Concert Review: Miami Horror, DVAS, April 1st, Mod Club

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – The Mod Club was home to one massive dance party on Friday night and the club crowd have Toronto’s DVAS and Australia’s Miami Horror to thank for it. I’ll be frank, I wasn’t even aware of Miami Horror until two months ago. Clearly, I was the only one as the Mod Club was sold out and there was a healthy lineup at the venue when I arrived there at midnight.

Making their Toronto debut Friday, Miami Horror wasted no time in living up to the lofty expectations the sold out crowd had for them by delivering an energetic rock star worthy show that had me thinking that this may be the last time that they play a small venue like the Mod Club. Miami Horror started out as synthesizer-obsessed producer Benjamin Plant, and has since grown into a full band. Anyone who has seen electronic music played out in concert with a live band will agree that it’s a way better solution then a bloke on a laptop. Armed with a guitar, Benjamin provided the vocals for all the tracks while delivering several rock star guitar moves. Clearly this man has taken lessons from other front men, for a band who is only one year old, Miami Horror played their set like veterans.

In a live setting, the songs from Miami Horror’s debut record Illumination jumps out at you with a relentless beat and just plain out dirty synth lines. Tracks like Holidays (originally sang by Alan Palomo of Neon Indian), Moon Theory and I Look To You provided worthy dance soundtracks for the very clubberific crowd, who for my money, was one of the best crowds I’ve seen in awhile. They danced for the openers, they danced for the in-between set DJs and they definitely danced for Miami Horror. As the set progressed and the band started delivering it’s singles, the dance floor turned out some crowd surfers, which for me is a rarity for any non hard rock acts. That’s a pretty good sign of a job well done.

Opening for Miami Horror was Toronto’s own synth loving duo – DVAS. A band that I’ve managed to miss seeing all of last year, DVAS’s two man act was a great way to start off the party vibe. Playing tracks off their 2010 debut record Society, DVAS provided a healthy dose of energy to the crowd although I thought some of the 80s guitar riffs on the tracks would have been better off with a live guitarist. I have since read that they do employ a guitarist on stage for shows, so maybe being an opening act on this particular night dissuaded the band from doing so. The band finished off a short five song set with their hit single Society which sounded as good as it does on album.

Armed with a solid debut album and a ridiculously fun and energetic live act, Miami Horror are well on their way to bigger things, check them out when you get the chance.

Holidays by Miami Horror (Official)

Concert Preview: Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, April 9, Sony Centre

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 2 Comments

Toronto – When it comes right down to it, Bugs Bunny is the reason I love Classical music. Watching the show was a staple of my Saturday morning routine. It had an ingenious way of melding music with animation to tell a story. There was so much tasteful craft that went into these soundtracks that the music was a character unto itself. This was a fortunate development for a generation of Classical music-lovers.

Bugs Bunny is the reason I love Classical music.

Picture a rising sun over a green meadow with a flock of peaceful sheep, just moments before they would be terrorized by that wily Wile E. Coyote. That music still evokes the gold standard of what “morning music” should be. Who could forget Bugs and Elmer’s antics in The Rabbit of Seville, or that infamous if morbid refrain, “Kill The Wabbit!” From Wagner, to Rossini, to Mozart; Bugs covered them all.

As I embark upon my nostalgic trip down memory lane, I’m still amazed at the level of craftsmanship to be found in those old cartoons. While they were funny and appealed to youngsters, they also offered sophisticated music, and ideas that spanned the globe. Sure, there were some cultural stereotypes that feel dated today, but watching Bugs explore his cartoon world broadened my own horizons. I  journeyed with him through the French Alps, the canals of Venice, the arctic tundra, and even Mars! We would be hard-pressed to find that tasteful a mix of entertainment and culture in the shows on offer today.

“Kill the Wabbit!!!” – Elmer Fudd

“Kill the Waaaabbit?” – Bugs Bunny

Thankfully, my trip down memory lane doesn’t have to end here. Conductor George Daugherty has partnered up with Bugs and the whole cast at Warner Bros to bring us Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. The year-long North American tour hits Toronto next Saturday with performances that include The Rabbit of Seville, and What’s Opera, Doc? Mr. Daugherty plays with a number of symphonies throughout his excursion. For the performance at the Sony Centre, he will be accompanied by the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.

Bugs Bunny at the Symphony plays at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday, April 9th.

Concert Review: Destroyer, March 31st, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – Often thought of as the cool one in the New Pornographers, Dan Bejar’s personal band Destroyer was in town on Thursday night to promote their ninth LP – Kaputt. Easily one of my favorite records of the year, Kaputt is one of those few albums you listen all the way through every time you listen to it. Filing into the sold out Lee’s Palace, it was pretty obvious that Kaputt had made a mark on many people as well.

Arriving on stage at around 11 pm, the band started off a Kaputt heavy set with the opening two tracks off the album – Chinatown and Blue Eyes before delivering It’s Gonna Take an Airplane off 2004’s Your Blues. It’s almost funny that Dan Bejar gets a pass on his live show performance because he’s Dan Bejar. Completely disengaged from the audience, the Destroyer front man barely made any attempt to talk to the crowd, often crouched down staring blankly at the crowd in between songs and occasionally reading from a lyric sheet. I get that Destroyer song lyrics are often long, complicated and cryptic, but it’s still something to see someone read off a lyric sheet at a show. However, he gets away with all of this because he is Dan Bejar, the man, the myth – if it was any other artist, I suspect that the crowd would definitely reactdifferently.

Despite the general disinterest from the front man in generating any sort of a stage show, the concert went about smoothly. I guess the music speaks for itself, and the band is tight. The brass section was incredible and highlighted a lot of the songs off Kaputt, which was rather brass heavy. I was kind of disappointed I didn’t get to hear Savage Night at the Opera with it’s New Order-esque guitar riffs, but I’m sure the crowd appreciated Destroyer bringing back select tracks from past albums, such as My Favorite Year and 3000 Flowers. Pairing the older Destroyer tracks with the newer ones created quite a stark contrast I thought, as the older tracks were more guitar heavy, and then the ambient disco beats would start off again and you would be like ‘yep, that’s off the new album’. It’s quite impressive how the band can switch up sounds so easily from album to album. I for one, prefer the latter material.

The set finished off with the epic 11 minute track Bay of Pigs, which has one of the truest opening lines of any song – “Listen, I’ve been drinking” Bejar says, but if that’s all it takes for Dan Bejar and Destroyer to continue to make excellent music, then I say, drink on.

Blue Eyes
It’s Gonna Take an Airplane
My Favorite Year
3000 Flowers
Painter in Your Pocket
Suicide Demo
Song for America

Bay of Pigs

SXSW: The Final Recap – What we loved, hated, etc.

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | 5 Comments


Toronto – Are you sick of our SXSW coverage yet? I’m not, but I love that festival and will forever love it. No matter how much I gripe about any problems, make no mistake, SXSW is one of my favorite things on Earth. There is a reason why most people who go once, go again and again. It’s fantastic. Here are our final thoughts from the Panic Manual crew regarding this festival.

Best Act

Matt & Kim

Ricky: For me, it was OMD. It’s almost unfair, they have a few tracks that shall remain forever timeless, so there’s no way some newbie act will be able to compete with that. Matt & Kim were awesome as well, but I’ve seen them now five times, so I knew what to expect.

Paul: Matt & Kim

Derek: Can I pick two? The Vaccines & Matt & Kim @ Fader Fort

Gary: Datarock, uber energetic and confusingly sophisticated beneath the obnoxious red tracksuits.

Best Moment

Asobi Seksu, SXSW 2011, March 19, 2011 127.jpg

Ricky: While this year lacked extremely memorable moments (aka Late of the Pier fist fights with security), one of the most heartfelt moments was seeing Edwyn Collins stand up to sing his hit single A Girl Like You. If you know anything about his recent physical troubles, then you can appreciate how Collins, who walks with a cane and sat for most of the show, put forth the effort to stand up and perform his most popular track in front of a relatively small crowd. What a performer.

Paul: Damien Jurado telling the noisy people at the back of the bar to shut up while he was playing. Take that, concert douchebags!

Gary: Getting knocked around by an Asobi Seksu fangirl then getting told-off by a baldheaded guy because I stepped on his girlfriend’s shoe and then getting support from fellow concert goers.

Derek: Fist bumping Aziz Ansari? OMD at the SPIN afternoon? Backstage for Matt & Kim? I could go on, but it was all great.

Biggest Surprise

Joy Formidable

Ricky: Jonquil and Clock Opera were both exceptional bands that I had previously heard of, but never heard. I’m a fan of both now.

Paul: The Joy Formidable filling in for Raphael Saadiq at Fader Fort. I didn’t know much about them beforehand, but they put on a hell of a show. Also, meeting Troy and Abed from Community out in the street was pretty cool too.

Gary: John Grant.

Derek: Jonquil at the British Embassy were great!

Biggest Disappointment

Ricky: Obviously, missing all of Saturday was a disappointment, but that was unavoidable. Romany Rye was disappointing, but I don’t even know where I heard of them from. They sounded like a jam band that played some random saloon on a highway pit stop.

Paul: Olof Arnalds. She’s got a decent sound, but a little of her goes a long way.

Gary: Toro y moi. It was so disappointing that I forgot about it

Derek: I was hoping for more from Olaf Arnalds. I was also quite disappointed with Those Dancing Days no-show (visa issues)

Best Food

Ricky: How can you pick between the best burger on Earth (Casino El Amino) and one of the best bbq spots I had ever been to (Salt Lick)? You don’t. Call it even.

Paul: Tough call. It was all pretty good. I’ll go with Chuy’s.

Gary: Iron Works; having a beef rib wrapped around my face is gleefully delicious each time, no matter how repetitious.

Derek: It was a tie: Salt Lick and Chuy’s

Big Thanks

Our time at SXSW this year was greatly enhanced by Blackbeard Rum, who provided us with many free spiced rum & pepsi drinks at the Spin Loft. There rum was good enough that one of our photographers went to the liquor store and bought a bottle on his way home to the hotel. Apparently, they are new on the market and made by the same Puerto Ricans who make DonQ. I would also like to thank Havianas for giving me free custom flip flops and also to the company Case-Mate for giving me and various people free Iphone skins. Check out their site, you can customize your own case. I’m a sucker for free stuff, what can I say.

Finally, here is me riding a white carousel