Concert Review: Miracle Fortress, Born Ruffians, Lees Palace, April 26

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 2 Comments

Toronto – Canadian bands packing Canadian crowds drinking Canadian beer. That was pretty much Saturday nite for the packed house at Lees Palace. I drank Wellington’s SPA, so I don’t know if that is Canadian or not. Someone look it up and post it in the comments please. PLEASE. Saturday night was a kind of a weird vibe, the TTC was on strike, the Raptors and the Blue Jays lost – hell even the Habs lost. All signs pointed to a disappointing night. Wrong.

Despite the fact that there was no public transit available – Lee’s Palace was packed. Not only that, it seemed packed from the get go – enough for me to think that this show was a double bill, rather then Miracle Fortress opening up for Born Ruffians. Some random band had started the show off, but I was watching hockey at the time, so I do not know who they were or how they played. I am sure they were more then alrite though and you should definitely check them out.

Back to Miracle Fortress, obviously getting great buzz from their CBC approved ‘Five Roses’ cd last year, the band quietly came out to an almost full crowd at around 11:00 pm. The threesome consists of Jordan Robson-Cramer on the drums, lead vocal Graham Van Pelt and female guitarist Jessie Stein, wearing something that was a cross of a summer dress and a kitchen apron. Regardless, girl with guitar = Panic Manual Approved. For the next fourty minutes or so, they went thru songs mostly from Five Roses – including some jams and extending outro’s. There was some awkward banter from Jessie Stein mainly and they concluded the set with the hit ‘Maybe Lately’. I thought the vocals were a bit too quiet and the drums were too loud, but man the drummer is pretty good. He would attach all sorts of random materials to his drumset and used that to make sounds. Probably has been doing that since he was a kid. It was a good set, only complaint being the muddled vocals at times.

By the time the roadies had finished up setting up for the Born Ruffians, Lees Palace was really packed. How are these people getting home? Surely they all don’t live within walking distance as I do – maybe they have cars. Rich assholes. As some might know, the Born Ruffians are a Toronto band. Which means lots of friends and family (one of the members said “hi” to their mom) in the crowd. However, by the end of the night – everyone was a friend. The band came on probably around midnight and right off the bat, you can tell this was going to be a good show. The crowd was hyped and from the first chord to the last, people was jumping up and down, hands in the air, dancing, singing to every single note coming out of Luke Lalonde’s mouth. Please note that I was standing in the middle area of the venue, so yea I have no idea how people were behind me. Probably boring.

How was the band themselves? Well, after attending the show, you have to say – the Born Ruffians music are perfect for small type venues. It’s got that college/pub rock sound to it that is way interactive with all the chanting choruses and the ‘whoooos’ and ‘aaaaaaaahhhs’. The band played songs from both albums, and I think ended the set with Hummingbird with a bunch of friends on stage. In the end I think everyone who went to the show as satisfied and for those who couldn’t make it – it looks like they are doing the Europe thing for the summer, and I am sure by the time they get back, it’ll probably be at a bigger venue which might ruin the nice cozy family environment that was Saturday nite’s at Lees


Hot Docs: White Vans with Carts Of Darkness

Posted on by Wade in Everything, Hot Docs, Movies | Leave a comment

Two movies from Vancouver. Lets start with White Vans

I love short films. White Vans is everything that a short film or short documentary should be. It was fun, to the point, had a beginning, middle, end and left you wanting to watch it again.

This is a story of Aren Hansen who had his bike stolen. He is so angry that he decides to set up a sting operation using a planted bike in a high bike theft area of Vancouver. He catches his bike thief on camera and in the act, but then something weird happens. These bike thieves who you hate for the entire film suddenly get compassion from you. As you watch this guy try and steal Arens’ bike, you end up wanting him to get away with it. This movie ultimately ends up being about compassion and trying to make the world a better place by doing what is right. Not bad for a 13 minute short.

Bad Boogie Balling from the Pink Mountain Tops was a nice surprise too.

Carts of Darkness

This movie was billed as being about homeless guys who race shopping carts down hills in Vancouver. But really, it has nothing to do with shopping carts and/or hills.

The movie starts out all about the extreme sport of cart racing and the homeless bottle collectors that do it. Then the movie shifts to focus on the lives and struggles that these men face and the choices they have made in their lives. The director, Murray Siple, told us during the Q&A that he made this movie with the National Film Board. During the process the NFB told him that he had to make the movie WITH his homeless bottle collecting cast, rather than ABOUT them. He did exactly this and it worked.

This movie is about Murray and how he connects to his homeless cast. In the final shot of the movie, it all comes together when Murray is able to give something back to his film friends who have given so much of themselves during the filming process. It is an inspiring moive that everybody can find something that connects to the struggles in their own lives.

Also some great Ladyhawk and Black Mountain in the soundtrack.


If you are keeping track, that is a grand total of 10/10 for these two Vancouver flicks. A solid program to see. The next showing is happening Thursday, April 24th at 12:00 PM at the Isabel Bader

Hot Docs: Junior

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies, Sports | 1 Comment

Toronto – As most people know, hockey is more or less religion in Canada. You might not see it in such an ethnically diverse urban metropolis such as Toronto, but travel to any small town anywhere else in Canada and you will see that people there live and breath hockey. Most of these little towns primarily follow their junior teams as NHL teams are for the big boys. These junior teams are the heart and soul of the cities – which leads to the documentary I saw on Sunday – Junior.

Junior chronicles a year in the life of a junior hockey team – Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, one of the major factories in creating NHL players. The documentary chronicles most of the things you would want to know about life as a junior hockey – the pressure, the business side of things, the scouts, the wear and tear – pretty much everything of interest happens during the course of the year. The documentary focuses on a few players – the superstar on the team, the new hot shot, the bully and a homesick kid. As cliche as some of these are, you know they exist within the fabrics of most sport teams and it makes for a compelling look at the industry.

The film never shows any hockey clips, and primarily relies on events and peoples reactions to gather emotional momentum. Being a hockey fan, I found this documentary quite intriguing and it provided the public with inside access to all the factors that plague a hockey team and if you are a sports fan, its well worth the effort to go and see it.


Junior plays today at 4:30 at Innis Town Hall, wherever that is.

I hate to end articles on a down note, so here is a song. Call it an ode to these junior players, as they have to grow up quickly and stuff. Or something.:

Hot Docs: Carny

Posted on by Ricky in Hot Docs, Movies | 1 Comment

Toronto – One of the movies I had wanted to watch quite a bit was a little documentary by Allison Murray called “Carny” which is – “An intimate, gritty and poetic adventure following the lives of carnies, traveling fairground workers who have abandoned the security of the “real world” for the refuge and variety of the road.” according to the website.

Its really hard to write a review when you are listening to the Flight of the Conchords cd. I have to say. Anyways, I’ll do my best. So how was this documentary? It was alrite. Sometimes, the camera was a bit shaky but that’s hardly a complaint. Most of the documentary followed a few characters – all outsiders who somehow found family in the carny. The characters include – a lesbian with a troubled past, a odd threesome, a guy who was born into it and some other random people. All winners. Haha, no seriously. It’s a look into why the carnies do what they do (travel town to town and work for ridiculously low rates). The pay is not good for Carnies, let me tell you.

My only complaint with the film is that I think the documentary takes the most extreme of cases for characters working in the carnival. Maybe it is to make it more dramatic and such, but I am not convinced that these characters can represent all carnies out there. I guess the film is more about outsiders anyway. I didn’t find any of the characters that likable either.