Half an hour til midnight and Victoria Hesketh aka Little Boots had yet to take the stage at Wrongbar. The little Tenori-On on the side of the stage was slowly flashing the name Little Boots in it’s little dots and everyone was waiting..and waiting.
5 minutes later later, a tiny singer came out, the opening sounds of “Meddle” came on, and all the bitterness towards having to be at a late show on a Monday night was all forgotten. Last night’s fantastic display of pop music can be summarized by lyrics from Little Boot’s hit single New in Town:
I’m gonna take you out tonight
I’m gonna make you feel alright
The lyrics may not be scholarly worthy, but it is based on the premise of truth – going to a Little Boots show is going to make you feel alright. Ask anyone at the show last night. Armed with a drummer and a synth/effects guy, Little Boots played a very efficient and energetic set consisting of the songs off her debut album Hands as well as the Freddie Mercury cover Love Kills off the Buffet Libre compilation.
Having listened to the albums many times, the live versions of the songs definitely make you realize that most of these songs have some great anthem elements to them. Songs like “Earthquake” and “Symmetry” sounded much better (and more important) then their album counterparts due to the hyped up choruses in the live setting. Similarly, hit songs like “Remedy” and set closer “Stuck on Repeat” (with a drum/bass heavy extended intro) sounded like the dance floor classics you had expected.
All in all, a fantastic show.
*PS . Wrongbar, perhaps you should figure out an AC system that works + we don’t need a smoke machine.
Toronto – The last time I went to a concert featuring Swedish New Wavers The Sound, it was 2004 and they had been riding a large wave of popularity based on their hit song “Livng in America”. It was at Horseshoe and I remember the show being pretty good. I haven’t really followed the band since, so it was to a large surprise when a few days ago I was invited to see their show at the Phoenix on Sunday in promotion of their latest album – Crossing The Rubicon. I was surprised that
a) they are still around,
b) they have an album out
c) they could play the Phoenix, a medium size venue.
Well, it turns out that they probably couldn’t play the Phoenix, as it was also the same night of the MTV’s Video Music Awards. Normally, this wouldn’t effect most bands, but given the sound of the new material, perhaps a large demographic of the crowd missing was at home watching Kanye West make an ass of himself once again.
On to the concert – I arrived at 10:15 and was surprised to find that the Sounds were already on stage and had played around 3 songs already. The Phoenix was about half full, and I was amazed – I haven’t heard of the Sounds in so long, and here was this dedicated fan base singing along to every song they had. Who are these people? It was surprisingly an olderish crowd, but there were some younger people, even kids. I think I spent the first 1/2 hour of the concert trying to figure out what type of people The Sounds appealed to. I still haven’t figured it out. Yet, one thing is for sure, they have built up a dedicated fan base. Most people there knew the lyrics to most of the songs, and there were people who even danced to each track. I’m not talking about head bobbin, shoulder shakin concert dance, I mean all out “you are at a wedding with all your friends and an open bar kinda” dance. It was definitely interesting.
The band itself…well, the Sounds definitely look like a band. All the male band members are borderline anorexic and appear to spend about an hour fixing their hair every morning and lead singer Maja Ivarsson was wearing a tiny Adidas hoodie and really really really short shorts. As a lead, she was moderately engaging, often yelling out “Toooooooroonnnto” and telling everyone that she wanted to turn the concert into a dance floor. I guess given the fact that it was a Sunday night and the venue was half full, I would say she put in a concrete effort in her call and response routine. Gary thought she had two dance moves, but I couldn’t really figure out what was a dance move.
As for the tunes, well I would say this – I still think that “Living in America” is their top song, but I haven’t had a good chance to listen to other songs yet. I definitely am not a big fan of the slower numbers. The beginning of the set saw them comfortably settling into a MTV-esque pop rock genre of music, I could see any of those songs as part of a soundtrack on a show like “The Hills” where Lauren Conrad and Brody Jenner would exchange awkward stares at each other. Some of the lyrics are like:
Don’t want hurt you
Try not to fuck with your feelings
It’s just a matter of trust, for us, for lust
It just screams of something a 14 year old girl would post on her facebook status and then think of it as some sort of “deep” and “dark” poetry. I don’t know. At about the half an hour mark, I was more or less ready to leave and go home and watch the rest of the Green Bay/Chicago game. There was a brief smoking break for the band at this point, and perhaps feeling the non-enthusiasm of the crowd, the band came back on to the stage and played a bunch more new wavy-synth drenched rock, which I have to say, I enjoyed a decent amount.
Overall, it was a mixed bag of a concert for me, the early part was a bit dull, but the last bit of the 90 minute set was some new wave goodness. Everyone else in the crowd seemed to have a good time, and really, that is probably all that matters.
Toronto – Dolphins? Check. Japanese fishermen? Check. Sushi? Check. Drum rolls… and cue Hemingway:
He saw it first when it jumped in the air, true gold in the last of the sun and bending and flapping wildly in the air. It jumped again and again in the acrobatics of its fear… what an excellent fish dolphin is to eat cooked, and what a miserable fish raw. I will never go in a boat again without salt or limes…
… And cut. I made the unfortunate decision to have sushi on Cumberland just before stepping into the theater for The Cove, which may have made me a bit of a pseudo-hypocrite… but I don’t kill dolphins. This isn’t a movie about over-fishing, although it is an acknowledged problem. It also isn’t about cruelty to animals, of which there are plenty in the movie and many would argue that I’m stupid for denying it. This is a documentary about how an anthropocentric view can lull people into beliefs and value systems from which they cannot detach without admitting that they were being ridiculous. Officially, The Cove is a brain-child of the Oceanic Preservation Society, an organization dedicated to photographing and documenting the degradation of our oceans. It highlights the crusade of Ric O’Barry, the trainer responsible for Flipper and many other trained dolphins. Dolphins, with their botox-fixed smiles, are an easy sell (try for example sharks which is also the constant victim of Chinese cooking, or cod/tuna which people do not empathize with because all they ever see is a fillet without big-watery eyes). For Ric and many others (among them surfers who were saved from tiger sharks), there’s nothing to sell. They’re saving a species proven to be particularly intelligent. But try as they might, fishermen, and particularly these ones in Japan, do not see that intelligence. Every September to March, the fishermen at Taiji round up dolphins by confusing them using a sonic barrage and select bottlenose or whichever they find aethetically pleasing for aquarium training.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, they kill the rest of the dolphins, babies included. At the cove where the killings take place, fishermen spear the dolphins, just like the Old Man had done in Hemingway’s classic. And it stains the entire cove, about 50 meters out to the sea, just like in the book. And if these guys have their figures right (23,000 a season), there would be 100+ daily, just like how we hunted sperm whales to near extinction. What do they do with the carcasses afterwards? They sell the meat to consumers. And what’s wrong with that? Like sharks, dolphins are top predators. And the way the oceans are polluted these days, like sharks, their bodies are filled with chemicals and heavy metals, mercury being one of the worst. And if we are the ultimate top predator who eats everything else, guess what happens to us? We get numb and dumb from mercury poisoning. Nice. This movie isn’t the first or last to show cruelty, and for visual brutality doesn’t always compare to vids on youtube (try vermin/gopher hunting…), but the imagery lasts. A dolphin tumbling on its last breath of red streams isn’t going to sit well with a lot of people. Neither will divers bopping happily in bright red seas. But it’s baffling why this practice persists. If I were to put this in terms of the human equivalent: do we kill the rest of an elementary class after we select the brightest/best-looking students? Do we smother the reminder of a litter after we pick the show dogs/cats? And the worst is, according to Hemingway and the mercury levels, dolphin isn’t even that good for sushi… It’s absurd!
I leave the animal-rights activists to their 2-cents, but like many before, it’s a documentary that’s sure to reheat some old arguments. It’s a good one though, worthy if nothing as a thriller. Watching photographers and divers face-off against angry, jock-ish fishermen a foot shorter is hilarious. The mocking laughs from the fishermen is sure to boil some green/environmental blood. The thermal camera added well to the tension. And the entire film was set like an Oceans 11 (no pun intended) atmosphere. It has its sensationalist moments, the sounds being some of the more powerful elements. You could literally see the tears in O’Barry’s eyes when he heard the clicks. The cinematography isn’t Planet Earth shattering, but it’s nicely done. And it did win audience award at Sundance. But I think as an awareness piece, its showing targets the wrong audience. If anything they should show (and they probably had) it to consumers, or at aquariums. Think twice next time when you see the smiles on dolphins.