Concert Review: Dance Yourself To Death, SHEEZER, Gentleman Reg [Feb 17, Drake Underground]

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Toronto – This was the third of four Wednesday night performances by Gentleman Reg at the Drake in February. Opening up the night was Dance Yourself To Death. My theory about the word ‘dance’ is that if you use it as a song title or in your bands name, then your music needs to make me want to dance. The same theory applies to the words ‘clap’, ‘shake’, and ‘party’ as in Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, The Cajun Dance Party, Harlem Shakes and You Say Party! We Say Die! All of these bands make me want to clap, shake, party and dance.

Anyway, I really liked Dance Yourself To Death, and yes, people did dance. They reminded me of Heart and Pat Benatar. As a band, they were really, really tight. For a band that I hadn’t heard of before, I really enjoyed their set. It looks like their rehearsal time has paid off since they are opening up for Sia in April at the Phoenix.

Next up, Sheezer. Yeah. Sheezer is an all girl Weezer cover band from Toronto. The band consists of Laura Barrett (Hidden Cameras & Herself), Dana Snell (The Bicycles), Magali Meagher (The Phonomes), Alysha Haugen and Robin Hatch. This was their second show ever.

Weezer songs tug at my heart and each one comes with a memory. I have an emotional connection with Weezer because they remind me of my younger, care free, jobless days when I had nothing better to do than sleep in until noon and make my 2:30 class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was emotionally ready for this show and the girls certainly satisfied.

Alysha Haugen on lead guitar was amazing. Watching her rip it up kept my attention for most of the show. Her slacker guitar stance really sold it too, as if to say to the crowd “Yah, I’ll play this for a while, now I’m gonna do some of this, now I’ll take a break, now some of this”.

The highlight for me had to be El Scorcho, not because it is my favourite Weezer song, but because Magail Meagher took over lead vocal duties. Magail is cool. I like her style. Of all the girls on stage, it was obvious that she was having the most fun and this totally sold the song, along with her entire performance.

It was clear to me that Sheezer still needs to work on some of their songs. Laura admitted that they were still in the process of learning the Weezer repertoire when somebody shouted out “In The Garage” and Laura responded with “Yah, I’d like to hear that too”. There was a lot of looking around on stage. Everybody was checking in to see what everybody else was playing. It was fine because the crowd could see and feel that they were kind of winging it, but as audience members, we were right there with them.

We didn’t stay for Gentleman Reg, but he is back next Wedbesday at the Drake with Evening Hymns opening up.

My girlfriend bought me a pin and all the way home we told each other that our names were Jonas.

Concert Review: The Editors, February 16, The Phoenix

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The Editors, Phoenix, Toronto, ON

Toronto – As you might have known from my previous post, I was at the Antlers/Editors show on Tuesday. This post is about the main event of the night, England’s The Editors, who are in town to promote their latest and drastically different sounding third album – In This Light and on This Evening. It appears some of the older fans of the more guitar driven music are having an allergic reaction to the newer more synthy sounds of the third album, despite it’s equally bleak outlook on everything. So it was definitely an interesting mix of people at the Phoenix on Tuesday.

Coming to the stage around 10:40, the band instantly let the crowd know that this night was definitely going to be a night of new and old material with an opening trio of In This Light and On This Evening, Lights and An End Has a Start. The rest of the night would feature most of the songs from the third album (mild response) interspersed with songs from the first two albums (great response).

As a live act, the Editors are quite engaging, almost completely due to lead singer Tom Smith’s theatrics. There are bands where the singers sing their songs nicely, there are bands where singers look disinterested, then there are bands where the singers sing their songs as if every word they have written are the most most important piece of literature since Shakespeare. The Editors are in the latter group. Tom Smith is quite the showman – between switching seamlessly from piano to guitar to synth, the man does everything in his power possible – poses, hand guesturing, kneeling, looking directly at the crowd – to let you know that his songs are important. Hard not to semi admire a man whose that committed to his craft. As Chromewaves noted, this show wouldn’t of been nearly as good if it wasn’t for Tom Smith’s presence/showmanship.

Overall, the new material was pretty solid live, not sounding too different then that on the album, however, I would have to say that the Editors insistence on pretty much playing the entire album might have dragged the concert into ‘too long’ territory. The classic Editors songs like Munich, Lights and Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors were great and an instant hit with the people were happy. I am sure Papillon will elicit the same response in time.

*Approximate Set List
In This Light And On This Evening
Lights
An End Has A Start
You Don’t Know Love
Bullets
The Boxer
The Big Exit
Blood
Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool
The Racing Rats
Escape The Nest
Like Treasure
Bones
Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors
Bricks And Mortar

Encore:
Walk The Fleet Road
Munich
Papillon
Fingers In The Factories

Concert Review: The Antlers, February 16, Phoenix

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The Antlers, Phoenix, Toronto, ON

Toronto – I have a bad habit of skipping opening bands. I just absolutely hate waiting in between sets. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Mainly, when a band I really like play as the openers. Tuesday night was just a night, when Brooklyn’s The Antlers opened up for The Editors. This was what I believe The Antler’s third time in Toronto in the past year, having opened up for Frightened Rabbit last July and having their own show in September. As you can see, Panic Manual was there for both of them, and we’ll be there for them when they open up for the National in May. I guess we are fans of this band, or we like depressing music. Maybe it’s a combination of both. Maybe I just like bands named after animal parts. Quick..name another.

Having been on various best of lists on both the interweb and real life publications, the crowd for the Antlers had definitely grown significantly since their last visit. The trio took the stage shortly after nine. The Phoenix was already 2/3 full. The drummer was set up in the middle and the larger stage seemed to work a lot better for them. Much to my chagrin, the Antlers only played five songs during their set, but man, they killed it. All the songs, from opening tune Kettering to the closer Wake prove that simply, the Antlers are starting to master the whole ‘semi distorted’ quiet buildup loud payoff indie rock sound.

“Two” was anthemic, started off slowly drenched in organs (generated by synth of course) and then transforming into an almost dancey rocker number. It was definitely different then the more subdued album version, but this version sounded quite organic and you had a bunch of fans trying their best to sing along to the song, despite the slightly different pacing of the vocals and the fact that it’s has extremely personal and dark lyrics. I love this song, and from the sound of the crowd, so did a lot of people. You kind of get a chuckle when some people at the concert are singing along to lyrics like

Daddy was an asshole, he fucked you up
Built the gears in your head, now he greases them up
And no one paid attention when you just stopped eating
“Eighty-seven pounds!” and this all bears repeating

Peter Silbermann’s vocals are quite a treat and even if sometimes the volume a bit lower, it’s hard not to come away with his impressive talents. This is man who has endured some hardships. I hope that they play their own show sometime soon so I can take them in it’s entirety. I guess they are playing SXSW. They recently premiered their song Bear on Pitchfork, the same song that silenced a chatty Phoenix crowd:

All in all, they were stunning and you can not ask for more from an opener.

Concert Review: Kids on TV, Thomas, Owen Pallett, Hidden Cameras [Wavelength 500, Garrison, Feb 15]

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything | 9 Comments

Toronto – As anyone who lives in Toronto knows, Wavelength is celebrated its 500th and last shows (of the current format) this week. Sunday night was the last night of the five night series and as anyone would have guessed, it ended off with a bang. On the card last night was a lot of bands, but the ones I actually saw (having arrived close to 1am) are Kids on TV, Thomas*, not-really-a-surprise-guest Owen Pallett and actually-a-surprise guest The Hidden Cameras. The latter not having played a live show in quite a while**.

So here’s something weird. I think as Owen Pallett was setting up, I decided that I had to take a piss. If you know the layout of the garrison. Well, let me draw one.

If you look, you will notice the boys bathroom is right beside the mystical, magical backstage land. I had to go pee as Owen Pallett was setting up (or maybe it was after his set, I forgot). So I go into the bathroom, and who is it but Gentleman Reg and like three other people (I think they were hidden camera band members) in there playing guitar and I guess practicing. I gave them a stare, shrugged and then peed while they were practicing. Weird.

These reviews, just like each bands showcase, will be short, simple and sweet.

Kids On TV
– I had no idea who they were. They brought a really energetic dance punk party vibe to the set and everyone was dancing. They remind me a lot of Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head, both in terms of sound and aesthetics (gay). Good energy. A lot of indian yelling throughout their set, but yeah, definitely got the dance floor going.

Thomas
– Virtually impossible to find anything on this band due to the impossible to search band name, i can only assume this female fronted band is from Canada, as I heard that members of Thomas were also Owen Pallett’s backing band. They had a lot of sounds going on stage, but I’m not exactly sure if they all melded together. It’s like a salad, you can have a lot of ingredients, but if the right ones don’t go together, it doesn’t taste that good. Probably early Broken Social Scene sounding kind of music.

Owen Pallett
– The main draw for me this evening. I had never seen this dude play live before, and there’s been a lot of hype about his live show, so I was fairly interested. Sadly, Owen Pallett only played 3 songs. What I did see was fairly intriguing. As I’m sure you’ve read before, Owen records his music live, and then loops it as he layers out more and more sound. It’s definitely extremely unique and quite mesmerizing to watch. I think I will see him play a formal show in the near future.

The Hidden Cameras + Gentleman Reg + Kevin Drew + lots of other people (wavelength crew) – Anyone who knows anything about shows knew this was going to end up with a lot of people on stage, singing and dancing and that’s exactly what happened when the Hidden Cameras plus guests came on for one last song (i believe in the good of life). Good times was all around, and it was a big big love in (as it should be).

All in all, this was a great celebration for a music series that played a big part in the Toronto music scene, and it is good to see so much love for the people who sweated blood to build this community. Being at the show, it is so obvious that this series means so much to so many people and there definitely a bit of envy not having been to more wavelength shows, but I guess that’s life.

OH yeah, Brian, I put my jacket on the pool table.

* = link provided by Narratives blogger Jen Polk
** = apparently not (mistake corrected by the same person).