Concert Review – The Dears [April 30th, 2009 Mod Club]

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Toronto – The show started out on a good note, but then after the first song, it went down hill fast. The first song was Saviour which Murray Lightburn sang as he walked from the back of the club to the front through the crowd. It was pretty cool.

Their set list was really heavy on material from Missiles, with nothing played from End Of A Hollywood Bedtime Story. The tracks they played from No Cities Left lost my interest half way through because they lacked what I love about them. The Dears used to have a certain sense of theatrics and drama at their live shows. Like when you went to their show, it was much more than just a rock show. On this night, every song was basically guitars and drums with more guitars thrown on top. Their traditional orchestral dark pop sound was replaced with rock pop. There was no cello, no horns no nothing. I realize that they aren’t the same band they were even two years ago and that I shouldn’t expect the same, but by knowing what the Dears used to sound like live, I was really disappointed. I really enjoy their latest release Missiles because there is quite a bit of that orchestral pop on it, but played live, it didn’t translate.

We didn’t stick around for the encore.

Concert Review: Green Go, The Magic, Wrongbar, April 30

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Green Go, Wrongbar, April 30, 2009

Toronto – Always read the weather report before you go out. On Thursday morning, I woke up, looked outside for a bit, determined it wasn’t going to rain, put on my nice white brand new sperry sider shoes (or as I call them, my cottage shoes) and went on my way. Little did I know, it was to rain all day. I mean, I had intended to wear these nice white shoes (before heading to various cottages) around a little just to get that dirty white look, which looks a lot better then pure white out of the store look, but I didn’t want to be walking around them in a torrential downpour. Now there’s smudges of grey everywhere on my shoe. It really doesn’t look that dirty anymore, I think it just looked dirty under fluorescent lighting or something. Anyways, the point of this story is that I wasn’t in a particularly good mood heading into the Green Go CD release party at the Wrong Bar on Thursday. It was raining, the concert was later then I thought and I blew a chance to win our league ball hockey game earlier in the night, there was like a minute left in the game, it was tied 7-7 and I had a good chance to score. I had pulled the ball to my backhand from my forehand while running left. Theoretically, I should have tired to lift the ball to the top left corner, but halfway through the motion, I remembered this goalie had shoulder pads that put Garth Snow to shame, so I decided maybe the better option would have to go against the grain and backhand it to the right corner. However, I forgot to factor in that this goalies lateral movements were slower then Stephen Hawking on quicksand so basically, I shot it right back into his glove. Sigh.

We arrived at Wrongbar at about 11. I had never been to the Wrongbar before. It’s a nice space, theres a bar in front and the dance floor in the back. Nowadays, when I go to little bar places, all I can think about is whether I can/should book it for upcoming dance parties. While the place was definitely a good space for some dancing, the beer selection was balls at best. Bud, 50, Canadian, Keiths.. wheres the good beers? Six bucks for a pint of Keiths too. I guess everyone has their beer preferences.

There were actually 3 openers on the bill, but we only arrived in time to catch one of them. The Magic are a band from Guelph. They also have a band name that’s extremely hard to google. Let me tell you something – if you are forming a band, make sure your bands website CAN appear on the 1st google page when you type in the band name. It took me typing “The Magic Band Toronto” to actually find the myspace page for this band. That is four Google searches too many. A lesser man would have given up.

I guess “The Magic” is a new band, since they have no official website or any sort of web presence. The band had a large assemble of people on there, playing all sorts of instruments including horns/trumpets, synths and other. The lead singer was wearing some sort of ship uniform maybe. Combined that with the low key synthy eighties vibe and I would think that The Magic are trying to bring back Yacht rock. They were pretty decent, especially the number that the female singer took over primary singing duties.

Green Go came on around 12:30, which to me, is bed time. However, I was all the way in Parkdale, so I figure I might as well stay for the show. If you recall from my review, I liked the album quite a bit. The bar was about 2/3 full, and when the band came out, most people crowded up to the front and were primed to dance. Green Go certainly complied to the dancing part, as a heavy dose of synth and drum beats got the crowd shuffling the feet. Playing material mostly from Borders, the band provided some solid grooves for the crowd. They also gave everyone cake, which probably distracted a lot of people (gary included) from the actual show. However, it is a party and everyone must have cake.

I wasn’t in the best of moods headed into the show, and wasn’t too impressed with the late start time, but I’m old and jaded, so that’s typical. The music itself was good and everyone enjoyed themselves. I even found myself moving around a bit and left the Wrongbar in a good mood. I was especially happy to not have been mugged or anything in Parkdale at that time of night.

Hot Docs Review – Short Docs

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Man Behind The Log – John Lehmann, 6min

This shortie is about a man in Vancouver who lives behind a log on the beach and is able to sell his artwork for thousands of dollars at a local gallery. The story is told through still photos and video. The photos and video were very crisp and sharp, obviously done in HD. The medium that a story is told in is a very important piece of the puzzle. Here is a story about a broken down homeless man and it looks perfect. It is obvious that John Lehmann is a talented photo journalist, but for this story, I couldn’t get past how perfect the imagery was. Had he shot this film using a Polaroid 600 or on Super 8, I think it would have been much more effective.
3/5

Screenings
1:30, Thursday, May 7 @ Cumberland 2 with Broke
9:45, Sunday, May 10 @ Innis Town Hall with Broke

Pockets – James Lee, 3 min

This movie is three minutes of pure bliss. People carry odd things in their pockets, often very personal things. Hearing the stories behind all these personal objects is really fun. Simple, personal and beautifully shot.
5/5

No more screenings

Carmen – Larry Young, 6 min

A story about a woman who takes care of her sick husband 24/7. It plays out as a story about commitment and true love. It left me with a lot to think about. Here is a woman whos’ life revolves around taking care of her husband. When the movie ended I was left thinking about how much her husband is dependent on her, but also that she is possibly just as dependent on him as he is of her. Hmmmm.
4/5

No more screenings

Steel Homes – Eva Weber, 10 min

After doing some research on Eva Weber I was pretty jacked about seeing Steel Homes. Her pervious work includes The Intimacy Of Strangers, a doc constructed by overheard cell phone conversations. Steel Homes never really got off the ground for me. There were some cool, sterile shots of storage units and all that, but my interest in the subjects and their personal stories never developed.
2.5/5

Screenings
2:00, Wednesday, May 6 @ Cumberland 2 with Diary of a Times Square Theif
7:30, Sunday, May 10 @ Innis Town Hall with Diary of a Times Square Theif

Ma Bar – Finlay Pretsell, Adrian McDowall, 11 min

An older man and his goal to bench press a crap load of pounds, I mean kilos. Powerlifting is a petty popular sport. It was very interesting watching the powerlifter get ready for his lift. The routine, preparations and then finally the lift. Again, another beautifully shot piece where I didn’t connect with the subject or understand why I am supposed to care.
2.5/5
No more screenings

Concert Review: Lewis and Clarke [Mod Club, April 26 2009]

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Lewis and Clarke, April 25, Mod Club
Toronto – Sorry for taking so long. With the set pieces for the main act on stage, Lewis and Clarke opened at the Bat for Lashes gig the other night. Singing amongst Jesus statuette, leg lamps and dolls, the guitar started strumming. Melodramatic music ebbed and flowed into my ear. And the beginning was stamped on the never-returning stream of time.

I’m pretty sure they started with Petrified Forest (also funny how there were two little angel dolls with fiber optic wings, coincidentally also in the lyrics). Not being overly into sad tunes, I either listen to decisively upbeat or downright murderously depressed music. The vocal was dead-on, creating the same mournful feeling that I felt listening to them on myspace. They had a good stage presence, holding the crowd’s attention well. And not only because they nearly didn’t make it from Pennselvania and joked about Canadian customs officers. I’d qualify these guys as Ra Ra Riot reciting Edgar Allen Poe sans the anger. My only problem with them is that although there were clearly breaks between songs, it felt like they never occurred. The entire set seems intertwined but perhaps that was intentional. The same feelings were expressed from the beginning to the end. By the time they hit the last guitar note, I was a little drained. Maybe I need Ritalin, but I can only be everlastingly lovelorn continuously for 30 minutes. If they had chanced with some different pace half way through, it would have been much nicer. But either way, it was a nice and calm way to slide into the evening’s focus.