cmw

CMW Review: Jeff Martin, Mar 13, Mod Club

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 3 Comments

Toronto – Former Tea Party front man Jeff Martin played the Mod Club last Saturday. It was an exciting set of music both new and old that had me cursing the super quick 30 minute sets at the Mod Club that night. It’s not entirely fair that I’m writing this review because I was such a huge Tea Party fan as a teenager. I’ve long since internalized their first two albums Splendor Solis, and The Edges of Twilight.

I was skeptical as to what exactly to expect from Jeff after so many years. Thankfully he still plays to his strengths: eastern-influenced rock played with open-tunings that resonate with a gutsy metallic heft. I can’t believe I just used the term “gutsy metallic heft”; I’m such a douchebag. Anyway, he opened with The Bazaar, and kept the crowd happy by later playing the crowd favourite Sister Awake. He also kept things fresh by playing some of his newer non-Tea Party material that fit well within the set.

He peppered Tea Party lyrics into his other songs as if he spontaneously felt like it.

What I forgot about Jeff Martin is how consummate a musician he his. He can seriously play the guitar, and he can seriously sing. I don’t know how much of his set was rehearsed, but it certainly felt like an off-the-cuff set from a musician extremely comfortable in his own skin. He peppered Tea Party lyrics into his other songs as if he spontaneously felt like it.

His last song was a particularly impressive blues number that borrowed lyrics from old blues greats. As exotic as his tastes are, Jeff reminded us that he’s still got roots in the blues and can fuse that with his other influences into a style all his own. Although we may tend to typecast him in a particular era and style; he’s definitely his own musician and worth approaching on his own merits.

CMW highlight.

CMW Review: Joel Plaskett, Mar 13, Mod Club

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | Leave a comment

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.

CMW Review: Handsome Furs, Mar 12, El Mocambo

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 4 Comments

Handsome_Furs_El_Mocambo_March_12_2010

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.

CMW Review: Plants & Animals, Mar 12, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 2 Comments

Panic Manual (Plants & Animals Lee's Palace March 12 2010)

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.