Toronto – Ah Joel Plaskett. We here at the Panic Manual have a soft spot in our heart for Mr. Plaskett. So far we’ve covered three of his live shows (here, here, and here). I suppose that makes this number four. He played last Saturday night at the Mod Club, accompanied by fellow singer/songwriter Peter Elkas. It was rainy, it was windy, and yet still people lined up for the opportunity to hear just a tiny abbreviated set of Joel’s music. Now that’s dedication.
“Is there a reason you loves this town?” – crowd member
“There are many reasons I love this town. Damn.” – Joel Plaskett
What else can I say about this genuine east coast rocker? I suppose what’s just as impressive as Joel’s guitar and vocal skills is what he does to a crowd. His mix of talent, humble east-coast upbringing and down-to-earth attitude makes him an endearing personality and a crowd favourite. There’s just something about him that prods us fast-paced downtown urbanites to smile and let our shields down; for a second we resolve to be more civil to our fellow strangers in this wild concrete rat race. Granted, it’s a passing resolution at best. But thankfully Joel comes to town frequently enough to keep prodding us in the right direction.
Joel won the Indie music award for best solo artist of the year later that night at the Royal York hotel. It’s a well deserved award for standup Canadian artist.
Toronto – As we’ve mentioned before, at music festivals like CMW, it’s likely that you’ll only catch parts of certain sets. Especially if you are busy hopping from venue to venue. For the first time in 28 years, CMW was completely sold out this year. As the festival has grown, the fans have become more plentiful. Sold out shows have made venue-hopping increasingly difficult. Throughout the week I’ve ran into a number of frustrated fans who were unable to see the bands they wanted because of lineups and capacity crowds. Unfortunately it seems like CMW has become a victim of its own success, despite the cold and wet weather thrown our way.
But CMW is about discovering and enjoying Canadian talent, so let’s get to the music. It’s not entirely fair that I cover the Handsome Furs show last Friday at the El Mocambo because I only caught the last 20 minutes of it. Not surprisingly, it was a much hyped and very sold out show. However, it was such an amazing experience that it deserves mention. Montreal-based Handsome Furs consists of guitarist singer Dan Coeckner (from Wolf Parade) and his wife Alexei Perry. They play a supremely charged and intense electro indie rock that is insanely infectious.
Since it was the last night of the show, they got the opportunity to perform a festival rarity by playing an encore. It was the most intensely charged 20 minutes of music I heard at CMW this year; I will be jumping at the opportunity to see them live again.
Toronto – Montreal-based Plants & Animals played an energetic show at Lee’s Palace last Friday to a packed audience. In 2008, they released Parc Avenue, a lush sounding album with plenty of orchestral padding. Their upcoming album La La Land is scheduled to release in April. The show consisted of a mix of both new and old material; giving their fans a taste of what’s to come, and also spinning out sing-along friendly hits like Faerie Dance and Bye Bye Bye.
What’s so interesting about seeing Plants & Animals live is just how different it is from the album experience. Until seeing them live, I wasn’t aware that the band consisted of a mere three members. When you listen to Parc Avenue, you hear backup vocals, strings, and brass. It’s easy to assume that you’re dealing with a huge Arcade Fire sized outfit. But Plants & Animals is a brainchild that resides in the minds of two east-coasters and a French Canadian.
With just the three of them, the live show certainly doesn’t have that lush sound heard in the album. However, what they lack in padding they more than make up for in energy. These three musicians definitely have a special live synergy. The entire band was dripping with sweat within 20 minutes of their relatively short CMW set. One concert first for me was seeing lead singer Warren Spicer replace a broken string on his guitar in between songs. I guess he really liked playing that particular guitar.
I waited in line for the better part of an hour and made it into Lee’s with mere minutes to spare before Plants & Animals played their first chord. It was well worth the wait and this show is on my highlight reel for CMW this year. I’d be curious to see what they would sound like if you were to combine their raw live energy with their entourage of beautiful backing vocals and brass.
There are only a few weeks in the year where I willingly forego sleep and Canadian Music Week is one of them. Being an extreme workaholic, my body has been fine tuned to run for days on short naps and liquid black gold. Perfect prep as I spend the week traversing the city until the wee hours of the morning, savouring the music of emerging Canadian bands.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Jason Collett so I’m looking forward to hearing songs from his new release Rat a Tat Tat, and hopefully songs from previous albums. I’ve heard that he doesn’t play songs from earlier releases, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Also excited about hearing Toronto based, Zeus, featured in this past week’s issue of NOW
Thank goodness The El Mo and Silver Dollar are within yards of each other—it gives me a chance to run from one venue to the other. First to catch We Are The City and soak in their melodic, wistful songs and then make it in time for the guitar, drum and synth infused music of Still Life Still. Night capped off with The Ghost is Dancing and their indie pop rock.
You better be ready to dance to Montreal’s Plants and Animals, and Think About Life. Or Else. Sure bet that every last ounce of energy will be squeezed out on the dance floor. Both bands hit SXSW before embarking on their North American tours.
I’m embarrassed to say the number of times I’ve see Joel Plaskett perform. So I won’t tell you. But what I will tell you is that I once met him, regrettably gushed over him (shut up, I was young!!), and in the end told him he had jerk spice stuck in his teeth. He is a perennial favourite of mine, and you should definitely check him out. I hope it’s an acoustic set.
After his set I plan to jet over to the Indie Awards and check out the stellar line up scheduled this year. Key acts include: Plants and Animals, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Great Lake Swimmers, and the Constantines.
Sunday, March 14
If I’m still alive by Sunday, I plan on checking out Parlovr, Young Rival and Toronto based, Born Ruffians at the Phoenix!