Toronto – I’m going to confess straight off the bat that this is going to be a highly sexual review coming from a randy post-80′s electronica novice. This has nothing to do with having the pleasure of being searched and molested at the Opera House and everything to do with the droolworthiness of Brooklyn openers School of Seven Bells and of course the stubbled perfection of M83′s Anthony Gonzalez.
Judging from the size of the crowd for openers SO7B they must either have quite the fanbase in Toronto already from their critical buzz generated around Alpinisms or else everyone unfamiliar with them did their MySpace research and looked at their photograph collection. As my concert companion noted to me, “If this band thing doesn’t end up working out for them, they can always model”. Well put. The smokey-eyed twin sister vocalists are the stuff of indie-hipster-boy-wet-dreams. And the music you ask? Oh yes, the music…well, if Ladytron/Kate Bush/Cocteau Twins/a distant cousin of Cut-Copy mated with a fairy dust sprinkling of psychedelic LSD you’d get School of Seven Bells live. I recognized Half Asleep and I’m assuming most of the other tracks are off Alpinisms. Good set in any case with a surprisingly nice mix of electric guitars and electronica.
Now for M83. Oh, M83 how Toronto loves you. Although my companion and I were likely the only people pressed up near the stage in the pushing-30 to pushing-40 age range, I can say it was refereshing to see the young people getting down and dirty with the bouncing around, dancing, hooting and hollering. I should note here that every couple at this show must’ve been feeling the hypersexual juju that night because we were surrounded by couples who were a hair away from the dry hump (did I miss a free e tablet giveaway or something??).
Let me just say here that M83 is quite different live, as most great bands are. As with the Deerhunter show last week I have to say I found their live set 3-dimensional, loud, almost tactile–their studio recordings by comparison seem to have “flattened” a bit after the experience of seeing them jam with their bad selves in person. Gonzalez set up a mesmerizing magical mixing box with hypnotic christmas lights inside that treated the recorded vocals as more of a background instrument for many of the songs. At first I was like, hey! This is supposed to be a LIVE show–I don’t care how handsome you are with your seductive stubble and your casual good looks–you should be SINGING. But then I realised what an idiot I was being. Of course vocals can be treated as a background instrument or sample…and it’s great when they *are* in a live show so that they can focus on creating a new instrumental animal. What they did with real instruments went above and beyond my expectations and I particularly want to point out the ripping good drummer who was given much to do (and was so good he was the only member of the band protected by a bullet-proof shield; we were joking that perhaps they had a date coming up in Detroit or Compton).
The crowd went wildest during Kim & Jessie and Graveyard Girl, probably their two best known tunes to date, but my favorite parts of their set involved their drum-intensive instrumental jams and adorable graciousness–they seemed genuinely touched at the audience’s enthusiasm. I’ll definitely see them again–an audio spooge all around.