TO Fringe Review: One Good Marriage

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

Toronto – Steph (Mel Marginet) and Stewart (Matthew TenBruggencate) are a recently married couple. They dated, they got married, they went on their honeymoon, and when they came back, they found out that everyone who came to their wedding reception was dead.

Oddly enough, this is actually a very funny show.

As you can imagine, Steph and Stewart are not particularly happy people. They tell the story of their relationship, their engagement, and wedding while dancing around what happened at the reception, occasionally pausing when Steph gets too worked up. To prevent her from having an anxiety attack, Stewart has her close her eyes and think of household objects (“think of a pencil. A blue pencil. Think of a clothespin, but the wooden kind, not the plastic ones,” etc.). Eventually they reveal what happened, how they were totally out of touch when the story hit the news, and missed all the funerals by the time they got back from the honeymoon.

Their pain and guilt is heartbreaking, but somehow Marginet and especially TenBruggencate manage to keep it light throughout most of the show. They’re funny and charming, really a couple you’d be happy to know, even as they talk about how they represent death. It doesn’t sound funny, but somehow they manage it. The dialogue is very good, the plot really does a nice job answering the question of what it would be like if all your friends and family suddenly died at the same time, the simple staging works well, but the interplay between the two actors is what really makes it work. Very nice piece from Winnipeg’s Theatre by the River.

One Good Marriage plays at Venue 3. Check your Fringe program or the online play listings for showtimes.

Song of the Day: Allo Darlin – Kiss Your Lips

Posted on by Ricky in Song of the Day | 1 Comment

Toronto – Most people from Hong Kong are usually fashionably late. This is now my excuse for not discovering twee/indie pop outfit Allo Darlin until around now. I’m just fashionably late.

Allo Darlin is a London based band featuring the singing talents of Australia’s Elizabeth Morris. Call it a Commonwealth connection. They released a self-titled album last year that was well received by everyone. With a lovely blend of ’60s inspired folk pop sound and a summery disposition, Allo Darlin seems primed for some listening in these next couple months. Check out this track called “Kiss Your Lips” which features an excerpt from a well known band.

TO Fringe Review: Uncalled For presents: Hypnogogic Logic

Posted on by Brian in Fringe, Reviews, Theatre | 2 Comments

Toronto – It’s probably no small thing to win the “Just For Laughs Best Comedy Award” at the Montreal Fringe, which improv troupe Uncalled For’s Hypnogogic Logic did last year. I mean, Just for Laughs does the Just for Laughs festival. And those rarely funny TV standup shows. And Just For Laughs Gags, which is actually not very funny at…hmm.

Anyway, Uncalled For are very funny indeed, and Hypnogogic Logic proves it in a series of oddball sketches from inside somebody’s not-quite-asleep mind. This is hypnogogia, the state of mind you enter in when you’re about to fall asleep, and it’s a setup that gives Uncalled For the excuse to fire off a series of truly bizarre sketches.

Not every sketch is howlingly funny, but Uncalled For rolls between them effortlessly with the polish of a skilled, seasoned troupe. The best are a post-apocalyptic cooking show where the contestants have to use ingredients like cockroaches and guano or be banished to the radioactive mutant zone, a street preacher who claims that all life’s answers can be found in the dictionary, and the hard-boiled officers of the “Falling Wish Foundation,” who refuse wishes for money and love but grant a wish to bring Freddie Mercury back to life.

It’s great sketch comedy and well worth a look. You might want to try and get advance tickets; their first show was a near sellout and they’re getting great reviews.

Uncalled For presents: Hypnogogic Logic plays at Venue 3. Check your Fringe program or the online play listings for showtimes.

Review: Roskilde Festival, July 2/3 – Bad Religion, Janelle Monae, Justin Townes Earle

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

Bad Religion

Roskilde – Whoever does the music programming for the Roskilde Festival really must be commended.  Having already seen acts as diverse as Portishead, Kylesa and Shangaan Electro, the remaining days proved to be equally eclectic and perhaps even better. 

Things started out on an interesting note with post-punk/industrial/metal pioneers Kiling Joke.  Clad in a camouflage jumpsuit and often lumbering across the stage like Frankenstein’s monster, singer Jaz Coleman took on the role of an angry prophet of doom.  His between song banter consisted of a series of  Howard Beale-esque rantings like “the European Union is in trouble,” “there are no more fish in the ocean,” and more cryptically, “soon, they’ll attack the supermarkets.”  Each of these rantings segued perfectly into the title of the next song and worked to create a perfect mood to match their music.  In fact, Coleman seemed a little miffed when bassist Martin “Youth” Glover asked the crowd if they were having a good time between songs as if it were breaking the angry comspiracy theorist mood he was trying to create. 

The Ex

One of the most impressive acts I saw was Dutch art-punkers The Ex.  I had known the band by reputation and heard a bit of their music, but was not quite prepared for it to be quite as good as it was.  Known for their love of collaboration, the group was performing on this occasion with Italian jazz trumpeter Roy Paci, who played on their most recent album Catch My Shoe.  For a band that’s been going for 32 years (though admittedly not with all of it’s original members), these guys had an incredible amount of energy, jumping and flailing about the stage with the energy and enthusiasm of teenagers.  Also delivering an energetic set was Swedish electronic act Little Dragon.  Dancing, posing, and twirling (yes, twirling) across the stage, singer Yukimi Nagano is a totally engaging, charismatic frotwoman.  I expect to hear more from this band in the future.

One of the more unique acts of the festival was Congotronics Vs. Rockers.  It was essentially a massive jam session made up of 19 musicians from six different bands – Konono No. 1, Kasai Allstars, Deerhoof, Wildbird and Peacedrums, Skeletons, and Juana Molina – all of whom had participated in the Tradi-Mods Vs. Rockers CD compilation.  It was really pretty impressive to see that many musicians from various musical backgrounds playing together and they all seemed to be having a lot of fun up there.  Of course, as would be expected with that many musicians, the logistics of organizing it all didn’t go 100% smoothly as it seemed that certain instruments were not always as prominent in the mix as they should be.  Still, this was one of the highlights of the entire festival, and well worth skipping out on most of The Strokes’ mainstage set.  Luckily, Julian Casablancas and company frontloaded their set with a lot of hits and I walked away after about half an hour satisfied that I had seen enough.

Autopsy

Due to the abundance of mud, I decided to stay at the Odeon stage after Congotronics Vs. Rockers to check out old school death metallers Autopsy.  The metal faithful were out in full force, eager to hear something heavy and brutal at 1:00am, and Autopsy did not let them down.  I enjoyed their set, but not being overly familiar with their stuff, I felt that I had had enough after 4 or 5 songs.  I do have to comment, however, on the fact that guitarist Danny Coralles seemed to be wearing trackpants on stage.  Sure, he offset this by wearing studded gauntlets onstage, thus upping the metal quotient, but to quote from Seinfeld, when you wear sweatpants, you’re telling the world, “I give up.”   I know death metal has never been the most glamorous of genres, but come on, put a pair of jeans on.  Or at least some shorts.  Shorts would be better.

By Sunday, lack of sleep had gotten the best of me and so a conscious decision was made to see less bands and take it easy.  California punk legends Bad Religion were on my list of must sees and put on a pretty solid set full of songs from throughout their 32 year career.  “This is a song from the 20th Century … back when we were good,” joked vocalist Greg Graffin and as with all good jokes, there was a good bit of truth to it.  This is not to say that their newer material is bad, but the older songs certainly got a bigger reaction from the crowd.

Justin Townes Earle

Also getting a big reaction from the crowd was Janelle Monae.  With a great band, a great voice, and a top notch stage show, it’s hard to fault anything she does.  She even managed to incorporate covers of Stevie Wonder and The Jackson Five into her set.  Yet despite all this and despite the fact that a guest spot from Big Boi on “Tightrope” was pretty much inevitable (although according to this Pitchfork review, he didn’t make an appearance), I just wasn’t really feeling it.  What I needed instead was to close out the festival with something a little more intimate from an equally impressive performer – Justin Townes Earle.    While his stage show couldn’t compete with Monae’s in terms of spectacle, Earle is a talented guitarist and songwriter as well as an accomplished storyteller.  Accompanied only by another guitarist, Earle made it feel like a performance in a small club rather than a side stage at a massive festival.  He closed things off with a cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait.”  The song was a perfect reflection of how I felt at that moment.  Roskilde was great, but after 4 days of music, mud and little sleep, I could hardly wait to get out of there and get some rest.