Concert Review: Stacey, Kirty, Maccie, Helena Deland – Silver Dollar, January 20

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Stacey. Kirty. Maccie. Helena.

At first glance it sounds like some sort of Millenial show about teenage girls in California who go and solve mysterious crimes, but upon closer inspections, it’s actually the name of four up and coming musical acts.

They all gathered to play Friday night at the Silver Dollar as a part of Exclaim’s Class of 2017 showcase. The showcase was co-presented with the Canadian music blog Ride The Tempo. For me it was a continuation of a week where I saw bands I basically never heard about or heard of. A rare turn of events for this old soul. The crowd was a youthful one, it was good to be surrounded by youth, if only I could somehow absorb their energy and essence via osmosis or something.

First on the show was Helena Deland. Hailing from Montreal, Helena Deland has been slowly getting steam lately with all kinds of articles written about her from all those music sites that actually keep up to date with new music. A solid act working with only a guitar, Helena showed off her angelic voice and showered the decently sized crowd with a set of minimal but effective songs that evokes memories of some sort. Not sure what, but it was all pretty good.

The next act on the bill was Maccie, a two person act who brought the most energy of the night. The lead singer, whatever her name was (maybe it’s Maccie) was a fireball of energy, dancing it up and at one point, even doing a kip up much to the crowd’s delight. The music featured some strong 80’s era guitar ballad solos that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The third act was Kirty, who’s soft voice brought an easy listening almost summer vibe to the Silver Dollar. Some of the music bordered on country, some on folk but they all kind of worked together. Kirty also gets the points for most people on stage at once. I guess she is part of the Fast Romantics as well, but I think she should just stick to her solo stuff.

Last on the bill was Stacey. With the lights dimmed and featureing moody sounds, it was an interesting turn of mood going from the summery sounds of Kirty to the late night vibes of Stacey. Her cover of Build Me Up (Buttercup) at first had me feeling a bit cautious but the stripped down version had me won over by the time it hit the chorus. Maybe now I’ll associate it less with Something About Mary.

Concert Review: Keaton Henson, Great Hall, January 17

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Keaton Henson is an English musician who has amassed a somewhat intense following. How do I know this? It was raining outside on Tuesday night and people were lining up to get into the venue. The show also sold out in two hours according to a well placed source. Seriously though, it was raining and cold and you will always have a great sightline at the Great Hall at full capacity. So either people did not know that, or they were very intense fans. I chose to believe the latter. Keaton has built up the following with a career that has spanned 5 albums, most of which were probably good (I have no idea). He has also benefited from the use of his music on the BBC3 Show, In The Flesh as well as the modern day Sherlock Holmes show Elementary which is already in it’s 5th season? wtf?

Anyways, point was, it was popular show.

One thing of particular intrigue regarding Keaton Henson is that he suffers from chronic anxiety and as such, rarely ever plays shows. Normally this would be a thing where you are like oh wow, this is cool to see, but actually seeing someone overcome their issue for the purpose of art was rather inspiring. Upon taking the stage, Keaton rarely addressed the crowd, and when he did so, it was in a quiet tone. When he performed on the piano, it was situated in a way so he would face away from the crowd, which Keaton clearly preferred. Kudos to that guy for facing his fears, it was a act of bravery in my opinion.

Along with a cellist, Henson played an hour long show showcasing his graceful voice and his knack for wonderful arrangements. I had never heard any music of his before the night and it came off as a Sufjan Stevens – Ryan Adams kind of vibe, only more precious. The crowd was loving every moment and perhaps sensing the artist’s uncomfortable nature on stage, did their best to encourage the singer. It was all very warm, which really, in today’s tumultuous times, is exactly what everyone needs.

Concert Review: Cherry Glazerr, January 24, Velvet Underground

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If one were to be so bold as to read the comments under any of the videos for songs off of Cherry Glazerr’s latest album Apocalipstick, they might notice a few fans complaining about missing the “old sound” of the original lineup of the band. It’s a common complaint, and one I’ve likely been guilty of with many acts I’ve followed for awhile, but after seeing the current configuration of Cherry Glazerr live at the Velvet Underground, I can attest that they come across as pretty damn fierce in concert.

The whole band put on an impressive show, but singer Clementine Creevy definitely stood out as the focal point, howling her way through some keyboard drenched indie/punk jams. Creevy’s stage banter also stood out as a highlight of their set, especially her thoughts on trying poutine for the first time (she wasn’t entirely sold on it). She also made it clear how grateful the band is to be able to do what they do. “This is what we do for a living which is stupid and awesome. We shouldn’t be allowed to do this.” She went on to mention several times throughout the night how much fun they were having. Not that she needed to – it was pretty self-evident.

SXSW Song Of The Day: Spiral Stairs – Dance (Cry Wolf)

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Photo by Steven Simko

As the 2017 edition of SXSW approaches, more announcements, both official and unofficial, are starting to come out and last week, SXSW dropped a few more names. Among those names is former Pavement guitarist Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs, who will be appearing at SouthBy to promote his upcoming release Doris And The Daggers. The album includes contributions from members of The National, Broken Social Scene and Shudder To Think while lead single “Dance (Cry Wolf)” features an appearance from Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle in the video.

Doris And The Daggers is out March 24 on Nine Mile/Domino.