Concert Review: Belle and Sebastian, Massey Hall, October 12

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything | 4 Comments

Toronto – Belle and Sebastian at Massey Hall was awesome, as expected. The Scottish band with a back catalog larger then most Hollywood wive’s shoe closet definitely brought their A game last night, resulting in a night of accumulating epicness. The night started off at a mild pace, with the band eager to show off the new songs from Write About Love, perhaps their best album of this decade. I would dare say songs such as I Want The World To Stop and I’m Not Living In The Real World will soon be added to the echelon of very popular B&S songs in short time. Featuring an entire string quartet, the 7 piece band showed off their musicianship throughout the entire night, sounding as sharp as I have ever heard them.

As the night rolled on, new songs paved way for older classics, and before you know it, it was an all out greatest hits show. I feel so blessed this year, to have heard two of my favorite all time songs – James’ Tomorrow and B&S’s Sleep the Clock Around live, and in amazing venues. As you would expect, the crowd response grew accordingly and by the time the encore hit, even parts of the gallery was standing. Belle and Sebastian played a total of 22 songs, but I’m sure we could of been there for another 22 and not a single person would have left.

Here are some other splendid moments:

- Stuart Murdoch asking a fan to apply mascara during Lord Anthony. This was after quite a search in the front row for someone with the proper mascara.

- The angry, angry middle age man in the first row in front of me, who was absolutely enraged that the front area got invaded by young and impressionable people. Enraged to the point he went to security to ask that they be removed, to which the security guy said “the band allowed it”. The man fumed for a few songs, then ended up standing up with his arms cross the rest of the night. Why even bother going to a show, man.

- Stevie Jackson asking the crowd to singalong to new tune I’m Not Living In The Real World in a C, and then a D, then a higher tone, then a lower one.

- The young seven or eight year old girl who went on stage to dance to The Boy With The Arab Strap. Consider that girl a B&S fan for life. I somehow feel compelled to point out that this is probably the peak of this girl’s concert going career.

- The complete awesomeness that was Sleep The Clock Around. Anytime you can listen to one of your favorite songs live in Massey Hall, you gotta do it. This ALMOST beats dancing to Sleep The Clock Around against a perfect sunset at Coachella in 2004. Almost.

- They played Legal Man, which was a non album single 2000. Always wonderful when a band plays a somewhat obscure song that you know at a show.

In short, the Belle & Sebastian concert was quite a night to remember. Stuart Murdoch is a great front man, with the appropriate amount of dry humor and of course, the Stuart Dance. The band was crisp and the set list had a chunk of classics. Sure, everyone had a list of songs they wanted to hear, and surely some of these songs were not played. Considering the band has released 8 albums and a b-sides double album, it was bound to happen. Now the hard part is waiting for them to return. I’ll be there.

Set List:
Read The Blessed Pages
Write About Love
Dylan In The Movies
I’m Not Living In The Real World
The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner
I Want The World To Stop
Lord Anthony
Sukie In The Graveyard
You Really Got Me (The Kinks cover)
Piazza, New York Catcher
I Didn’t See It Coming
I’m A Cuckoo
(I Believe In) Travelin’ Light
Dog On Wheels
The Boy With The Arab Strap
Legal Man
Simple Things
Sleep The Clock Around
Encore:
This Is Just A Modern Rock Song (err, 1 minute of)
Judy and the Dream of Horses
Me and the Major

08 – Belle and Sebastian – I Want The World To Stop by statemagazine

Concert Review: A.A. Bondy, the Walkmen, October 9, Phoenix

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 2 Comments

Playing at the Phoenix Concert Theater is a definitive stepping stone towards marking an act’s “arrival” on the map in Toronto. The familiar map of an indie band’s rise is often through seeing someone headline at Lee’s and graduate to the Phoenix, or open at one and headline at the other is a path most Toronto-based concert-goers will be familiar with. On the whole, the Phoenix isn’t a terrible venue; it’s larger for one, and well, that’s about it. I’ll echo the sentiments of most everyone else I know by saying it’s nice to see good bands graduate to larger audiences.

So on Saturday night, it was nice to see that AA Bondy had generated enough buzz to attract a pretty packed house. I guess I was pretty much the last person to figure out who this guy is, having missed his first splash as the lead singer of Verbena. For those of you unfamiliar with the folk act, lead man Scott Bondy is kinda reminiscent of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. At least based on what I heard skimming before the show; their set was notably a helluva lot noisier and more energetic but maybe they saved the faster stuff for the last half of their set (this was an early concert…they went on at 8:20 and the Walkmen took the stage at 9:40).

A.A. Bondy – Oh The Vampyre by Trip Fontaine

As for the Walkmen, I’m happy to report that they have not gone forgotten. The Walkmen were one of those bands that you used to hear a lot about until the floodgates of 2008-2009 unleashed a non-stop tidal wave of Brooklyn. That’s too bad, because 2008’s You & Me was one of the best releases of the year, harbouring the same downbeat chill-ergy that make an enjoyable album. I haven’t checked out this fall’s Lisbon yet, but based on what I heard last night they’re on the same moonbeam.

Live, everything takes a backseat to their lead singer (Hamilton Leithauser)’s incredibly soulful 21st century Joe Cocker-like pipes, and their drummer, Matt Barrick. While I think the projective quality of Hamilton’s singing is easy to imagine based on their studio work, what is always less noticeable (at least to me), is how much high quality drumming can raise the bar of a live show. My never-ending complaints of too loud drums are well documented so I was happy to see that someone has finally gotten it right.  Check them out performing the Rat on Letterman.

I couldn’t find their Toronto setlist but it looks comparable enough to their Boston show

If anyone has compiled their setlist, please post it here.

The Walkmen – Stranded by statemagazine

Concert Review: Ulrich Schnauss, Chapterhouse, October 6, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything | 5 Comments


Mr. Schnauss at SXSW

One of the paradoxical pain/pleasure points of going to a quintessentially 90’s reunion show is that you never know what to expect. I have been kind of disappointed with reunion tours in the past, and with the exception of Bauhaus’s Resurrection Tour back in 1998, find they sort of crush precious adolescent memories. Another thing I find is that unless you’re Wayne Coyne, aging rockers are eventually going to get sick and tired of churning out the same hit tunes over and over in live performances and wonderful treasured songs will lose their luster. In otherwords, unless it’s a tour explicitly (and transparently) to make a lot of money, I think we should let these guys play whatever they want.

For these reasons and more, I had kind of grounded expectations for the Chapterhouse show at Lee’s Palace last night, but the band’s promise of it being a one time only engagement held a lot of allure.

We apparently have maestro Ulrich Schnauss to thank for all of this. At first I thought Mr. Schnauss might be the namesake of a premium German dog food giant but he’s a pretty talented shoegaze-influenced electronica musician. I missed about 2/3 of his set, but I liked what I heard. In terms of what I saw, I’m glad he at least had the foresight to set-up reams of video footage instead of having us tinker around with his computer the entire time, I just wish he had taken a cue from the Flaming Lips‘ video projections. Yeah yeah, I know not everyone can have pulsating vaginas and cartoon bunny rabbits on display, but there has got to be something more to a video display than trippy footage of buildings. It kinda reminded me of Broadcast’s show from last year, only fortunately with much better music.

Chapterhouse at Lee's Palace
Derek took this, not sure if it was with his iPhone but maybe him and Ricky can have an iPhone concert photography face-off.

As for Chapterhouse, they really surprised me. First off, let me say that it helps tremendously when you start hitting your peak as a band in your early 20’s. There weren’t any of the familiar gasps of “holy shit, they got fuckin’ OLD” that we heard at Teenage Fanclub. In fact, I’d venture to say that 80% of the band still looks downright youthful, leading me to believe that they’ve managed to live clean, normal lives. Maybe they’re all school teachers now, chartered accountants, or running their own records stores.

What’s better is that they actually still sound good. I still say shoegaze is one of the most forgiving genres if you haven’t kept your vocal pipes in top order over the years (and that’s not really what it’s about anyway), because these guys certainly still know how to shred their instruments. Frankly, I was surprised that more people weren’t wearing earplugs, because I could easily envision my hearing degenerating past the point of no return as a result of going to a show like this. I’d be the granny version of Abe Simpson, or Larry David’s father on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But no, I think I’ve done enough damage to myself.

The good news is that the wall of sound thing is still great even with 31-NRR earplugs in, and the show was a great demonstration of the old adage that there is always a certain caliber of music that will always play well live. I feel this way even if the musicians choose to move less than a still-life painting, because you will never replicate the experience of hearing it at home like you will hearing it noisy and live. It helped that the boys seemed genuinely touched at the turnout and enthusiasm, and they were more bemused than anything else when obnoxious “requests” were constantly being shouted out throughout their set.

Here’s the setlist:

  1. Ecstasy II
  2. Treasure
  3. Falling Down
  4. Greater Power
  5. Something More
  6. April
  7. Then We’ll Rise
  8. Precious One
  9. Rain (Beatles cover)
  10. Autosleeper
  11. Breather
  12. Come Heaven
  13. In My Arms
  14. Pearl
  15. Love Forever

Encore:

  1. If You Want Me Play Video
  2. Inside Of Me Play Video

All in all, a grand evening.

Concert Review: Temper Trap, October 5, Phoenix

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Temper Trap, SXSW, March 19, Cedar Courtyard

Toronto – Tuesday night marked the third time that Australia’s Temper Trap visited Toronto in the past year and I am convinced it will be their last time in a mid size venue. So apologies to the poor people who were unable to obtain tickets to the sold out show on Tuesday, Kool Haus or Sound Academy for you! In case you were wondering, that picture was from SXSW this year, when we were a bit closer to the stage then on Tuesday, when the swelling crowd forced us to the comfy confines of the balcony.

The show started off shortly after ten with the band playing some drumming number to start the show. When that ended, a singular spotlight shone on lead singer Dougy Mandagi as he proceeded with the song Fools (I believe). Having seen the Temper Trap a few times now, it is clearly a vehicle for Dougy’s vocal skills. The man can hit a high note. He also likes to move his head around a lot when he’s singing. I kept on thinking he’s like one of those sistas in a Spike Lee movie. I kept on expecting him to break out of song and say something like “oh NO you didn’t” while waving his one finger. Regardless, the man has a voice and he uses it to great effect. Most of the show would have lighting prominently featured on Dougy, but I guess the band is cool with that.

As expected, the album Conditions was played in it’s entirety. The crowd reacted well to the more upbeat tracks such as Fader, Down River, the disco-esque Resurrection and of course, Sweet Disposition. Sweet Disposition is such an amazing song, it’s good live every time but I was expecting a larger crowd reaction, like this one:

I guess a Toronto crowd is a little more reserved. The Drum song soon followed including the now patented water on drums schtick. I knew it was coming, yet, it was still cool, especially with a light show. The encore included a new b-side that is only available via the charity site What’s the Word, a site against Malaria. You can donate a dollar and grab the song if you wish.

The show was good, and given that the band has been touring extensively for the past year, I think it’s time for them to go back to Australia and prepare for a follow up album. I have a sneaky suspicion that The Temper Trap could very well be the next Coldplay. They have a singer with a wonderful voice, a solid debut album that demonstrates that the band can write soaring arena-esque anthems and also, they are already suggesting people donate money to causes at shows. All Dougy really needs to do is marry a Hollywood actress. If the Temper Trap can build on and improve the songwriting formula that has gotten them this far, the sky’s the limit for them.

The Temper Trap – Fools by edsgms

Here’s my vid of temper trap, just for kicks