Concert Review: Bishop Allen, June 28, Lees Palace

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Toronto – One of my roommates favorite bands, Brooklyn’s Bishop Allen took the stage at Lees Palace on a cool summer night (til i got into my apartment). I was there, and here is the review.

Well, before the show I had to go for drinks and dinner with my soon-to-be-married former coworker, so a bunch of us had some dinner at some random pub. Tell me this, my Eastern neighbors, why is it that every pub seems to have brown cooks? I swear, almost every pub I have been in this side of the Mississippi has at least one or two brownies cooking the food. I think this is a grossly underused stereotype, I mean we all associate brownies with taxi cabs and convenience stores, but really convenience stores seem to be runned by koreans or something these days, and cabs are just operated by any sort of immigrants…but pub cooks? always brown. I have no idea why. Maybe its cos of the British colonial thing, most pubs have some sort of anglo menu, like Sheppard’s pie and fish and chips (even though its fries). Anyways, whatever.

Lees Palace was about 1/3 full when we got there, maybe. Maybe 1/4 full. This is a nice change. We was able to get seats along the side of the stage and so I was able to sit down for once and enjoy the show. The air conditioning in the place was pretty good, and that enhanced the show quite a bit. In case you don’t know, Bishop Allen is an indie-pop band from Brooklyn. They are releasing an album in a month. Actually they said that during the show, and my friend josh speaks in a not too quiet voice ‘which you have already stole’. haha.

It was a pretty good show, the vibe was really laid back and the banter was kept at a minimal. They played songs mostly from their new album, but also played some stuff from their 2003 or 2004 or 2005 release, which is called ‘Charm School’. They did NOT play ‘things are what you make of them’ which was disappointing. That was my favorite bishop allen song, although ‘Like Castenets’ is rising on my list.

They played for around 50 minutes, then did a quick encore. Then i went and ate a falafel.

Review : 3.5/5

Concert Review: Voxtrot, June 20, Berkeley Church

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Toronto – Wait a minute..didn’t I see Voxtrot a mere 13 days ago? Why yes. Voxtrot returned to their favorite city last night for a taping of the show ‘Beautiful Noise’, which will be aired at 7 pm on Sun TV in Fall. Because this was a television taping, the show was free and the thought of watching a band I like in a church while drinking some beers was too good to resist.

Note to people: Parliament street is not close to Young street. I had to drag my poor friend from Edmonton all the way from Yonge street to get to the venue, and pass by some nice community centers, and crazy black people along the way. I told her it was a ‘keepin it real’ tour. Man that stretch of the city is sketch.

Berkeley Church is kinda small, kinda old and pretty nice. I am surprise that they have a bar inside a church, but I guess it probably makes sunday processions go by a lot faster. Photoderek.com was already outside not enjoying grace potter and the nocturnals. We all decided to hang out in the basement of the church while this band played. Lucky for us, Voxtrot was down there already, doing a photoshoot for something I guess. They didn’t seem too eager to take these photos.

on a side note, photoderek went to apologize to the lead voxtrot dude (ramesh) about trying to sell him tickets to his own show the previous week. so they are all cool now and the feud is no longer there. All in all, they seem to be nice people who are just dealing with the rigors of becoming popular.

the show started out kinda late. there was about 5 cameras , including one on a crane that would go thru the crowd. This was a dangerous camera, and i worried about getting decapitated by it. The show itself was similar/same as the one from a few weeks ago, only with really good sound and crazy lighting. Crazy lighting. I guess it will be on HD TV, so that is necessary. The person who was running the thing made us cheer like crazy so they can do a pan or something, I guess this is where you will see me if the show is on.

3.5/5

XBox 360 Review: Splinter Cell – Double Agent

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Toronto – After watching shows like 24, theres nothing you want to do more then sneak up behind someone and snap their neck or slit them in the throat. I mean look at this clip (probably favorite one of season 6)

in the deadly world of espionage, you can trip, and your neck will break. This leads me to everyone’s favorite spy game – Splinter Cell. In Splinter Cell, you play Sam Fisher, basically, a really bad ass ninja version of Jack Bauer. You get put on missions where you sneak around..gather data, spy, kill, etc. Typical spy shit, minus the glamorous parts (no tango dances with Tia Carriere, for example). In this particular game, you have to infiltrate a terrorist cell group ran by over ambitious militants in the US. This is a newish concept to the game, as some of your missions are now terrorist machines, where you have to do stuff like blow up a cruise ship. Obviously, one of the themes of the game is morality or something, where you have to equally balance the trust of the terrorist group and the spy agency at the same time..

If you have played Splinter Cell before, then this game will be very familiar to you. If you haven’t then you are in for a treat. Splinter Cell is extremely fun to play. Basically, you sneak around, and your character can do all kinds of things to hide. You are equipped with heat, electricity and night vision, so you go around turning off lights and stuff in order to get by. You can climb, hang, hide, etc. The locales in this game are awesome, including stuff like Africa, Shanghai, a Cruise ship and others.

Now you can get thru the entire game without being seen, or killing anyone you are not suppose to…but that’s no fun. You are given a crap load of weapons to use, but really, in the end, you will only use two weapons ..your hands (to snap ze neck) or if that fails..your knife. This is a game about sneaking around, and obviously, if you can get close enough to perform one of these two feats, you have done your job.

Graphics and sound and stuff for this game are about what you would expect for a video game. Pretty good. My only gripe is that this game was kinda short, and some of the terrorist tasks were repetitive.

4.5/5

Concert Review: Ohbijou, Sebastian Grainger, June 9, Horseshoe

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Toronto – Every June, this little festival called North By Northeast rolls thru Toronto like a hurricane of something, and people from all over Canada come here to play music in hopes of becoming the next big something. It is quite a weekend. There are concerts in every place imaginable, and yet..half my coworkers didn’t even know it was happening. How odd is that? I was lucky enough to score a media pass courtesy of a friend of mine (this industry..its all about who you know). What does this pass mean, you ask? It means a goodies bag, and a chance to not pay for any shows. Also, you can bypass lineups. Pretty sweet, I guess.

So it was Saturday, and I was pretty damn tired. Toronto FC on Wednesday, Interpol Thursday, Voxtrot last nite.. It would of been easy to call it a night and go relax somewhere. But sometimes you have to choose between what is easy..and what is right. What is right, obviously, is to use this pass and go see some hyped show, and bypass an entire line of people while flaunting the pass and walking right on in and looking mildly disinterested at the show.

The show in question was the CBC Radio 3 showcase at the Horseshoe. The show consisted of three hyped Canadian acts – Ohbijou, Sebastian Grainger and the Montagnes and You say Party We say Die!. My roommate scored a pass as well and we headed down to the Horsehoe via the trolley. Holy lineup batman! When we got to the corner of Queen and Spadina, there was a lineup around the block. I was like ..man those 1.50 street dogs must be really popular. However, upon further inspection, it turned out it was to get to this CBC show. I was shocked…this many people listen to radio?

My first thought was that we were not going to get in, but then I remember this little thing dangling around my neck. I went up to the volunteer manning the door and asked what the deal was, and he was like ‘well the capacity is full right now, but if you line up here, we will let in badge owners first..and then the peasants.’ So five minutes later, we were let into the Horseshoe, walking pass the non-special people, I can just sense their beady little eyes shoot lasers of hate and distaste toward us types and it hurt. Kinda. I am glad this was not an emo show, or everyone would have pulled out razorblades and cut themselves i bet.

In all honesty, this is a fairly crappy system to do a music festival. Fans spend like 30 bucks to buy a bracelet, and line up for hours to see their favorite bands. They should be allowed in first, as they probably care the most. I always thought CMW was the industry show, however, with the amount of passes they hand out, thats probably not the case. Anyways, I have just realized I have written four paragraphs and there has been no mention of music anywhere.

Ohbijou is a local toronto band, listening to them, you would think they are an arts and craft band, because they sound like an arts and craft band. That is not a diss or anything, as they play really mellow and good music. They are a large band, comprising of half males, and half females (just like planet earth). The lead vocalist is female, and an asian of some sort. I couldn’t really figure out what kind of asian she was, so i spent the better half of the show analyzing it. I think she is filipino, but she can also be spanish. the name is “Casey Mecija” so definately, she is not a chink. That is what asians do, as soon as we see other asians, we try to figure out whereabouts they are from, and then judge them accordingly. Here is a link of their music:

http://www.myspace.com/ohbijou

Sebastian Grainger and his band came on next. Sebastian was one half of the duel DFA 1979. His solo stuff was suppose to be more poppy then DFA, and I guess this is true. His act was a 3 piece set with a drummer and some dude who looks like a cross between Triple H and Meat loaf on bass. He rocked out pretty hard. As for the show itself, the music was pretty good, and the highlight of the show was the last song, which was synth heavy and sounded nothing like all the other songs. kinda weird.

I missed the third act, because I started getting hungry, so I went to go eat a burrito. Overall, the music tonite was very good considering I have not heard any of these songs.

Review: 3/5

Here is a link to the entire show. you can listen to it.

http://radio3.cbc.ca/