Concert Review: Simian Mobile Disco, November 8, Mod Club

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything | 2 Comments

Simian Mobile Disco, Mod Club, Toronto, 2009

Toronto – Man, Simian Mobile Disco was awesome live. It’s amazing to see what two men, a bunch of knobs, some wires and some thing-a-mi-jigs can produce. On Friday night, Simian Mobile Disco were in town to promote their second album Temporary Pleasure. James Ford and Jas Shaw didn’t even take the stage til around 12:30. Luckily for them, the Phenomenal Handclap band had nicely warmed up the crowd and by the time the light dimmed, everyone was really ready to dance.

Lets talk about the stage setup first, after witnessing the Presets blistering light show in April, I was expecting something along the same lines. There were basically five columns of lights surround the two men and yeah, they pretty much just blitzed your senses into submission throughout the show. I think I’m adding ‘good electronic act with crazy light show’ to my must see concert lists. It’s that awesome. Barney would approve.

As for the music…well, the thing is..for these shows, how good the concert is depends on how much you dance to the songs they play. I danced a lot, and so did everyone around me. I would venture to say not one soul in the crowd was standing still. All the popular songs were played including Hustler, It’s the Beat, Audacity of Huge, Cruel Intentions and of course, their standout track I Believe for an encore. I absolutely love that song. It was a great way to round out their 90 minute set.

I highly recommend you check them out, unless you are prone to seizures. Then maybe put on some sort of vision blocking contraption and go anyways.

Concert Review: Phenomenal Handclap Band, Nov 7, Mod club

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The Phenomenal Handclap Band, Mod Club, Toronto, 2009

Toronto – Nobody sells frozen apple concentrate juice anymore. You see, I am going to a potluck tonight for my friends birthday and I am making pulled pork from this ridiculously awesome recipe and I simply could not find any frozen apple concentrate anywhere. Not Metro, not Shoppers Drug Mart, not your local corner grocery store. I substituted regular apple juice. Hopefully it’s just as good, because sometimes when something is different then advertised, it usually leads to disappointment.

If you went to see the Phenomenal Handclap Band based on the cutesy folksy music video 15 to 20, you probably would have expected some sort of cute indie pop band from New York with flowery dresses. You would have been DEAD WRONG. Opening up for Simian Mobile Disco on a cold Friday night, the New York band sounded nothing like what I expected – and were completely awesome for it. Taking the stage at around 11:35, the band (with two leather clad female members) went on stage and played about fifty minutes of pure disco funk that had the packed crowd at the Mod Club dancing about 2 minutes in, an impressive feat.

With a lineup of a bassist, a drummer, a synth dude, two guitarist and two ladies, the group instantly launched into an instrumental opener so cool that I was wondering if this was the Phenomenal Handclap Band or some obscure super band transported from some uber hip Harlem disco club from the 70s. Where was the handclaps? Nope, it was just kick ass basslines left and right. It was great. I think most of the crowd was semi pissed that the Mod Club decided to open the doors at 11pm instead of 10pm (as said on the ticket) so for a band to completely turn people from semi pissed to ecstatic dancing is an impressive feat. I don’t see why they are compared to Broken Social Scene, aside from the large number of band members. I think my coworker fell in love with Laura Marin, one of the female vocalist, as he kept on telling me he thought that she was hot.

I’m not very familiar with their music (but I will be soon) so I don’t know what tracks they played per say, but 15 to 20 was stellar, as was set closer “Born Again”.

Definitely check them out.

Coming soon, part 2 of the concert – Simian Mobile Disco.

Click Here to check out photos.

Concert Review: Aretha Franklin, Roy Thompson Hall, November 6

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 3 Comments


Toronto – Last night the Queen of Soul herself paid a visit to Toronto in order to shower us with her award-winning voice and musical legacy. She was accompanied by a 21-piece band that was equally capable of providing some sweet soul music, as well as more than handful of slow ballads. Although the show was well-received by her die hard fans, the crowd was clamouring for more of what they know: upbeat soul hits.

It’s not always easy being a well-known gigging musician that has a slew of hits under their belt. One the one hand, it’s the very popularity of those hits that pays the bills. It’s understandable that the crowd wants to hear those songs when they go to see the musician perform live. On the other hand, the musician can feel like a one trick pony: “Hey, play that song you play!” can sometimes sound like, “Dance for me, monkey!” It’s understandable that some performers shy away from playing their biggest hits because their sick and tired of having to.

That certainly seems to be the case with Aretha. Granted, she does have a large repertoire to draw upon in a concert setting. But she also has some instantly recognizable hits that everyone wants her to play. Two songs that were remarkably absent from last night’s lineup was Respect and (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman. However, Aretha is the perenial template for the modern day diva, so I suppose we can’t force her to do anything she doesn’t want to.

Thankfully, she did play Think, which definitely had the crowd on their feet. Unfortunately for the crowd, her upbeat dance-friendly songs were mixed in equal measure with long slow ballads. Don’t get me wrong, the ballads were beautiful. Aretha has got pipes, there’s no question about that. However, I got the impression that much of the crowd came to dance and listen to  some nostalgic soul from one of the pioneers. Those ballads kept taking the wind out of their dancing sails at regularly scheduled intervals.

One interesting and underwhelming part of the concert was the very starting. The band begun by playing small abbreviated forms of many of Aretha’s hits prior to the Queen herself coming out. It struck me as kitschy and jarring. “Just in case you don’t know what we’re about to do, here are the Coles notes”. I’ve never seen a band do this before, and the result was a little lowest common denominator. Although the band was good, there is still some work to be done to in re-creating the magic of a really tight 70’s soul band. Kudos to the pianist as an outstanding musician that is clearly steeped in that tradition.

As a soul junkie, I’m definitely happy that I have now had the opportunity to hear Aretha Franklin live. However, combine ticket prices hovering between $80-170 with a marked absence of some classic hits, and it’s probably not something I’d want to do again anytime soon.

Concert Review: Florence and the Machine, Mod Club, November 2

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 3 Comments


Toronto – I used to live about 4 minutes away from Soundscapes, which along with Rotate This are the only two places you should be buying concert tickets in Toronto. Anyways, living this close to Soundscapes means that I could always easily get concert tickets. As with all good things in life, you take it for granted. I was fairly lazy about picking up Florence and the Machine tickets, figuring I could pick it up ANYTIME I wanted. NOPE. Sold out. I had around two weeks to buy the tickets, but it sold out and I was kicking myself. This is a lesson for all you folks out there, pick up tickets asap for a show you want to go to.

Luckily for me, the ticket gods were in my favor as Monday rolled around and what do you know, some unlucky soul could not make it to the show and was selling it for a reasonable price on craigslist. I instantly scooped up my ticket and thus begins my journey to the Florence’s sold out show on a wet and cold Monday night at the Mod Club.

First of all, can anyone tell me how they became so popular? Are they played on muchmusic or some radio station? The sell out was a complete surprise to me. I am guessing they are probably played on some mature radio station or something, as the crowd seemed to be predominately late 20s/30 somethings.

On to the show. What a voice. I think the Mod Club has been home to two of the more impressive vocal exhibitions in the past year, with Natasha Khan earlier this year and now Florence Welch. This women simply has a ferocious voice. It’s kinda like Neko Case if she cared about anything. Maybe it was the fact that this was the last show of the tour, but Florence seemed to just give it her all on the songs. Her stage move-set more or less consisted of using her arms to do some wavy movements, a hair twirl and jumping up and down. Her band consisted of some person on the Harp, two drummers (sounded great), a guitar or bassist and a synthy type girl. They pretty much did nothing aside from pound out music.

The songs itself were good. With the tribal-esque drumming, floral backdrop and flowers adorning the stage, the show had a spiritual-esque kind of feel, similar to Bat for Lashes in that sense. I felt like I should of been smoking some peyote in an Arizona desert somewhere. I don’t know why.

I was most surprise that the songs “Kiss with a Fist” and “Dog Days Are Over” were played so early in the set, since they seem most suited for last song before encore/last song of show types. Dog Days Are Over was especially a highlight, as a playful Florence Welch instructed the crowd to simultaneously jump up in the air multiple times, insinuating in the first (and last) ever mid-30s crowd mosh pit.

All in all, it was a very good and energetic show. Talent is talent. Florence Welch has a magnificent and powerful voice and that should carry her to a nice long career.

Between Two Lungs
My Boy Builds Coffins
Kiss With a Fist
Are You Hurting the One You Love?
Hospital Beds
Hurricane Drunk
Drumming Song
Dog Days Are Over
Cosmic Love
You’ve Got the Love
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)