Concert Review: The Hold Steady, Sept 28, Lee’s Palace

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Toronto – Sunday night certainly did not have the best start for yours truly. First of all, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to their arch-rivals the Cincinnati Bengals, followed promptly by an email from my friend Ian (big Bengals fan) telling me to “suck it”. Then there was a keeper hockey fantasy league in which I could only participate in like 23/30 rounds due to time constraints. Anyone who knows anything about fantasy sports knows that the last rounds separate the winners and the losers, and not being able to participate in the last few rounds meant I had to leave it to the auto-pick gods. Not a good start.

Of course, the reason why I had to leave the draft early was because I was going to see The Hold Steady, the only Brooklyn band not comprising of skinny hipsters. They were playing the second night of a two night residence at a sold out Lees Palace in support of Stay Positive, their fourth full length album.

I’ll be the first to admit, I have only really skimmed through the Hold Steady discography in my days. I know about songs like Your Little Hoodrat Friend, Stuck in Stations, Sequestered in Memphis and Stay Positive but that’s about it. I know that they are pretty much a band that relied on heavily constructed lyrics layered over classic rock riffs. So I pretty much went in as a casual observer.

Imagine my surprise when the the band arrived at 10:20 and the lead singer looked like a cross between a high school math teacher and an owner of a New York bagel shop. I honestly had no idea what they looked like, but Craig Finn’s appearance was definitely not what I pictured from the band. Maybe I was expecting someone looking more like Springsteen. I’ll honestly say, I have rarely seen any lead show so much enthusiasm toward call and responses then Finn. He genuinely loves it when the crowd screams out lyrics or claps when he wants. It is quite endearing.

The concert was what I expected – classic rock riffs and Finn delivering his lyrics like a mad man. The songs itself sounded pretty good, and I really enjoyed Franz Nicolay on the keyboards. Not being a heavy Hold Steady listener, I really didn’t know what he was talking about since he was delivering at a wicked pace. I guess this is the point where a casual fan would be like ‘meh’ whereas big Hold Steady fans would be in heaven. I think it is this point that separates a Hold Steady concert for the casual fan versus a big fan. You really can’t tell what he is saying, so it’s harder to form some sort of bond with the band.

Anyways, the show was fairly solid – everyone was loving it, and they played the songs that I know. The Hold Steady come off as a really hard working and genuine band, something I can definitely appreciate.

Concert Review: the Antlers, Horseshoe Tavern, Sept 24

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything | 1 Comment

Don’t believe the hype. But in this case, do.

The Antlers came through Toronto last night for the second time in less than two months. When they came back in July, opening for Frightened Rabbit, puzzled concert-goers had their index fingers shoved up their ears (me and my bleeding eardrums were intrigued). When they came back to the Horseshoe last night, this time as the headliner, it was clear they had established a legitimately strong fan base already. Throughout Holly Miranda’s set I heard multiple people buzzing about the Hospice release. They weren’t buzzing about how fuckable the lead singer was and they weren’t buzzing about an overplayed single. In otherwords, this was not what I would deem “scene buzz” akin to what I have seen at shows like Camera Obscura or Passion Pit. Audience members were actually talking about Hospice as an album and I doubt many of them were there because of Pitchfork approval despite the Horseshoe’s “BROOKLYN Pitchfork Approved Indie Hipster Rock” tagline (Pitchfork has officially become the equivalent of Roger Ebert’s “thumbs up” in the non-mainstream music world).

Couldn’t find any photos from the Horseshoe so here’s a still from chromewaves at Criminal Minds

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Concert Review: Little Foot Long Foot [September 18th, Steam Whistle Unsigned]

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

Photo by Shaun Axani

Dude: I’ll take NEW MUSIC for $600
ALEX: And the answer is: The Mates Of State, The Kills, Matt & Kim and Little Foot Long Foot.
Dude: Who are two piece bands that may or may not be dating?
ALEX: You are correct

Last Friday night I hit up the Unsigned night down at Steam Whistle to see the two piece outfit from Toronto, Little Foot Long Foot. Front woman Joan Smith had the whole country vibe going on with her hard strumming rock and roll guitar sound. She kicked it on Friday night wearing a cute plaid sundress while Seth Rogen look-a-like, Isaac Klein, beat away on the drums behind her.

An issue I commonly hear with two pieces is a lack of range from song to song. Matt & Kim suffer from this, as do The Kills. In the case of Mates of State, they rely heavily on their vocals and have subtly switched up their instruments to adjust their sound. By the fifth song played by LFLF I’d got it. After that, the songs all kind of started sounding the same. I blame this on me not being familiar with their material prior to the show. Since purchasing a CD and listening to it, there are some stand out tracks. Tunes like June Bug and King Hipster will make you stand up and take notice. I’d like to see LFLF again knowing what I know now but on Friday night, yah, it all blended.

On another note, I believe that LFLF need an image consultant. In person they look like young country hipsters, their website has a 7 year old construction paper feel, their album art is a mix of some made up colonial vs. fairytale genre, and then there is their music which is gritty country rock. Please, pick one of the above and go with it. I was confused and distracted in doing my research.

Concert Review: Little Boots, Wrongbar, Sept 15

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 4 Comments


Toronto -

Good things come to those who wait.

Half an hour til midnight and Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots had yet to take the stage at Wrongbar. The little Tenori-On on the side of the stage was slowly flashing the name Little Boots in it’s little dots and everyone was waiting..and waiting.

5 minutes later later, a tiny singer came out, the opening sounds of “Meddle” came on, and all the bitterness towards having to be at a late show on a Monday night was all forgotten. Last night’s fantastic display of pop music can be summarized by lyrics from Little Boot’s hit single New in Town:

I’m gonna take you out tonight
I’m gonna make you feel alright

The lyrics may not be scholarly worthy, but it is based on the premise of truth – going to a Little Boots show is going to make you feel alright. Ask anyone at the show last night. Armed with a drummer and a synth/effects guy, Little Boots played a very efficient and energetic set consisting of the songs off her debut album Hands as well as the Freddie Mercury cover Love Kills off the Buffet Libre compilation.

Having listened to the albums many times, the live versions of the songs definitely make you realize that most of these songs have some great anthem elements to them. Songs like “Earthquake” and “Symmetry” sounded much better (and more important) then their album counterparts due to the hyped up choruses in the live setting. Similarly, hit songs like “Remedy” and set closer “Stuck on Repeat” (with a drum/bass heavy extended intro) sounded like the dance floor classics you had expected.

All in all, a fantastic show.

*PS . Wrongbar, perhaps you should figure out an AC system that works + we don’t need a smoke machine.