Concert Review: Austra, May 27, Echo Beach

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


Last year, the CBC Music Festival really came through with an impressive lineup featuring such names as Alvvays, Tanya Tagaq, and The New Pornographers. By comparison, this year’s lineup left a little something to be desired. Walk Off The Earth? I get that they’re quite popular but that popularity is largely built on gimmicky YouTube videos and live, they’re so relentlessly cheerful that they make Up With People seem like GG Allin. It’s not my cup of tea by a longshot, but hey, give the people what they want I guess. Regardless, there were still some intriguing names on the lineup, and in my books, the highlight of the day was easily Austra’s performance on the Q Stage.

After an introduction by Q host Tom Power, (who seemed strangely preoccupied with a t-shirt cannon) the band started things off with the title track off their excellent new album Future Politics and definitely made a strong impression on both the uninitiated and the hardcore fans up front. New songs like “Utopia” and “I Love You More Than You Love Yourself” blended seamlessly with earlier tracks like “Lose It” and “Beat And The Pulse.” And while the band’s moody electronic sound is probably better suited to a late night performance in some dimly lit nightclub, they still put on quite the show and the songs sounded just as good during daylight hours on an outdoor stage.

Also, I’m not gonna lie – that t-shirt cannon was a little bit cool.

Osheaga 2012 Review/Recap: Florence, Of Monsters and Men, Dum Dum Girls, M83, Austra

Posted on by lauren in Concerts | Leave a comment

Photo By: Jordan DiCecca

Osheaga has easily become the largest music festival in Canada. This year’s fest on Parc Jean-Drapeau in belle Montreal, hosted a three day music festival to over 120,000 people. That’s a huge jump from the 80,000 of 2011. It’s a festival  I have frequented for the past 4 years, and I prefer to the hot and dry backdrop of say, Bonnaroo or Coachella.

So what were the highlights and lowlights of this year’s Osheaga? Well, I’ll begin by saying, I missed Justice and it’s now on a list of small regrets I plan to rectify in the near future.


Photo By: Jordan DiCecca


Of Monsters and Men: Straight out of Iceland, these guys warmed our hearts with their melodic folk-rock. They were the first band we managed to catch of the day in the delicious blistering heat, and it was definitely a great start.

Dum Dum Girls: These girls are fantastic live, all dressed like a sexy Lydia from Beetlejuice. I officially have a girl crush on every single one of them. Even though they suffered through technical problems and their set was cut short, it was still worth every second of that surf punk.

Florence and the Machine: Every time I see Florence Welch make a television appearance, I’m left breathless by the power of her vocals, and the ethereal witch-like presence she evokes, however I have never seen her really do much on stage other than wave her arms around in a flowing gown. This performance was manic, she was all over the place, in the crowd, jumping, yelling, twirling, you name it. She played mostly her new album and a few well known hits from Lungs, and she didn’t miss a beat.


Photo By: Jordan DiCecca


SBTRKT: These guys brought a serious fucking dance party on Saturday afternoon in that almost unbearable heat. Highlights included people climbing the tree to get a better look at the stage, security having to climb said tree to get them down. Sadly Little Dragon, whose set was after SBTRKT didn’t join for Wildfire, but their live rendition of it blew the pants off of the very little amount of people wearing pants.

Yeasayer: Caught half of their set, but they were the highlight of Saturday. Playing old hits and new songs from the upcoming Fragrant World, Saturday was a day of drinking, dancing, and being merry. If you haven’t seen Yeasayer, add them to your list.



Austra: Classically trained Canadian musician Katie Stelmanis has had a myriad of musical projects on the go, but latest band Austra, formerly known as Private Life, until discovering another band under that name, they changed their name to Austra – Katie Stelmanis’ middle name. It was brutally hot after the rain that early afternoon and she brought a pretty big dance party to the table.

Buraka Som Sistema: These guys are out of Portugal but generally create a variation of African beats called “Kuduru”, the final product is a percussion heavy non stop EDM project that you can’t stand still to.

Bloc Party: It was raining heavy during their set, but that didn’t stop the massive crowd from going absolutely nuts. Bloc Party has finally reunited after a long hiatus, and we couldn’t be more excited. They put on a hell of a show despite the shitty weather, and I have never seen that many people crowd surf in the middle of the day since my Warped Tour Highschool days.

M83: THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND. I said earlier in the Osheaga 2012 Preview, that come hell or high water, I would not miss these guys and I sacrificed seeing the Black Angels to squish my way up front, waiting 45 minutes for M83 to begin. The unbelievable light show, coupled with the EPIC performance made them the last set I saw that night, because… nothing could top it.  Just, speechless.

Low-lights of the weekend: 

Missing Justice: My own fault. Forever a regret.

The set up: in 2011 there was 80,000 attendants over the three day fest, this year it jumped up to 120,000 people. This required larger capacity areas for the stages, which is understandable. However, they set up sketchy ass staircases that you had to use to get from stage to stage. Besides the fact that they wobbled when you used them, it bottlenecked the crowd and made travel time between stages twice as long as normal. I managed to only see a quarter of the bands on the schedule because of this, and would have to leave 3 songs into a bands set to make the next band.

The crowd during M83: If anyone was near the front and can attest to this, please do. Seriously, what the fuck was that. I have never seen people my age (26) behave so moronically. There was a group of about eight people that were so high and drunk out of their minds that they decided a mosh pit and crowd surfing were great ideas, however they were so fucked up they couldn’t support anyone surfing over them, or stand their ground so they caused a lot of injury. Also, a guy ended up collapsing unable to stand up and his girlfriend kept jumping on his head behind us…

Security: To continue with the rant above, security was pretty awesome aside from this set. A dude collapsed, couldn’t get up, and about ten people in the crowd tried to get security in to pull the guy out and they wouldn’t do it. He was literally getting trampled on by his own girlfriend.

Lessons learned: If M83 plays next year I will lay on the grass from afar, enjoy the light show and enjoy my beer.


Osheaga 2012 Preview! Part 3 What to see on Sunday!

Posted on by lauren in Concerts | Leave a comment

So Sunday, the last and most exciting day of the festival is also calling for thunderstorms and 20mm of rain. When have mudfights and soggy clothing ever slowed concert goers down before?

Here’s who I will be checking out Sunday, as they are far more important to name than others.

1) Doe Paoro – Playing the earliest slot, this girl’s talent promises that she will be a headliner in no time.

2) Zola Jesus – Not much needs to be said about her, gothy, ethereal, beautiful voice.

3) Aloe Blacc – Rocketed to popularity when his song was used as the title sequence for the now defunct How To Make It In America (RIP)

4) The Airborne Toxic Event- Heard them on a show that will remain nameless (guilty pleasure), interested to see what their live show holds.

5) Tame Impala – I describe them as genre and decade bending psychedelic 60s indie… How could you miss that.

6) Austra – While I despised Katie Stelmanis as an outfit, Austra is smooth danceable electronic, Paper Bag Records newest success.

7) Santigold – Not much needs to be said about her. Always brings it, great stage presence and her song featuring Karen O is one of the best on the new album.

8) The Shins – Stoked to cross these guys off the bucketlist. Mercer’s voice sounds impeccably clear on all live videos I’ve watched.

9) Buraka Som Sistema – My go to exercise album at the gym. African based EDM trumps dubstep any day.

10) Bloc Party – Kele! Yes! Excited to see these guys back together. Sunday promises to be a day of dancing.

11) The Black Angels – Listening to these guys is like traveling back to the 70’s. It’s grungy, dirty psychedelic. I also heard they killed it at Lee’s Palace their last tour.

12) M83 – In torrential downpour, lightning and whatever else that day will throw at us, I will fight tooth and nail to get to the front at their set. M83 created one of the best albums of the year and the best way to describe their sound is “cinematic”, and “epic”.

Notables: Zeus, Common, Black Keys, Dan Mangan, Metric.

Concert Review: Austra, December 1st, Phoenix

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 1 Comment


It’s a helluva thing.

Katie Stelmanis has undergone one of the more radical rebrands in recent memory, changing from friendly looking girl next door Katie Stelmanis

to platinum blond midnight electro goth sexpot Katie Stelmanis

in a matter of a few years. Maybe it was an artist finally becoming comfortable with herself, maybe she accidently stumbled into one of those matrixy night clubs one night

and discovered a new use for her talented vocal pipes. Whatever it is, the change in appearance and music has completely worked out. Katie is now a part of Austra. Behind the always magnificent classically trained voice of Stelmanis and the pulsating dark electro beat provided by the rest of the band, Austra has rode a tidal wave of praise from fans and critic alike to the top of most people’s best-of charts for their debut album Feel it Break.

The momentum that Austra has gained in recent months swelled to a point that their 2011 homecoming Thursday show took place at a packed Phoenix, a far cry from the confines of the Bovine Sex Club, a place where they played a show almost exactly a year before. Having toured extensively throughout the year, the band’s live renditions of their tracks sounded crisp and Stelmanis’s voice sounded as glorious as you would imagine. The track Lose It, for me, remains one of those songs where you really really hope no drunk wannabe singer tries to sing in karaoke. It is completely unique and definitely one of the tracks of the year.

Despite the the solid set by the band, I felt rather disconnected from the show – maybe it was because I was all the way in the back of the venue, or maybe it was because of the fact that the place was rather well lit, I’m not sure. Austra seems like a type of act you see live at 2 am on a Saturday, when you stumble into some hidden alley and enter some pitch black bar that seems to be a borderline opium den. Maybe my imagination got the best of me there. Either way, Austra’s homecoming show and subsequent response was a great conclusion to what was a fantastic year for one of Canada’s brightest up and coming acts.

Austra ‘Lose It’ (Young Galaxy Remix) by Paper Bag Records