CMW Review: Joel Plaskett, Mar 13, Mod Club

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – Ah Joel Plaskett. We here at the Panic Manual have a soft spot in our heart for Mr. Plaskett. So far we’ve covered three of his live shows (here, here, and here). I suppose that makes this number four. He played last Saturday night at the Mod Club, accompanied by fellow singer/songwriter Peter Elkas. It was rainy, it was windy, and yet still people lined up for the opportunity to hear just a tiny abbreviated set of Joel’s music. Now that’s dedication.

“Is there a reason you loves this town?” – crowd member
“There are many reasons I love this town. Damn.” – Joel Plaskett

What else can I say about this genuine east coast rocker? I suppose what’s just as impressive as Joel’s guitar and vocal skills is what he does to a crowd. His mix of talent, humble east-coast upbringing and down-to-earth attitude makes him an endearing personality and a crowd favourite. There’s just something about him that prods us fast-paced downtown urbanites to smile and let our shields down; for a second we resolve to be more civil to our fellow strangers in this wild concrete rat race. Granted, it’s a passing resolution at best. But thankfully Joel comes to town frequently enough to keep prodding us in the right direction.

Joel won the Indie music award for best solo artist of the year later that night at the Royal York hotel. It’s a well deserved award for standup Canadian artist.

CMW Review: P.O.S, March 14, Sneaky Dee’s

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – You know how at fests like this, you often see a performer who stands out above the rest, who puts on a show that blows you away? (Either that or no one stands out and you’re left bitter and hating music … yeah, I’ve been there.)  Well this may have been that show.

P.O.S. is a rapper out of Minneapolis who blends rap with the attitude and aggression of punk rock.  I know, it sounds a bit dubious, but don’t worry we’re not talking Linkin Park or Gym Class Heroes here … this guy is actually good.  Part of the Doomtree collective, he’s currently signed to Rhymesayers, home to Atmosphere and MF Doom.  And he’s collaborated with Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn in the past, so that gives him all the cred in the world in my book.

The punk influence was evident in songs like Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty), where he spit out the refrain “We’re all thirsty!” with the same intensity that Ian Mackaye would a Fugazi lyric.  “If you know the words, sing them not only like you wrote them yourself but like it’s just you and your closest friends in the room” he said at the start of his set.  And the crowd responded in kind, shouting his words back at him throughout the night.  I had never heard of him before tonight, but much of the crowd certainly had, and many seemed to know every word.  P.O.S. seemed genuinely appreciative of the sizeable crowd and fed off their energy. 

The show also included a thumb wrestling interlude where he challenged audience members, references to Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter, and compliments to his DJ and to opener Astronautilis (“It’s 2010, it’s all about complimenting your guy friends.” he said) 

This was probably the most unexpected suprise of the entire week for me. (although honourable mention goes out to Israeli metal band Orphaned Land, who totally kicked ass while wearing robes onstage)  P.O.S. is a pretty engaging performer.

CMW Review: Handsome Furs, Mar 12, El Mocambo

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 4 Comments

Handsome_Furs_El_Mocambo_March_12_2010

Toronto – As we’ve mentioned before, at music festivals like CMW, it’s likely that you’ll only catch parts of certain sets. Especially if you are busy hopping from venue to venue. For the first time in 28 years, CMW was completely sold out this year. As the festival has grown, the fans have become more plentiful. Sold out shows have made venue-hopping increasingly difficult. Throughout the week I’ve ran into a number of frustrated fans who were unable to see the bands they wanted because of lineups and capacity crowds. Unfortunately it seems like CMW has become a victim of its own success, despite the cold and wet weather thrown our way.

But CMW is about discovering and enjoying Canadian talent, so let’s get to the music. It’s not entirely fair that I cover the Handsome Furs show last Friday at the El Mocambo because I only caught the last 20 minutes of it. Not surprisingly, it was a much hyped and very sold out show. However, it was such an amazing experience that it deserves mention. Montreal-based Handsome Furs consists of guitarist singer Dan Coeckner (from Wolf Parade) and his wife Alexei Perry. They play a supremely charged and intense electro indie rock that is insanely infectious.

Since it was the last night of the show, they got the opportunity to perform a festival rarity by playing an encore. It was the most intensely charged 20 minutes of music I heard at CMW this year; I will be jumping at the opportunity to see them live again.

CMW Film Review: Separado! [Dyl “Goch” Jones, Gruff Rhys, 2009]

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week, Everything, Movies | 2 Comments

Toronto – Separado! is the story of Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys’ quest to find some distant relatives.  It’s also kind of about language, the love of music and just music in general. 

Driven by the desire to meet René Griffiths, a Welsh-Argentinian musician who he once saw on the BBC as a kid and then discovered was related to , Gruff travels to Patagonia to trace his family’s lineage there and to play some music along the way. 

So off he goes to Patagonia, armed with an acoustic guitar, various electronic noisemakers, and a motorcycle helmet looking piece of headgear which supposedly teleports him from place to place (Go Go Power Rangers!)  The helmet is one of the odd stylistic choices Griff has made and it suits the film perfectly.  This, along with the bizarre opening reenactment of a tragic horseracing accident and the opening credits done in ’60s/”70s explotation film style, make a great story even more enjoyable.  There are also several musical interludes that are basically little music videos within the film.

And the music is central to this film.  Even though the thrust of the story is about the search for Griffiths and various other family members, in many ways, it’s really about the music.  Another large reason for Griff’s trip was that he had a new album coming out and had to go on tour.  Deciding he was sick of just going to towns where abooking agent or promoter says there will be a good crowd, Gruff goes way off the beaten path, playing shows in various parts of South America.  His shows are often in small community centre type places (and in one case, an open field with an audience of one horse) and it’s amazing to see the audience’s reactions to this Welshman playing his beautiful, bizarre little tunes for them.  People of all ages (and largely Welsh heritage) come out to the shows and all seem to be enjoying themselves.

One of my favourite parts of the movie is when Gruff meets up and collaborates with a musician named Tony, who plays an electronic percussive instrument he built himself.  Even though neither man understands the other, they share the language of music to the point where all they need is to jam and give each other the thumbs up every now and then.  Language itself is another interesting theme of the film, with Gruff switching between Welsh and English in his narration and also seen in  the various Patagonian residents who hold on to their language and heritage despite the fact that I’m sure many of them have never even been to Wales. 

If you are a Super Furry Animals fan, this one is a must see and even if you’ve never heard them before, it’s still pretty much a must see.  Now I just need to find out where to get one of those teleporter helmets.