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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.

CMW Review: Adebisi Shank, March 10, Rancho Relaxo

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

panic manual adebisi shank

Toronto – Despite it being an enjoyable show, I beat a hasty retreat from The Bonfire Ball at Lee’s Palace to check out Adebisi Shank, who initially caught my interest from their name alone.  The Irish Band derives their name from Simon Adebisi, an imposing character from HBO’s awesome prison show Oz and a man who is certainly very handy with a shank.  It is my firm belief that more bands should name themselves after characters from Oz.  A couple that come to mind are Cyril O’Reilly And The Sock Puppets or The Schillinger Escape Plan.  Those are yours for free if you want them , band that currently has no name.  The Panic Manual offers them up as a public service

Factoring in travel time between venues, I only caught a couple songs by them at the end of their set, but what I heard, I liked.  They had a jerky, math rocky sort of sound, maybe a bit like Don Caballero, but more frantic.  Also, their bassist wore a scarf/mask kind of thing to cover his face and head, which is kind of cool.

Adebisi Shank are also playing tonight (March 11) at The Hideout at 12:00.  Be there or be shanked. 

CMW Review: The Bonfire Ball featuring Jason Collett, Zeus and Bahamas, March 10, Lee’s Palace

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

Toronto – So for the longest time I wasn’t even sure I was getting into this show.  For whatever reason, the wait to get into Lee’s Palace was ridiculously long and slow.  The good thing about this was meeting new people and bonding over the general craziness of it all while wondering whether we should cut out and try to get into the Vivian Girls or Fucked Up shows that were alos happening tonight.  But I stuck it out and finally made it to the front of the line.  The wait made the show itself all that much sweeter. 

Once I was inside, the Collett/Bahamas/Zeus supergroup was well into their set.  The venue was packed and performers seemed to be having as much fun onstage as we had watching them.  And the band was fantastic, switching between each other’s songs with ease.  Each individual songwriter had a style that blended well with each other.  This is not surprising, seeing as Zeus is Collett’s backing band, and Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas) used to be a member of the band.   The overall sound was reminiscent of various ’60s and ’70s sounds without really being derivative or unoriginal.   I read elsewhere that they did a Kylie Minogue cover for their encore, but I didn’t see that as I left to check out another show.  Too bad, that would’ve been pretty cool to see.

 I have seen Collett, Bahamas. and Zeus perform seperately in the past and they were undoubtedly good, but somehow tonight, by joining forces, they became even greater than the sum of their parts … like a Canadian indie rock version of Voltron.