Concert Review: Asobi Seksu, February 27, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 1 Comment

I sometimes wonder what factors are involved when bands/promoters/whoever schedules a show. Seeing as yesterday was Oscar night and a Sunday, I suppose whoever is responsible for Brooklyn’s nu-gazers  Asobi Seksu these days figured they’d go for broke in Toronto.  The result? A fairly poorly attended set, which has its advantages for someone like me.

Advantage #1:

No crowds, cooler temperatures, and a good view of the stage from the Horseshoe’s back benches next to the sound guy. I didn’t have to get up once, nor did I want to.

Advantage #2:

Nu-gazers blitz through sets at a breakneck pace. Songs flow from each other without a break, and I suppose that’s part of the genre that makes for a more compacted live experience. That said, there is not what I would call extensive, soulful conversations between musician and attendee. Given the nature of the set, this is just fine by me.

Advantage #3:

The band might be more likely to fly by the seat of their playlist pants. Though I doubt this was the case on Sunday night, I might venture to say that there was more off Fluorescence and less off Citrus (still my favorite album of theirs), but that’s neither here nor there.

If it feels like I’m running out of things to say here, it’s because I don’t see too much in the way of growth since the last time I saw Yuki Chikudate and company breeze through town. That in itself isn’t too bad – it’s just stagnant, kinda hanging in the air there. Given what little I’ve heard and read about Fluorescence, everyone has come to know what to expect from these guys.

It was a pleasant enough hour-long set that saved me from having to see Kirk Douglas’s potential collapse and revival through defibrillation paddles onstage, and Anne “horse head” Hathaway’s student council leader take on the Oscars (James Franco was so dull he warrants no mention). Though sadly, I did have to abandon a bag of cheesy poofs at the Oscar Party.

Me & Mary by Polyvinyl Records

SXSW Preview: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Oil portrait by Joanna Marie Care

Toronto – First of all, you know your band is doing something positive when someone does an oil portrait of you. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr is a two man project composed of Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott. I had been receiving emails about the buzz that the band is generating since last June but because their band name reminded me of Dale Earnhardt, which reminded me of Nascar, I promptly ignored it. How stupid is that?

It was quite stupid. I rediscovered (or discovered?) this band whilst listening to a SXSW compilation. Amongst all the mediocre music you would expect from a compilation of a thousand or so songs, I was delighted to hear a catchy melodic track named Vocal Chords that evoked memories of jogging along the beach, buying a mango milkshake and eating an avocado sandwich. Of course, I have never done this before, but I can live vicariously through someone who has.

While it might seem like I’ve only been gravitating towards summery, breezy tracks that remind me of warmer times, one can’t deny this tracks overall quality. Many bands has done the whole “light folky pop backed by computer dance beats” tracks before, but few tracks come across as catchy as this one. The band’s debut album, It’s A Corporate World comes out April 26th and like all the other bands with albums out this year, they will be taking their show to SXSW. Here are the set time(s):

Wednesday March 16th, The Phoenix, 9PM

Check out the song I was talking about:
Vocal Chords-Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. by TimeOutNewYork

Concert Review: Morcheeba, February 21st, Phoenix

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments

Toronto – I am unsure when was the last time Morcheeba graced our city with their presence, but judging by the near capacity crowd at the Phoenix on Sunday, the answer was an implicit “too long”. In town as part of a lengthy North America tour to promote their seventh studio album Blood Like Lemonade, the London trip hop band played an absolutely splendid 110 minute set with songs that spanned their entire discography. It was a concert that surpassed all my expectations and undoubtedly left everyone a little warm on a frosty night. Taking a hint from Chris Martin, let’s take it back to the start.

I was a bit nervous about the concert prior to entering the confines of the Phoenix. Despite my appreciations for the album Blood Like Lemonade, I had heard very little press about it. The album seemed to just come and go by without much fanfare. A quick look at the charts indicated to me that the singles off that album failed to chart even in their homeland. The concert had been promoted without much fanfare and at a forty dollar charge, me and my friends had speculated it would be a sparsely attended show.

Luckily for me, I was completely wrong. Approaching the Phoenix, I was surprised to be greeted by scalpers at the front of the venue. More surprisingly, I saw people purchasing tickets from the scalpers. Entering the venue, I was shocked to find the Phoenix absolutely packed with people. Where did all these people come from? If there had ever been a further disconnect between what I perceived was popular and what was actually popular, this concert would have been exhibit A.

The band took the stage shortly after ten. On stage, Morcheeba are a six piece band, featuring a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, a man on keys, a man on decks and of course, the incomparable Skye Edwards. Donned in a flaming red home made dress and armed with hair that reached for the gods, Skye instantly commanded attention the second she took the stage. Starting with hit single The Sea (off 1998’s Big Calm) Skye used her velvety smooth voice to quickly mesmerize the crowd into a head bobbing state.

The rest of the set was a mixture of new and old. The beautiful thing about Morcheeba is that everything just transitions smoothly, whether it was the sing-along classic Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day or the new dramatic single Even Though, all the tracks just fit the Morcheeba sound – smooth and laid back vocals with groovy beats often punctuated by some slick guitar work or record scratches. The appreciative crowd seem to put the band in good spirits and Skye quickly won over the crowd with her seemingly genuine giddiness over the fans and the fact that it was indeed, a long weekend. The tracks off the new record came off as strong as any tracks off Big Calm or Charango highlighted by a wicked guitar solo at the tail end of title track Blood Like Lemonade. Only an ill advised attempt to generate a sing along to new track Beat of the Drum seemed to fall flat.

All in all, an excellent show. I didn’t get to hear Way Beyond but given the band’s vast discography, exclusions had to be expected. The band sounded crisp, Skye’s voice was magnificent and the crowd was into it. Morcheeba, I don’t know how often you tour, but I’ll be there next time you decide to visit us.

Some other tour dates
Feb 23, 2011 Minneapolis First Avenue United States
Feb 25, 2011 Aspen Belly Up Aspen United States
Feb 26, 2011 Denver Ogden Theatre United States
Mar 01, 2011 Seattle Showbox at the Market United States
Mar 03, 2011 Vancouver Commodore Ballroom Canada
Mar 04, 2011 Portland Roseland Theater United States
Mar 05, 2011 San Francisco The Warfield Theatre United States
Mar 06, 2011 Los Angeles The Music Box United States
Mar 08, 2011 San Diego House of Blues United States

Blood Like Lemonade – Morcheeba by [PIAS] Recordings

Concert Review: Wild Nothing, February 17th, Wrongbar

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – In a time where every up and coming buzz band is intent on creating abstract hookless unlistenable chill wave tracks, it has been refreshing to watch Wild Nothing‘s ascension to indie darlings. Undoubtedly influenced by the jangly hook laden melodies of new wave acts such as The Smiths, Wild Nothing has been riding a wave of momentum from their debut album Gemini – an album brimming with catchy dreamy choruses and an evocative longing sound that those eighties English bands had previously mastered. Ready and willing to take on the world, Wild Nothing took their act to a sold out Wrongbar on a rigid Thursday night and to quote the infamous Pete Doherty ” the world kicked back, a lot fucking harder now”.

Taking the stage at 11:30pm after a solid Abe Vigoda set, the band took the tiny Wrongbar stage to a great ovation. The ovation soon dimmed as the band spent most of their set battling their equipment. I’m not sure whether it was the equipment or the sound guy, but the band seemed mired in frustration the entire hour they were on, at one point of the set stopping a song completely halfway through and then restarting it from scratch. Any previous momentum gained by the band came to a complete halt at this point and the band then had to add crowd indifference alongside the sound guy to their list of problems. Sound problems aside, the band seemed content to let their music do the talking, rarely engaging the crowd besides the obligatory thank you remarks. This type of tactic might have worked in any other venue, but the Wrongbar is extremely small and intimate. The barely raised stage just begs for audience interactions and the lack of this seemed to once again dim the bands performance.

Having said all that, the songs, when working, sounded as good live as it did on album. Shimmering guitars weaved in and out of melodic choruses and songs such as Summer Holiday and Chinatown did make me feel glad I was able to make this show.

With all the technical difficulties and stage show drama (or lack thereof), it would be hard to classify this as a good show. However, good music is good music and everyone has bad days so I would be more than willing to check them out again the next time they are in town. You should too.

Wild Nothing – Summer Holiday by Surfing on Steam