TO Fringe Review: The LOVE Octagon

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre | Leave a comment

Toronto – I will now use this space to express my unending adoration for pretty much everything Ron Pederson and Chris Craddock produce, much like I usually do.

<gushing and fawning praise goes here>

Ok, with that out of the way, their new show The LOVE Octagon, really is very good improv. Pederson and Craddock, with Waylen Miki providing atmosphere music on the keyboard, start the same way many an improv show begins: by getting suggestions from the audience. Only here, instead of getting names of settings and occupations, they take audience stories about love. Breakups, heartbreak, even stories of people who are happy and in love.

With the character names and setups they get from these stories, Craddock and Pederson spin four stories about love that interweave, go in bizarre directions, and are just generally hilarious. The two will drop a scene when it gets stale, move to one of the other three storylines, then come back to the characters again later on without missing a beat. Watching these two improv masters keep all four stories going with little more than a few cues written on a whiteboard and the occasional out-of-character conference to the side of the stage that’s often as funny as the in-story action is amazing.

In the show I saw, the audience provided plenty of inspiration, particularly one guy in the front row who said that he and his girlfriend broke up because he felt that they were going to grow apart, a phrase the two came back to in some variation repeatedly. Like a lot of improv shows, LOVE Octagon occasionally goes off the rails a little, with the occasional mimed blowjob gag and Jesus turning up in one scene with an English accent and trying to have a threesome with two young Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Mostly, though, it’s just great improv from two masters, and one of the best bets for laughs at the Fringe.

The LOVE Octagon plays at Venue 10. Check your Fringe program or the online play listings for showtimes.

Song of the Day: The Vaccines – Norgaard

Posted on by Ricky in Song of the Day | 3 Comments

The Vaccines

Toronto – Around February or so, The Vaccines were all the rage. I saw them three times in a span of a month between their free show at the Horseshoe and SXSW. Then I kind of forgot about them. Only recently did I remember, oh hey, that Vaccines band that I enjoyed…they actually have an album out now. I was able to get What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? last week and I can’t stop listening to it. It’s short, but efficient. Most if not all the songs on the album are catchy and while they wear their garage rock influences on their sleeves, all the tracks sound surprisingly fresh. Probably my favorite half an hour album since the Pigeon Detectives debut a few years ago.

Norgaard is one of the standout tracks off the album. It’s a track about the model Amanda Norgaard and while the lyrics “she’s only 17 and probably not ready” comes off as a bit…creepy, you can’t deny this track’s energy and enthusiasm. It also happens to be the band’s next single, how coincidental.

Some tour dates
9/8 Seattle, WA Crocodile Café
9/9 Vancouver, BC Venue
9/10 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
9/13 Los Angeles, CA Music Box
9/14 San Diego, CA The Casbah
9/18 Austin, TX ACL
9/21 Chicago, IL Lincoln Hall
9/22 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
9/24 Philadelphia, PA Popped Festival
9/25 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
9/27 Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theatre
9/28 Montreal, QC Corona
9/30 New York, NY Webster Hall
10/1 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg

Here’s the video

TO Fringe Review: Boyfriends

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre | Leave a comment

Toronto – I suppose if I hadn’t read the play description for Boyfriends on the Fringe website before gonig to the show, I probably wouldn’t have got that the three male leads in the show are supposed to be Peter Falk, John Cassavetes and Ben Gazzara in the 1960’s.

I mean, I probably would’ve gotten the 1960’s part. And I might’ve gotten that the one actor was doing a young Peter Falk (I don’t know the actor’s name, as there was no program that I could see and the company ahs no website). Of course, I couldn’t pick the real John Cassavetes or Ben Gazarra out of a lineup, but I digress.

Anyway, Boyfriends would probablybe enjoyable even if you didn’t know who the three male characters were supposed to be, thanks to how good the three actors are, their dialogue, and their chemistry and charm. In the story, the three have a contest to see if any of them, in turn, can get a call girl they invite over to fall in love with them.

It’s not a very nice game to play, of course, and it’s destined to end badly, but there’s more than a few laughs along the way, especially from Cassavetes’ motormouth, and a few tender moments, particularly with Falk’s vulnerability. A cynical Gazzara just comes across as mean-spirited, however, and as the plot grinds to it’s inevitable conclusion, with the escort getting upset at being the subject of this game and storming out, the play kind of limps to its conclusion and never does find a strong note to end on.

Still, the three male leads are quite good, the dialogue is snappy, and it’s probably even better if you know who these people are in real life.

Boyfriends plays at Venue 13. Check your Fringe program or the online play listings for showtimes.

Mainstream Song of the Day: Beyonce – Love on Top

Posted on by Ricky in Song of the Day | 2 Comments

Toronto – Not exactly an indie track but you gotta give props where props are due. This track off Beyonce‘s fourth album is just a lovely soul pop tune that takes you back to the days when Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey ruled the world.

With horns blazing, “Love on Top” could be a ’70s Motown track or a late 80’s diva pop hit. I can’t put my finger on it. Either way, it’s refreshing to hear a pop track without computer effects. Probably my favorite Beyonce track since “Crazy in Love.” I like “Single Ladies” as well, but it gets annoying because once I get that song in my head, it never leaves. The worst example of this was in Spain, when I played it on top of Montserrat out loud for everyone to hear. Yup. Actually aside from those three songs and “Naughty Girl,” I can’t name another Beyonce song. However, you should still check this track out.