Over The Top Festival: Boys Who Say No, Oh No Forest Fires and Five Blank Pages [Mod Club, May 23rd]

Posted on by Wade in Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments

(Toronto) Ah yes, an early Saturday night show at the Mod Club. There is something weird about going to a concert when it is still light out and it’s too early to be drunk.

First up was Toronto band Boys Who Say No. I liked them. They have a kind of quirky shouting, talking and singing over strong riffs. Kind of like Los Campesinos!. As I was watching them I thought that they kind of sounded like the Lovely Feathers, then they announced that they were playing a show with them on June 6th at Lees. Makes sense.

Up next were Oh No Forest Fires. Now I know my mother told me not to judge a book by its cover, but I am going to anyway. So Oh No Forest Fires takes the stage and I see three dudes, wearing crappy jeans and plaid shirts, you know, the typical slacker rocker indy outfit. No problem. But over on the corner of the stage on guitar is a fourth dude who I can only describe as Ian Ziering-esk. Brock Swanek took the stage wearing a freshly pressed white V-neck T-shirt, a fake-n-bake tan, new white Italian sneakers, fancy jeans and a faux-hawk-mullet hair don’t. It looked like he was on his way to meet his girfriends parents for the fist time. I didn’t get it.

Musically, I’m not that into Oh No Forest Fires. Not yet at least. I’m sure they are all fine musicians and others seem to like them, but on this night I was so distracted by the glare off of Brocks’ shirt and shoes, I couldn’t focus on the music. Visually, the band had no coherency. Visual coherency is important.

You would think that at some point the other three members of the band would be like:

“Hey, dude, do you have to get a manicure, shave, and whiten your teeth before every show? And why do you smell like a pina colada?”

OK, I made the pina colada thing up, I didn’t get that close, but if I had I am pretty sure that Brock would have been all coconuts.

On another superficial note, lead singer Rajiv Thavanathan has a lovely head of thick black bushy hair. If I could grow it like him, I would. Now I must admit that I did find some pictures from an Oh No Forest Fires show that happened at the Horseshoe earlier this year where Brock looks much more respectful. HERE too. Maybe the Mod Club show was a one off for the guy?

The last band of the early evening was Five Blank Pages. This was billed as their last show ever. I thought that they might just be saying that as a publicity stunt to get more people out, but when all the band members parents and grandparents started rolling in half an hour before their set, I knew that the ‘last show’ claim must have been legit. We didn’t stick around, there was an hour of daylight to get out and enjoy.

Concert Review: Joel Plaskett, May 23, Massey Hall

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 7 Comments


TorontoJoel Plaskett and his band The Emergency played Massey Hall last Saturday night. It was a great show shock full of feelgood east-coast rock. The unassuming Mr. Plaskett is on tour promoting his latest album Three. He was joined on guitar by his father Bill Plaskett, as well as fellow singer/songwriters Ana Ege and Rose Cousins.

“Rock and roll’s wrapped ‘round me as tight as a noose.” – Joel Plaskett

The show started just after 8 pm and was broken up into two sets. The first was an accoustic set with Bill, Ana and Rose and prominently featured songs from Three. After a little a break, he was joined by his band The Emergency and rocked all the way to the 11 pm curfew imposed on Massey Hall. That’s nearly a solid 3 hours of music! The length of the set was as ambitious as his album, which consists of three CD’s (hence the title). It’s a good thing his music is so fun and easy to listen to.

Joel Plaskett puts on great live shows. He’s a consumate musician who knows how to play guitar and knows how to sing. In addition to his vocal prowess, Joel is a fantastic guitarist that plays with a straight-ahead blues-infused vibe that can really cook. I remember seeing him at Lee’s Palace a few years ago and was awestruck by the simple and powerful way he could rock out. This show featured a lot more of Joel the accoustic guitarist and singer/songwriter than Joel the rock guitarist. But this is consistent with his album Three which is a lot less rocky than his previous offering: aptly named Ashtray Rock.

Joel gives off such a clean-cut friendly vibe that I’m alway a little taken aback when he swears in some of his tunes.

One highlight from all this great accoustic stuff was the addition of Ana Ege and Rose Cousins.  Both are talented singer/songwriters in their own right. Adding them to the mix made the harmonies that much sweeter. Their voices really added a lot of padding to the mix and generally bumped up the atmosphere of the show in general.  Pairing Joel’s strong voice with these ladies’ harmonies was a smart move.

If there’s one thing that was a little out-of-sorts, it was the ticket price. Once the surchages are added, my tickets ended up being $50 a piece, which is a little on the pricey side. It certainly brings it home that I’m not seeing Joel in some quaint bar in Halifax, or even at Lee’s, but at Massey Hall in downtown Toronto.  Lucky for us that seeing Joel Plaskett live is such good clean fun. Joel gives off such a clean-cut friendly vibe that I’m alway a little taken aback when he swears in some of his tunes. If anything, it makes the experience that much more sincere.

Concert Review: Au Revoir Simone, May 23, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, Everything | Leave a comment


Toronto – Thursday night was a big concert night for the city of Toronto – The National were in town and the Over the Top festival was in full gear, including a Dinosaur Bones/ Sebastien Grainger show at the Whipper Snappe gallery. So I guess it should be to no surprise that Brooklyn’s Au Revoir Simone played to a sparse crowd at Lee’s Palace. The band was in town to promote the release of their new album “Still Night, Still Light” which came out on Tuesday. I reviewed the album here.

All I can say about the show is that the girls from Au Revoir Simone are fricking cute. Vintage dresses, charming smiles and witty banters all added to the show’s laid back fun vibe. They apologized for not being able to party afterwards because of an interview with Q the next day. The band had a minimal setup, as you can tell by the photo. The music was mostly from the new album, with a few tracks from their previous one. I guess the only disappointment from the show was that they didn’t sing “Stars”, a single from their previous album. I guess it was okay because the bands excuse was “we don’t remember the lyrics”.

Au Revoir Simone is touring thru out North America, if you want to see three cute ladies sing some chilled out tunes and have a good time doing it, then I would suggest you check out the show.

29 May 2009 20:00 Music Hall of Williamsburg Brooklyn, New York
30 May 2009 20:00 Rock and Roll Hotel Washington DC, Washington DC
31 May 2009 20:00 Southgate House Cincinnati, Ohio
1 Jun 2009 20:00 The End Nashville, Tennessee
2 Jun 2009 20:00 Hi Tone Memphis, Tennessee
4 Jun 2009 20:00 The Cavern Dallas, Texas
5 Jun 2009 20:00 Walters on Washington Houston, Texas
6 Jun 2009 20:00 Mohawk Austin, Texas
9 Jun 2009 20:00 Plush Tucson, Arizona
11 Jun 2009 20:00 El Rey Los Angeles, California
12 Jun 2009 20:00 Velvet Jones Santa Barbara, California
13 Jun 2009 20:00 Bimbo’s San Francisco, California
15 Jun 2009 20:00 Wonder Ballroom Portland, Oregon
16 Jun 2009 20:00 Neumo’s Seattle, Washington
17 Jun 2009 20:00 Richard’s on Richards Vancouver, British Columbia
19 Jun 2009 20:00 Kilby Court Salt Lake City, Utah
21 Jun 2009 20:00 Fox Theater Boulder, Colorado
23 Jun 2009 20:00 Waiting Room Omaha, Nebraska
24 Jun 2009 20:00 High Noon Saloon Madison, Wisconsin
25 Jun 2009 20:00 Logan Square Chicago, Illinois
26 Jun 2009 20:00 Grog Shop Cleveland, Ohio
27 Jun 2009 20:00 Bowery Ballroom New York City, New York
14 Jul 2009 20:00 Be Cool Barcelona
15 Jul 2009 20:00 El Sol Madrid
16 Jul 2009 20:00 Nocturama Festival Sevilla
17 Jul 2009 20:00 Dour Festival Dour
18 Jul 2009 20:00 Lovebox London
21 Jul 2009 18:30 Pure Groove Records in-store London
22 Jul 2009 20:00 Bungalow & Bears Sheffield
23 Jul 2009 20:00 Night and Day Manchester
24 Jul 2009 20:00 Indie Tracks Festival Derbyshire
25 Jul 2009 20:00 Be At @ Proud Galleries London
26 Jul 2009 20:00 Secret Garden Party Huntingdon
7 Aug 2009 20:00 Astropolis Festival Brest
8 Aug 2009 20:00 Nuits Secretes Festival Aulnoye-Aymeries

Concert Review: Adaline [Cameron House, May 20 2009]

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, Everything | Leave a comment

Toronto – I wasn’t aware of it because I am never up to date on things but on one fateful night, singer/songwriter Adaline met actor Robert Pattinson of Twilight after Juno weekend, and had a very enjoyable chat (apparently 2 minutes). She then twittered about it. And then for reasons that wasn’t clear even to the band members blogs started to form around the encounter, translations began to appear (in French, OK.. but Spanish?) Before they could say Horay! the interweb hit their myspace in record numbers. That’s the gist of the story as it was passed down to me while I sat across one band member, waiting for the Abbotsford, BC guys to begin their industry showcase yesterday at Cameron House (that building on Queen/Spadina with giant killer ants).

Per my own customs I arrived 25 minutes early, strolled into the back and found myself the first guest. First of all, Cameron House’s stage feels like the Rain-forest Cafe, with leaves and tropical lighting (they’re missing a parrot). It’s made into a mini-cabaret club, with 3 climbing rows of benches and tables that can comfortably seat around 20 people, and the band was lounging when I walked in. Tthe above story was related to me, and after a bit of wait, Adaline finally arrives, behind a Pandora’s box burst of people who had better sense of these things than I do, and the show kicked off without a hitch. You can see them greeting people in the pic above.

I don’t remember which song she opened with but I think the set list went like Poor you, followed by a new song, Chemical spill, Meaningless Meeting, We’ve got something, and Whiter Straighter. Some of these are definitely catchy, and I think they would really get attention if played on radio or bigger venues. I’ve tried to ask the band members which genre they would like to pigeon-hole themselves into (obviously with more tact) – they conceded that Adaline’s the mastermind of the whole operation, and they find it interesting how she apparently fit many styles into one coherent piece. I guess it is a silly and probably offensive question but I really couldn’t place it except for cabaret-style rock. Then occasionally she has a electro-dance number like Chemical Spill. Songs will meander like a sultry love song and then start to receive heavier drums and guitar, transforming into rock by the end. I was going to chat with her more to find out, but she was quite busy with this being an industry show. She sounds quite good live (though the set had some mic glitches) – after the lesson from Bat for Lashes’s Natasha Khan I’d not easily throw out awesome this year… Adaline was perhaps more focused on songwriting. Good news is that they are playing tonight, too, at the Drake, with longer set list. Catch them if you want to support  a Canadian talent.