Concert Review: M83 & Seven Bells, November 20, Opera House

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 9 Comments

Toronto – I’m going to confess straight off the bat that this is going to be a highly sexual review coming from a randy post-80’s electronica novice. This has nothing to do with having the pleasure of being searched and molested at the Opera House and everything to do with the droolworthiness of Brooklyn openers School of Seven Bells and of course the stubbled perfection of M83’s Anthony Gonzalez.

Judging from the size of the crowd for openers SO7B they must either have quite the fanbase in Toronto already from their critical buzz generated around Alpinisms or else everyone unfamiliar with them did their MySpace research and looked at their photograph collection. As my concert companion noted to me, “If this band thing doesn’t end up working out for them, they can always model”. Well put. The smokey-eyed twin sister vocalists are the stuff of indie-hipster-boy-wet-dreams. And the music you ask? Oh yes, the music…well, if Ladytron/Kate Bush/Cocteau Twins/a distant cousin of Cut-Copy mated with a fairy dust sprinkling of psychedelic LSD you’d get School of Seven Bells live. I recognized Half Asleep and I’m assuming most of the other tracks are off Alpinisms. Good set in any case with a surprisingly nice mix of electric guitars and electronica.

Now for M83. Oh, M83 how Toronto loves you. Although my companion and I were likely the only people pressed up near the stage in the pushing-30 to pushing-40 age range, I can say it was refereshing to see the young people getting down and dirty with the bouncing around, dancing, hooting and hollering. I should note here that every couple at this show must’ve been feeling the hypersexual juju that night because we were surrounded by couples who were a hair away from the dry hump (did I miss a free e tablet giveaway or something??).

Let me just say here that M83 is quite different live, as most great bands are. As with the Deerhunter show last week I have to say I found their live set 3-dimensional, loud, almost tactile–their studio recordings by comparison seem to have “flattened” a bit after the experience of seeing them jam with their bad selves in person. Gonzalez set up a mesmerizing magical mixing box with hypnotic christmas lights inside that treated the recorded vocals as more of a background instrument for many of the songs. At first I was like, hey! This is supposed to be a LIVE show–I don’t care how handsome you are with your seductive stubble and your casual good looks–you should be SINGING. But then I realised what an idiot I was being. Of course vocals can be treated as a background instrument or sample…and it’s great when they *are* in a live show so that they can focus on creating a new instrumental animal. What they did with real instruments went above and beyond my expectations and I particularly want to point out the ripping good drummer who was given much to do (and was so good he was the only member of the band protected by a bullet-proof shield; we were joking that perhaps they had a date coming up in Detroit or Compton).

The crowd went wildest during Kim & Jessie and Graveyard Girl, probably their two best known tunes to date, but my favorite parts of their set involved their drum-intensive instrumental jams and adorable graciousness–they seemed genuinely touched at the audience’s enthusiasm. I’ll definitely see them again–an audio spooge all around.

Travel Review – West Edmonton Mall [2008, Edmonton] – Part 1

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | 3 Comments

Edmonton – When one thinks of Edmonton, only three things can possibly come to mind – cold, the Oilers and the Mall. Well, as a person who spent seventeen frickin years in the Great White North, I have had plenty of trips to the mall. However, most of my friends in Toronto have never been, as there is no real point to visit Edmonton for anything. I was recently in my former home town and decided to show the peeps what the mall is all about.

First off, some information on the mall. It is the largets mall in North America and fourth largest on Earth. It consists of 570,000 square meters, has over 800 stores and also a waterpark, rink, movie theatre, casino, hotel, amusement park, golf course and pretty much everything you can think of. It even has another mall inside it. Jokes. Seriously, West Edmonton Mall is basically an indoor city.

Okay, so here are some random stuff.

This is the waterpark. It’s AWESOME. I have been there more then a few times, and its great. The rides are top notch, you can bungie jump, theres a wave pool and the rides are just good. Look at the red and purple rides, thats five stories you drop. Crazy. If you are light, you can actually fly off the purple slide on the first bump. Don’t go down this slide head first, or you will end up like Superman. Bad joke, I know. But fair warning indeed. It’s great to go in the winter, since its bright outside and warm inside.

Look – it’s Europe! and on the first floor, it’s a mini golf course! This is also where some of the more expensive shops are in WEM. How European. You should be allowed to smoke in this area of the mall.

How the hell did they get a submarine inside a mall? I don’t know. However, this is a popular ride at WEM, and also shows off Canada’s awesome naval powers. Russian warships patrolling the arctic waters, you better watch out, because this yellow submarine packs quite a punch.

On the left is where the sea lions are. They used to be dolphins, but apparently, that area is too small for the dolphins and they got depressed and died. How emo. To the middle in the back is a pirate ship. The water area is quite popular for drunken people to dive into at nite after they leave one of the West Mall nightclubs. Then they drown.

Part 2 coming up.

Heres a song for your troubles

Concert Review: Sharon Jones, October 29th, Kool Haus

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 3 Comments

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Toronto – Last Wednesday brought Toronto a veritable soul queen in Sharon Jones. For those of you who are new to Sharon Jones, she is spear-heading a throwback to good old fashioned funk and R&B. Sharon was backed by her band the Dap-Kings, the house band from her label: Daptone Records. Seeing them live is the closest I can imagine to being in Harlem during the height of soul and funk in the 70’s.

The Dap-Kings are tight. Most notable for me was watching the bassist Bosco Mann get to work. He held everything down like nobody’s business and was clearly leading the charge. It didn’t surprise me to discover later that he is the mastermind behind large swathes of Sharon’s repertoire. In a world of synthesized music (much of which I enjoy), I must say that there’s something really clean and refreshing about listening to an old-school funk band. No crazy digitized effects, just straight up bare-bones amplification for the guitars, bass, drums, sweet brass, and of course the very impressive pipes of Mrs Jones.

But what review is complete without a comment about the venue? The answer of course is many. But I’ll talk about the Kool Haus anyway. Although I’ve never been a huge fan of the Kool Haus/Government, I do have a juicy little tidbit for all you keen concert going types. Yes, it’s hard to get to, and yes it’s a bit out of the way. Yes, you have to pay for parking, but there is parking on the street that’s free. Yes, those spots evaporate quickly. BUT, if you drive one street west and the drive north of the highway, there is a much higher chance you’ll find parking on the street and, it’s still only a 5 minute walk from the venue. Most people never think to park north of the Gardiner.

I do realize that broadcasting this little tip means that I’ll be less likely to park there myself next time. So don’t ever say I don’t do stuff for you people.

Sharon Jones 4/5

Concert Review: The Rumble Strips, October 29th, El Mocambo

Posted on by Wade in Concerts, Everything | 6 Comments

rumble strips

(Toronto) I really hate ska (ska punk) . When I hear the word ska, I immediately think of over weight, middle aged, tattooed guys in black suits and funny hats playing their trumpets, which happen to be connected to their wallet via a long chain. Now I didn’t know much about The Rumble Strips going into tonights show at the El Mo except that I really liked their song Girls And Boys In Love. In what little I read about the band before the show, the infamous ska word was mentioned more than once. As I paid my $13 at the door I was dreading having to sit through some shitty Mighty Mighty Bosstone want-to-be performance. When five skinny, pale dudes from Coronation Street took the stage, I knew that I was going to be OK. And I was.

For the 25 of us in attendance, The Rumble Strips gave it their all. Those who came out were defiantly fans and the subtle, appreciative crowd sang along to their rocking, marching anthems. Tracks like Motorcycle and Alarm Clock kicked the shit out of the freezing cold El Mo.

At one point, bass player Sam Mansbridge busted out his own drum and when his drum stick broke he picked some random hard thing he found on stage and bounced it off the drum. When that thing got lost, he preceeded to beat the shit out of the drum with his hand for the remainder of the song. It looked like it hurt, but it rocked.

The Rumble Strips reminded me of the Canadian trumpet rocking super group, TheWet Secrets. Even a Zutons comparison might be in order. Whatever it is, the Rumble Strips are fun and worth catching. And they definitely aren’t ska.