Concert Review: Patrick Watson, May 2, Trinity St. Paul’s United Church

Posted on by Brian in Concerts | 4 Comments


The opener played tunes on what looked like a big wooden Gameboy. The lighting cast huge, eerie shadows on the wall behind the band, shadows broken only by the lights strung on three dead-looking potted trees. The first song featured a hand-cranked wind machine and a wailing lament in his trademark dreamy high voice. He played what looked like a raggedy miniature piano for one song that he admitted the band fished out of the garbage. He topped it off by walking into the crowd with a strange speaker contraption strapped to his back made of megaphones. And it all took place in a church.

Yes, it’s just another day in the world of Patrick Watson. We’re all just lucky he gives us a glimpse of that world every now and then.

Watson’s press bio calls him a “musical mad scientist,” as apt a description as there is of what he does. On stage last Saturday he looked the part as he scurried about the stage from the front stage microphone to his piano to the wind machine and everywhere else, his mad musical creations whirling about the shadowy church. You’d almost expect him to shout “IT’S ALIVE” to the crowd, if he weren’t so busy singing. With his very talented bandmates Mishka Stein, Simon Angell and Robbie Kuster aiding in the creation, Watson put on a stunning show of songs from his terrific new album Wooden Arms.

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Hot Docs Review – Broke [Rosie Dransfeld, 2009]

Posted on by Wade in Everything, Hot Docs, Movies | Leave a comment

A few things about being broke that I have noticed over the past few months

1. You will eat a three-year-old box of Kraft Dinner and you will enjoy it.
2. You will always find money for alcohol.
3. Being home beats the shit out of getting up and going to work.

This movie, BROKE, was really good. It is a Canadian doc about an Edmonton pawnshop owner and the daily running of his business. They filmed it basically by putting a camera and sound guy in the pawnshop and filming what went down.

I found myself laughing out loud several times. The arrogant, rude, yet innocent things that come out of the pawnshop owners’ mouth are priceless. It was enjoyable for several reasons. First, you are interested in the clientele that come into pawnshop. Their stories, their haggling, their various states of intoxication. Priceless. Second, I was interested in the relationship between the Jewish pawnshop owner and his helper friend. Third, there was a narrative arc that brought us full circle. Yes, this movie was pretty spectacular. Great editing and a killer concept will leave you thinking ‘why didn’t I think of this?’

I am giving it a 4.5 out of 5. Why not a 5? Well, because the music was horrible. Imagine a bible thumping after school special from the 1980’s, then imagine music worse than that. Although the music was used sparingly, when it did come on, all I could think was “Who the crap chose this?”

You have one more chance to see Broke. It scored a repeat screening this Sunday night. I suggest you get your ass out and see it.

9:45 Sunday, May 10th – Innis Town Hall *plays with The Man Behind The Log

Concert Review: Bloc Party with Longwave, March 22, 2009 9:30 Club DC

Posted on by Tom in Concerts | 3 Comments

Bloc Party, V-Fest, Toronto, 2008

Washington DC- This concert review is a tale of two parts, since I’ve decided to offer a review of the opening band as well.

Part 1: Longwave

My first impression upon arriving at the 9:30 Club: Rarely have I seen a venue so full for an opening band…this bodes well for the show.

And Longwave did not disappoint.

The band, recently returning from a 3-year hiatus, played an up-tempo set featuring songs from their new album “Secrets are Sinister”. With the aim of regaining fans, Longwave brought a lot of energy to the stage, playing songs that were infused by building guitars, pounding drums and spirited singing by frontman Steve Schiltz. Highlighting their performance were the songs “No Direction” and “Satellites”, both of which got the crowd moving.

While the music itself was impressive, the band did lack in the crowd interaction department. Between song banter came across as awkward and forced, part of which may have been due to the absence of founding guitarist Shannon Ferguson (congratulations on your first child!). However, after the show I noticed that the band was hanging out at the merchandise booth, talking to fans and enjoying themselves. I found that a refreshing reminder of what music should be about.

Overall, Longwave played a very solid set and I recommend checking them out if you get the chance.

Part 2: Bloc Party

One word: Amazing!!!

As soon as lead singer Kele Okereke stepped on stage, wearing a Clinton Portis Redskins’ jersey, you could tell it was going to be a special show. Bloc Party quickly worked the crowd into a frenzy, starting off with “One Month Off” from their latest album “Intimacy”. Sprinkling in songs from the first two albums “Silent Alarm” and “A Weekend in the City”, the set continually built upon itself, gaining energy that permeated everything and everyone.

Playing the crowd to perfection, Kele even grabbed a homemade sign requesting the b-side “Tulips” from a fan in the crowd. Despite not having played the song in a couple of years, Bloc Party (after apologizing to their sound people) broke into “Tulips” (video here) as if they had played it at every gig on their tour. Later, a seamless segue from “Song for Clay (Disappear Here)” into “Banquet” elicited a strong response from the throng, an effect that further increased the vigor of the set.

What will stick with me, though, is the song “Mercury”. Immediately, Kele jumped into the crowd and began an incredible journey, buoyed up by people’s hands, around the floor. After returning to the stage for a few seconds, he disappeared again, sneaking off around the side of the venue, to suddenly emerge in the middle of the crowd (where I conveniently was standing) and rock out amid the masses. Then, entrusting his life to the fans again, he resumed crowd-surfing and was passed back up to the stage (video here).

Like I said before: Simply amazing. I would consider any Bloc Party show a must-see.

Concert Review: The Thermals, May 3, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Brian in Concerts | Leave a comment


God, I love The Thermals. What’s more, I love their Twitter feed. Twitter gives following a band on tour a whole new meaning, and The Thermals’ feed is one of the most entertaining around. Who can forget the epic tweet “But really this is the NOGL tour 09. NO ONE GETS LAID“? Or the early morning hours of May 1, when they tweeted a legendary 79 times between 1:22 and 3:53 AM?

Their tweet above is correct: the so-called “Legendary” Horseshoe Tavern is not the most glamourous of venues. On the other hand, The Thermals are not the most glamourous of bands. And that’s ok. Despite the heat that had frontman Hutch Harris sweating through his shirt, the Thermals pretty much killed it with an hour of their energetic indie rock goodness.

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