Rhubarb Festival: Haunting!, Insurgency and Headbangers

Posted on by Wade in Everything, Theatre | 3 Comments

Rae Spoon, photo by JJ Levine

My Rhubarb Saturday, by Ashley Botting

The phallus-like unicorn horn emerging from the questionably-gendered woman on the cover of the brochure was enough to convince me that the Rhubarb Festival might be worth checking out. Last Saturday night, I attended “Week 2” shows at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in downtown Toronto. Each week features all new performances.

All the Rhubarb shows are short. Like 30 minutes. So, the festival feels like a tapas of presentations. There are two spaces, so audiences have to choose which show to see. I figured I’d really roll the dice and choose solely based on play titles.

The first show, Hunting!, was a song and story solo piece by transgendered singer/songwriter Rae Spoon. Rae wove his songs through personal stories about his life growing up in Alberta as a transgendered person in an uber-Christian family. On two occasions, his songs were supported by some animation on a screen behind him, created by Jessica McCormack. The stories were compelling, mostly due to their content, but the animation fell short of supporting the show in the way it was intended. But Rae is an intriguing performer, and I love to spend another evening just listening to him sing his stories.

Insurgency, the second show of the evening, was unexpectedly intriguing. Five teenaged actors delivered personal monologues about what they would fight for. The pre-recorded images of the same kids setting up camp under the Gardner expressway that played in the background left me slightly confused, but the actors themselves were charming, honest, and brave. It was a pleasant reminder that Generation Z, as they have been called, has the capacity to think beyond themselves and the things they own.

I had a choice between two 9 PM performances, and I opted for Headbangers. Four performers in the fictitious band “Cracked Nipple” were essentially singing the praises of the lost headbanging movement.

I thought I’d only see gay people talking about the experience of being gay, but I saw much more at The Rhubarb Festival. The great thing about it is that the shows are short enough to leave you wanting more, or make you glad to leave. Either way, it’s a unique theatrical experience, and worth, in the very least, a little taste.

The third and final week of The Rhubarb festival runs Feb 24-28 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander Street, Toronto.

Concert Review: El Perro Del Mar, Feb. 21, 2010, The Mod Club

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

Toronto – With two Swedish bands playing, it was Nordic night at The Mod Club.  In fact, taking into account the documentary on Norwegian black metal that I saw on Saturday, this was a whole Nordic themed weekend for me … but I digress.  I will add though that El Perro Del Mar and Taken By Trees seem much nicer than Count Grischnach and are highly unlikely to burn down any churches.

When I arrived at the club, Taken By Trees were already more than halfway through their set, which was a bit disappointing as they sounded really good, a bit reminiscent of bands like Belle and Sebastien or Camera Obscura, but with maybe a bit more of an exotic vibe.  They incorporated some bongos into their sound at times and the keyboard player had a nice trippy flute type sound he used from time to time, giving me the impression of the aforementioned bands jamming with Rick Wakeman or Kitaro.  Awesome.  The trippiness was further enhanced by the video screens showing nature images in a loop – things like flowers, raccoons, and what I think was people riding horses through the water.  One of their last few songs was introduced as “a rare song … a b-side” and it ended up being the best of the bunch in my opinion, having a bit of a twangy vibe.

After a break, El Perro del Mar took the stage and I was surprised to find that singer Sarah Assbring was backed up by the same band that made up Taken by Trees (minus the keyboard guy).  This is a good thing as they were a pretty solid band.  The rhythm section was especially impressive, with the drummer hitting harder than I had expected and the bass was loud as hell, maybe a bit too loud at times, at least from where I was standing for the first few songs.  Still, the bassist laid down some solid grooves, even sounding a bit dubby at times.

Sarah Assbring has a powerful voice and put it to good use this night.  While singing, she alternated between playing an acoustic guitar and doing a sort of swaying dance that reminded me of something you might see from an 80s pop group like Bananarama or Boy George (I know he’s not a “group” but you get what I’m saying and besides I’m not sure if the other members of Culture Club did much dancing)  or maybe a scene from some long lost John Hughes movie set in Sweden.  The songs ranged from slightly uptempo tunes to some more downbeat yet lush sounding ballads like “It Is Something (To Have Wept).”  She also engaged the crowd with some awkward but endearing attempts at stage banter that didn’t always elicit much response.  That could have something to do with the fact that it was a Sunday, something she herself mentioned on stage. 

“I know it’s a Sunday, but we’re going to try and get a groove going.” she said.  They did.

Late Night Show Music Guests – Feb 22 to Feb 26

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, Late Night Show Music Guests | Leave a comment

Toronto – Here are this week’s late night guests. Practically nothing of note due to Olympics

Monday – Nothing of note, except Ricky Gervais is on the Daily Show, always awesome. Snowboarder Shaun White is on Letterman. Doesn’t that guy seem high ALWAYS? How does he get so much higher in the air on the snowboard then anyone else? It reminds me of my super snowboarder character on SSX Tricky. I loved that game. RIP PS2.

Tuesday – Absolutely nothing here.

Wednesday – ditto.

Thursday – Drew Brees is on a rerun of letterman, VV Brown will be on Kimmel, giving her the ‘best music act to be on this weeks late night tv’ trophy. She’ll be at SXSW and at the Wrongbar in Toronto on March 30, 2010. Go check it out. Speaking of Drew Brees, did anyone see the video of Oprah trying to wipe off Drew Brees birthmark, thinking it was lipstick?

Probably a joke, but a poor one.

Friday – Nothing.

What a crappy tv week if you are an insomniac and a late night music watcher.

If you are having a crappy week, at least you aren’t Marion Rolland. Check out her Olympic ski run:

Marion Rolland falls from rob leblanc on Vimeo.

Four years of training. Ouch.

Remix Wednesdays: El Perro Del Mar featuring Lykke Li – Change of Heart (Robyn’s Rakamonie Remix)

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, Remixes | 1 Comment

Toronto – During the Olympics, its always a good time to see fellow countrymen bond and unite for a greater cause. This is the case with Sweden’s El Perro Del Mar, who teamed up with fellow Swede Lykke Li for the song Change of Heart off her 2009 album Love is Not Pop. This song was remixed by another Swede – Robyn and is a nice uptempo (but not that uptempo) version of the original. Check it out.

El Perro Del Mar plays with another Swede band – Taken By Trees on Sunday at the Mod Club.