Concert Review: Lullebye Arkestra, LadyHawk, Constantines, The Garrison, Dec 17

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 1 Comment


Toronto – I hate the winter. I can’t even imagine why anyone would be walking along here a few hundred years and think ‘hmm, this stinging sensation I like on my face, I like it! Lets live here permanantly!‘. It’s so cold. Anyways, once winter comes, the concert season purely becomes a season about proximity. Since I live in the west, the shows I’d most likely randomly pop into become Lee’s Palace, the Mod Club and now, the Garrison. These are all within walking distance for me. Even the Horseshoe and El Mo become slight hesitations. So on Thursday night, courtesy of the blog Singing Lamb, I was notified of the fact that the Constantines and Ladyhawk were playing a “secret show” at the Garrison. Please don’t make any Lamb/Lam jokes. It’s played out.

Now I won’t lie to you, I haven’t heard much of the Constantines since that album with the song ‘Young Lions’ on it, and really, I only know of Ladyhawk through Wade. However, the word ‘secret’ makes me feel a bit special, as if I’m part of some elite organization of individuals or something. Either that or I’m an alcoholic looking for any excuse to get out of the house and have a drink. I’m going with the first one for now. Seeing how the Constantines sold out two shows at Lees Palace last weekend, I thought this show was going to be packed and so I went early. I also managed to convince some other members of my posse to go…


ooooooooooo yeaaaaah. The opening band was Lullabye Arkestra, a Toronto band featuring Do May Say Think’s Justin Small on the drums with Katia Taylor on the bass. These guys were straight up pure sleaze sex and rock n roll. Justin really liked to stand up and play drums, and was really appreciative of the Constantines being there, and also made fun of their age. Katia Taylor plays a pretty mean bass and delivered some wicked banshee like cries into the microphone. They were pretty decent and definitely set the tone for the night. After a cool 40 minute set, they left to a decent ovation.

Next up was Ladyhawk. I think by this time, both Wade and Patricia were tired of my Ladyhawk / Ladyhawke jokes. “I saw Ladyhawk already! only it was the New Zealand one! hahahahahahahahahahaha!”. It’s not even funny. Wade was a big fan of their older stuff, but I guess Ladyhawk decided to play a lot of new music. There was a few older tunes that got the crowd going. I guess they are a pretty normal guitar rock band group. They didn’t really do all that much for me, but I spent most of their set thinking about how a “Ladyhawk vs Ladyhawke” article would work, and then ultimately decided it wouldn’t. I think they played around 45 minutes.

Constantines came on a bit after midnight. I’m always reminded of the movie when I think of this band. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since they’ve been around. If anything it’s just an indication that I am old. Thinking about it, my favorite music period of “britpop” was HALF MY LIFE ago. It was a bittersweet moment as I realize that aging is indeed inevitable, unless you are benjamin button. The most shocking thing about this show was that the Garrison was only half full! This was a bit of a shocker (not the finger kind). Maybe Lauren and co. had kept it too secret. Less crowds mean more room which is good. I was pretty pleased with this outcome until about halfway through the set when Giant Gonzalez decided to stand in front of me:


Now as a 6’1 man, I have never really known what it was like to not get a good clean sight line to the stage, but once the white kareem abdul jabbar stood in front of me, blocking my entire view, I understood. It’s no fun. I was put in my place. Never again will I look at a short person at a concert and not get their beef. I am one of you now. This guy was so tall and blocked my view so completely, that the guy standing beside him at turned around and laughed. Sigh. So I decided to stand up and move, and then and only then, could I enjoy the rest of the show.

The show itself was pretty good. The Constantines have always felt like a working class type of band. Sometimes it’s good to go to these shows and keep it real. Going to the neighborhood bar, drinking cheap ass beer (PBR), mingling with the folks, comparing debts with the other people ‘trying to make it in the city’, throwing my jacket on a pool table and not worry about it being stolen, seeing a good honest guitar rock n roll band…it’s all part of the Constantine experience. What am I saying? I don’t know. I don’t even talk to anyone during a show.

The roughly one hour set ended with a wicked AC/DC cover, you know, the one where theres some kind of screaming with some guitar riff. As expected, some other people joined them on stage for the cover and it was a good way to end off a good night.

Concert Review: Colin Moore/Revolvers/Cavaliers! Dec. 10, Lee’s Palace

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

So, to begin with … there’s a burrito place in the front section pf Lee’s Palace now.  I’d heard it was coming, but it’s pretty weird to see it there nonetheless.  Still, I’m sure I’ll probably hit it up after a show there one of these nights.

Also, I am a fool with poor time management skills and so I showed up after Colin Moore had already started his set.  Regardless, what I did see was pretty good.  Moore has a good rootsy sound, slightly punk influenced singer/songwriter tunes carried by his raspy vocals.  The highlight of his set was the songs “Friends of Mine,” which of course reminded me of my friends, even though it would have been written about Colin Moore’s friends or perhaps some generic friends who only exist in the world of the song.  Who knows?

Revolvers were up next.  They had a definite ’60s influence … or perhaps to be more precise, they sounded more influenced by the bands from the ’80s and ’90s who were influenced by the ’60s.  They reminded me at times of Spiritualized or Spacemen 3.  In fact, the singer/guitarist even looked a bit like Jason Pierce.  Also, the drummer sang lead on several songs and any band with a singing drummer is ok by me.

It was at this point that I decided to head over to a nearby convenience store and wander the aisles instead of standing around by myself in the venue.  I perused the canned goods section in the back, a necessity of any decent convenience store.  I’m really not sure that anyone’ll be buying a can of Vienna sausages for $1.99, but who knows?  Maybe when 2012 hits, people will be lining up at their door willing to pay that and more.  And maybe they’ll pick up a bottle of real maple syrup for only $14.99 while they’re at it.  Mmmm … maple syrup.

I headed back inside to catch Cavaliers, who I enjoyed quite a bit.  They’ve got a kind of poppy, folky, alt countryish sound full of sweet,sweet harmonies and the occasional guitar solo.  Actually, quite a few guitar solos, ranging from some spot on Neil Young-isms to some not quite there yet Nels Cline approximations.  They did a cover of Ryan Adams “Blue Roses” which fit in nicely with their own tunes.  Near the end of the set, Colin Moore jumped on stage to briefly play harmonica during their last tune, then left the stage just as quickly as he appeared.  They put on a pretty solid show.  I would check them out again.

Concert Review: the xx, Friendly Fires, Phoenix, December 2

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything | 3 Comments


While we were at The XX / Friendly Fires show last night I found myself pondering this question the entire time the xx were on stage: What the hell was I doing when I was 20 years old? If memory serves correctly, I would’ve been getting blitzed every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, and trying not to fail my Greek and Roman Classics 101 course. I also went to a lot of formal dances with my boyfriend at RMC, but lord knows I wasn’t penning albums of the year or putting out the most wicked basslines heard since David Lynch scored Wild at Heart.

OK…to be fair here…If you were to ask me if the xx put on an energetic show last night the answer would be a resounding NO. The trio looked as if they’d been visited by some energy-sapping vampires the night before and the drama of having a member drop out due to exhaustion might make that theory more fact than fiction. I’d say the only limbs that moved onstage was during their last song…sort of an extended ‘Infinity’ when vocalist/bassist Jamie Smith started banging the bejesus out of a pair of cymbals to end off on. Romy Croft wins the mannequin-performer prize for moving only her fingers while strumming the guitar, though. You might think this was a shitty disappointment for us seeing as their debut album is near the top of our picks for 2009 but there was one thing that redeemed them…the music. This is an amazing album with some amazing guitar / bass work and it is something else to hear something of this caliber, live. The vocals were right on save for some wavering from Romy during Shelter. But shit, they’re 20! This is their first North American tour and comparing them to someone like say, Passion Pit, they at least delivered the goods of sounding on key even if they completely lacked showmanship.

Showmanship is what the Friendly Fires are for anyway. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that these guys are consistently entertaining, and that lead singer Ed MacFarlane’s hips are consistently limber. I thought the vocals were a little off because of his gyrating jimmy arm-movements but his enthusiasm sure as hell was infectious. Their handsome bearded guitarist also got into the act, jumping on a speaker trying to drum up clapping and such..and you know what? It worked. It always does. You can’t go to see these guys and NOT holler. They also went through the effort of mixing up their live act with some saxophone accompaniment..when they were at Lee’s Palace in the spring it was more of a conga-ish feeling. Also, they played Kiss of Life, which what Ricky was waiting for.

Since these guys have about an album a piece I’m not going to bother going through their setlists (but post them here if you have them). One thing I would like to say though, is that if you’re going to pay to go to a show and bother to stand close to the stage…STOP FUCKING TALKING. For the love of god, stand near the back if all you want to do is dis the opener. No one wants to hear it and at risk of sounding like a school marm, it’s just plain disrespectful.

That is all.

Concert Review: Bebel Gilberto, Sound Academy, November 30

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 1 Comment

Bebel Gilberto at the Sound Academy

Toronto – Last night Bebel Gilberto brought her Bossa Nova influenced music to Toronto as part of a tour promoting her latest album, All In One. Opening for Miss Gilberto was Vancouver-based Alex Cuba, a Cuban-born musician. Together the two shows provided for a solid night of latin music that varied from laidback chill vibes to upbeat dance-friendly fun.

Alex Cuba is an afro-sporting musician that has fused elements of soul & funk with Cuban music into a style all his own. He plays electric guitar without a pick using the syncopated rhythm of traditional Cuban Son (think Buena Vista Social Club). However, he fuses elements of Cuban Son with 70’s funk. The result is infectious and extremely crowd pleasing. His collaborations with Nelly Furtado has definitely increased his visibility as an upcoming musician. I look forward to seeing Alex Cuba headline his own show.

Next up was Miss Gilberto herself, and you could tell there were a number of Brazillian expats in the audience just clamoring for the opportunity to see her live. She was accompanied by a competent 4-piece band that, while not digging in, certainly knew how to keep things together. The pianist seemed like he was bored to tears plodding through some of the Bossa Nova numbers. However, the young Brazillian saxophonist/flutist/guitarist was totally digging the spotlight and did a commendable job at that.

Now, If I named a place “The Sound Academy”, I would imagine that the place would have to be either A) an amazing sounding venue, or B) a school for sound engineers to learn their craft. Hopefully it would be a combination of the two. After hearing Alex Cuba play with very reasonable levels and sound, I was *almost* going to congratulate the Sound Academy for a job well done. I say almost.

Unfortunately during Bebel’s set there was clearly some level and monitor problems. The sax was barely heard for the first half of the show. It got so bad for the drummer that he actually walked off the stage in the middle of a song to physically pull a sound guy over to listen to his headphones. I’ve never seen that happen before and it had a jarring effect on musicians and crowd alike. I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll probably mention it again, but the Sound Academy it is not.

Despite the technical issues, Bebel put on a solid show with material from her latest album mixed in with some hits from previous works. It was a night of feelgood music for the hardy souls willing to make the trek out to the Sound Academy on a Monday night.