NXNE – We Are Wolves, El Mocambo, June 14

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, North By Northeast | 5 Comments

Toronto – We Are Wolves are a 3 piece rock n roll band from Montreal. Another CBC Radio 3 endorsed band, it was no surprise when we arrived to a packed house at the El Mo. I think CBC Radio 3 is like the Pitchfork Media of Canada, and Pitchfork Media is the NME of the US, and the NME is the Panic Manual of England, meaning, if they are endorsed by these media outlets, a crowd is guaranteed.

We Are Wolves took the small El Mo stage at 1. Bassist/Vocalist Alex Ortiz came out in some pseudo military garb and keyboardist Vincent Levesque was dressed in Miami Vice-ish attire. I don’t know what the drummer looked like, but I think he stood the whole time. Anyways, right away, they ripped into some song that got the crowd rocking. Alex Ortiz did his best rock star moves, including playing on his knees, jumping up and down, lookin real intense and everything. He has learned much.

The set was delayed early by some (a lot) of technical issues involving the monitor. After ten minutes or so, that problem got solved and the show went on. Normally this is not an issue, but given the 40 minute time slot, you have to wonder if some WAW fans felt shafted at the ten minutes of not music playing these guys did. I didn’t really care, cos they were just keepin it real. Either way, the show went on. I am not familiar with We Are Wolves, but they definitely know how to rock it. Pulsating bass lines followed by a flurry of drums and a layer of synth at just the appropriate time. I didn’t really get a chance to pick up any of the lyrics, but it was something like “ARRrrgh Blughar ROOOOOOOOCK”. Maybe not. I would say they remind me a lot of Death From Above 1979, only French, and with a keyboarder person. A mosh pit developed halfway thru the show and was sustained for the rest of the set, there was multiple drumming, and in general, everyone had a really good rockin time.

In conclusion, life, is sometimes like the We Are Wolves concert. It’s too short, there can be unexpected technical delays at times, but in the end, when it’s all said and done, you can go for chinese food down the street and be like ‘well, that was all good innit?’

Concert Review: My Morning Jacket, June 16, Kool Haus

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 3 Comments

Toronto – So 3 days, 7 concerts, a stroll thru Taste of Little Italy and countless short films later, the weekend and done and all was well again….right? NOPE. Monday came around and my most anticipated show was on the horizon. As you might have read, My Morning Jacket‘s Evil Urges is one of my favorite albums of the year and so I went to the Kool Haus on Monday night with great enthusiasm. The Kool Haus was pretty packed by the time we arrived at 9:45 or 9:50 or so, perhaps this was with the short notice that wristband/badge holders were allowed in before nine for free. Something I was not aware of til I bought the ticket.

My Morning Jacket came on around 10 and immediately started off with the song “Evil Urges”. A sign for the times. Man they were sharp, the guitars sounded crisp, no one instrument dominated another, and Jim James voice carried nicely thru out the warehouse confines of the Kool Haus. That guy has a stadium voice, I have to say. Following up Evil Urges with another song off the new album – Im Amazed – I believe, MMJ went to their back catalog and whipped out “Off The Record” to a great response. From then on, the Kentucky gang pretty much had the crowd in the palm of their hands. The rest of the night featured songs from Evil Urges, as well as song’s from Z and It Still Moves. The gang didn’t talk much to the people, but the music kept things interesting.

The show was 2 and a half hours long. Definitely one of the longest sets I’ve ever been to. The encore was 45 minutes long and felt like the end of The Return of the King, they would play a hit tune, jam for a few minutes, I’m thinking..they are done. Then Jim James switches guitar and then plays another tune. I’m not complaining..but that was just an observation. I came away from the show extremely satisfied..they played all the songs I liked, there was a light show, they were perfect on stage musically as well. After watching 8 bands that are kinda new to the game for NXNE, you really can see a contrast in professionalism between an established band like MMJ and one that has just started off. Either way, I was tired as hell at the end of the show, and my ears were ringing, but I was also smiling like a kid in a candy store.

1. Evil Urges
2. I’m Amazed
3. Off The Record
4. What A Wonderful Man
5. Gideon
6. Highly Suspicious
7. Thank You Too!
8. Lowdown
9. Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt.1
10. Librarian
11. Sec Walkin
12. Golden
13. Two Halves
14. The Way That He Sings
15. Lay Low
16. Aluminum Park
17. Remnants
18. Smokin From Shootin
19. Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt.2
20. Wordless Chorus
21. Steam Engine
22. One Big Holiday
23. Run Thru
24. Anytime


NXNE: Young and Sexy, June 13, Sneaky Dees

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts, North By Northeast | Leave a comment

Toronto – Paparazzi. Star Wars Kid. These two things dominated the Young and Sexy NXNE showcase on Friday, June 13. Young and Sexy is indie band from Vancouver that features the musical stylings of one Lucy Brain and one Paul Hixon. Theres also a guitarist, drummer and bass. They don’t sound that much like a west coast band, opting for more guitar layering and vocal interplay rather then all out poppy soundss that other bands from the West coast seem to have. They are not really young and sexy either. I would venture to think most of them are approaching 30 or over that mark. Just sayin.

To the asshole photographer at the Young and Sexy show. You are an asshole. I don’t know what made you think you had the right to hop all over the front end of the stage like a jackrabbit on cocaine and holding the camera a few inches from Lucy Brain’s face to get that candid music shot. You should be lucky that the band is so laid back, if that was say, Akon you were photographing, he would have body slammed you into the crowd quicker then you can say flickr.

Star Wars Kid:
So thru out the Y&S set, there was a dude off to the side who was really, really, really into the band. He would do all these dances to the songs that can be best described as a retard having a seizure. It was rather distracting. It’s hard to criticize someone who’s genuinely enthusiastic about the show, but you can tell that the band was a bit distracted as well. Maybe it was a family member or something. I don’t know. I wished I had a video camera, cos that would have been a top video on youtube fo shizzle. All I needed to do was to put a lightsaber graphic on him and he would have made the next Weezer video.

So there you have it, between wanting to kick the photographer and watching the star wars kid doing his interpretive dancing, you can tell why these two mitigating factors single handedly stole all the attention from what was a good, but not spectacular Y&S show. Everyone was distracted by these two things, and it was only when Y&S whipped out the song ‘Television’ that things started to settle down. But by then, it was too late.


Concerts – Toronto Jazz Festival June 19 – 29

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, Toronto Jazz Festival | 2 Comments

The downtown Toronto Jazz Festival is my favourite jazz festival in downtown Toronto. Now, I suppose some of you maybe thinking that sentence is a little self-evident. Why would I say such a thing? Was it to waste your time? Yes. Yes it was. But the reality is that there are a number of jazz festivals in Toronto every summer, and the Toronto Jazz Festival is still my favourite.

The Art of Jazz is a brand-new festival that started in the Distillery District. I caught a Brazilian pianist/guitarist by the name of Egberto Gismonti this year and it was pretty sweet. But as far as festivals go, this one is but a pup, starting life in 2005 as not-for-profit jazz organization. I think more word of mouth is needed so people can be aware of the great work they’re doing. But kudos to the Art of Jazz festival.

Next is the Beaches jazz fest. Sigh. Every year I say I’m not going to go. But every year I get lured by that magical combination of freeness and live music. I’m like a moth to a flame; a jazz-loving cheap moth that can’t say no to some free live music. As great as free is though, the Beaches jazz fest isn’t so much a jazz fest, as a street festival. I give the Beaches 5 out of 5 on the freeness scale, but maybe 3 out of 5 on the music scale.

Apparently beggars can be choosers. Because here I go: I sometimes wonder if the organizers had a conversation like this:

Festival Organizer #1: “Hey, remember how our first Beaches street festival was such a success with that one band we brought in to play on the street?”

Festival Organizer #2: “Sure was!”

F.O. #1: “And, then, then the year after that, we brought in 2 bands and they each had their ends of the street and the festival was like twice as good!?”

F.O. #2: “Absolutely!”

F.O. #1: “Well I have a great idea this year. Are you ready for it?”

F.O. #2: “What?!”

F.O. #1: “This year let’s have 400 bands. By my calculations, we will be 200 times better than our 2nd year, and a full 400 times better than our 1st year!!!”

F.O. #2: “How will we fit that many bands on Queen East?”

F.O. #1: “Simple, we’ll stack the bands directly on top of each other using stackable bandstands. I know a guy who could rent us a lift that would allow us to transport the least popular musicians to the very top stage. They’ll be the hardest for the general public to hear because they’ll be floating approximately 120 meters in the air. I’m a genius!”

F.O. #2: “Hmmm, why don’t we just space out the bands at ground level instead, but only about 15 meters apart. There will be ridiculous noise bleed between bands, but we should be able to fit them all in.”

F.O. #1: My idea is better.

But I digress. The beauty of the downtown Toronto Jazz Festival is that it’s a great festival for music-lovers. Top musicians are brought in from all over the world to shower us with their talent. Let’s look at some highlights:

Al Green – June 19 – Sony Centre
Ah, good ol Reverend Al Green. I just saw a really amazing video of him in 1978 where he sings “Love & Happiness” on Soundstage. It’s fantastic. I really wished I had stopped there, because then I watched a modern video of him prancing about in an all-white suit, looking too full of Love & Happiness. It was a little cheesy. But don’t let me stop you, Al Green is a veritable soul legend.

Maceo Parker – June 20 – Sound Academy
James Brown’s former saxophone player, this man is funk royalty, or funkalty. I’m super excited about this show! Catchphrase: “2% jazz, 98% funky stuff!”

Ahmad Jamal & Oliver Jones Trio – June 23 – Nathan Philips Square
Ahmad Jamal is a fantastic piano player. He’s got roots, but he knows how to contemporarize. ‘Nuff said.

Marcus Miller – June 26 – Opera House
Marcus Miller is one hell of a bassist. He’s played with Miles Davis and other jazz luminaries.

Dave Brubeck – July 2 – Four Seasons
This is a special event happening outside of the standard jazz fest. Dave Brubeck is a jazz legend. It’s certainly nice to see the old jazz guard kicking it old jazz-school.

For a full schedule and tickets, click here.