 17, 10:00 PM
Sat. August 18, 12:00 PM

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