HotDocs review: David wants to fly [2010, David Sieveking]

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Hot Docs, Reviews | 10 Comments

Toronto – I hate people who require spoon-feeding. So when after 15 minutes of interesting questions someone in the audience asks in a sentence too long to finish in one breath “what is the theme and the moral admonishment of the film”, I got up and left immediately. These are the same people who submits to transcendental meditation (TM, which incidentally would suck all logic out of the universe to trademark… because that’s like asking Batman to adorn/identify himself by wearing a smaller batman on his head). And TM, we are told in this film, was invented by a now deceased charlatan guru, is currently championed by David Lynch and other celebrities, owns and operates companies that sell drugs/vitamins, builds temples of invincibility and peace that houses no one while millions sleep in the sewers, and cannot help you find your inner self if your inner self hasn’t already found itself.

Basically, film school student David Sieveking had problems. He set out to learn about TM, which his idol Lynch said helped him become a better filmmaker. Upon acquiring the necessary tuition – 6 fresh fruits, 1 yellow flower, 1 white candle, and EU$2,308, he was given his person mantra and told to repeat it while meditating. Because his life arguably deteriorated, the disgruntled student started to explore the inner workings of TM instead, and found the story of the corporation to be full of holes, but their pockets full of cash. Slogans runs like “We will build City of Tranquility with 8,000 yogi fliers praying for world peace. You can’t ever visit them otherwise they will be polluted by the modern world”. Sieveking traces meditation all the way back to the Himalayan temple where the guru came from, and learned the truth about the guru and his own inner peace at last.

I do feel bad for David Lynch. His namesake interviewed him systematically, baiting for answers with questions. It was clear that Sieveking began the film with the expressed purpose of exposing TM. The scenes between David and Marie was quite obviously scripted, and the entire film looks like a satire with occasional pokes at Lynch. But I do believe the authenticity of the footage and what they portrayed. The interviews with past TM members around the world put into perspective the breadth of the population a movement like this can prey on. The most hilarious moment came when the Raja of Germany broke ground for the Tower of Invincibility at a WWII site in Berlin. The crowd reaction was golden.  Overall as an investigative piece the film was informative enough. But the antics were a little overdone, and detracts from the real message of the film.

Concert Review: Everybody Was In The French Resistance … Now!, May 8, El Mocambo

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – Any band that has their own theme song is alright by me.  These were my first thoughts as I watched Everyone Was In The French Resitance … Now! (EWITFRN) open their set with their self titled theme song.  Think about it: The Monkees, Black Sabbath … um … Big Country?  All had theme songs, which made them that much better.  Ok, maybe not so much with Big Country, but you get my drift.  I also love answer songs, and EWITFRN brought the answer songs coming all night long.  “There is a theme to this band, and it’s not just me talking about other shows we’ve done,” said frontman Eddie Argos by way of introduction.  The basic theme is this: Argos writes songs in response to any previously written song that has pissed him off in some way.  Even songs by the Archies that no one else has heard of and that aren’t even on The Archies’ Greatest Hits (That’s right, I own The Archies’ Greatest Hits).  He was quick to point out that  they were not just Jon Bovi from SNL, writing the opposite of each chosen song … although their answer to Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright” is called “Do Think Twice, It’s Not Alright,” so sometimes they’re an opposite band.  But that’s OK because that song was exellent and hilarious, even incorporating elements of U2’s “With Or Without You” at the end. 

Speaking of hilarious, Argos is one of the funniest, most engaging frontmen I have seen in a while.  His witty, self-deprecating banter is a natural extension of his songwriting.  Sample banter: “Bob Dylan’s very good at break ups, I’m not.  That’s the only difference between us.  We’re even the same age physically.”  He also went on about how he appreciates being in Canada because we understand his references to chip shops and later claimed that Avril Lavigne is stalking him.  That latter comment segued into “G.I.R.L.F.R.E.N.”, their answer to Lavigne’s “Girlfirend,” which they then followed with a cover of The Rubinoos’ “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” (The Rubinoos also did the awesome title track from the Revenge Of The Nerds soundtrack.  Sadly, EWITFRN did not cover this)

As I said, the songs were great, Argos’ stage banter was top notch, and the band was pretty sharply dressed to boot.  So why was the venue half empty?  I noticed sparse attendance at the last Art Brut show at Lee’s Palace and Ricky reported on a similar situation at SXSW.  So why are you sleeping on this, people?  Get with the Eddie Argos program … now!

Concert Review: Massive Attack, May 9th, Sound Academy

Posted on by Brian in Concerts | 8 Comments

Image courtesy B. Mayer’s Flickr Photostream, licensed under Creative Commons. Taken during “Teardrop” during Massive Attack’s Melbourne, Australia show. It looked pretty much the same in Toronto.

You know, I’d never seen the same band in quick succession during a single tour before this weekend. The list of bands I’d even consider going to two shows in, say, the same weekend is pretty short.

But Massive Attack is at the top of that list, so after attending Friday’s Massive Attack show at Sound Academy with a select few members of the Panic Manual family, I ventured to Sound Academy again on Sunday, alone, to see my favourite band of the past 12 years or so for the second time in three days as a kind of pre-30th birthday present to myself.

Before I give my thoughts, you’d best read Ricky’s review of Friday’s show first. Look at the set list he gives for sure, because it was the same on Sunday. And now, since I’m not very into paragraphs today and can’t really organize my thoughts coherently after two late night shows in three days (I am about to turn 30, after all), here’s some loosely connected observations and opinions of Massive Attack weekend:

- Everything Ricky says about how bad Sound Academy is is true. I’d actually never been to this venue before, and it’s everything Ricky’s frequent bitching about it says it is. The sound system is good, and at least on Sunday the fire alarm didn’t go off repeatedly like it did Friday. But it’s an awful venue.

- I personally think Ricky’s 4-rating of Friday’s show was generous. I felt for whatever reason the band didn’t really hit their stride until “Angel,” which was only two songs from the encore break. Considering my sky-high expectations going in I probably would’ve given it a 3.

- That said, Sunday’s show seemed a lot tighter for two reasons: Martina Topley-Bird was better, and Robert Del Naja (aka 3D) was more engaged early on. Even during tunes he wasn’t singing, 3D was dancing, moving around the stage like the de facto frontman/conductor that he is, and was generally a lot more lively than on Friday. I still found there was a lull in the middle of the set before the band exploded into “Angel,” but it didn’t encompass the whole first half of the show like it did on Friday night.

- I fully believe that Massive Attack playing “Angel” is perhaps the greatest concert experience I have had and will ever have. Horace Andy just kills this song live. The way this dark, brooding tune builds and how loud the guitar riff comes in and hits you full force…it’s magic, it really is. They could play this song at the beginning, middle and end of their set and I would love it every time.

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Concert Review: Broken Social Scene, May 9, Sonic Boom!

Posted on by Brent in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – To show appreciation for their fans a few days after their fifth album Forgiveness Rock Record was released, Broken Social Scene came up with the clever idea of four in-store concerts Sunday at Criminal Records (2pm), Rotate This (4pm), Soundscapes (6pm), and Sonic Boom (8pm). The album was coincidentally released on the same day as New Pornographers’ Together album.

One could call it an east coast vs. west coast indie super-group rivalry or just some fictitious marketing ploy done up in an article a couple weeks ago by New York Magazine. Either way, one of the hardest working bands in Canadian rock today were still full of energy after a long day and able to plough out a set of just under an hour in the sweaty basement of Sonic Boom. Two lines snaked throughout the store with the “non-ticket holders” line being far longer. The band’s crew was in the back room entertaining themselves with friends and family all out in support. It’s always a family affair at a BSS show and this was no different tonight with Kevin Drew bringing his parents along to celebrate Mother’s Day, even singing his mother a slightly satirical ballad to thank her for all the support over the years. Along with Drew, Brendan Canning, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Justin Peroff, Lisa Lobsinger, and Sam Goldberg rounded out the main lineup. As well, Julie Doiron was invited on stage to sing with Lobsinger on Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl and their horn section on several other songs. Broken Social Scene begin their European tour in London this Thursday.