Here are the shows I found memorable for one reason or another this year.
Cut Copy, Danforth Music Hall
A raging good show that puts an exclamation mark on just how good Cut Copy’s live show is. From synth pop classics such as Heart on Fire to the completely epic sing along that was Need You Now, Cut Copy had the excitable, dancing crowd in the palm of their hands. Toronto has a reputation of a boring crowd. Anyone who was at the Danforth Music Hall on a chilly night in November would suggest otherwise.
Haim, Cedar Courtyard, Filter Party, SXSW
Filter’s annual SXSW party at the Cedar Courtyard is one of those benchmark parties in Austin where at least one or two of the acts that play there become big. This year was no exception. Haim played a pretty nutty set at the party that really proved to people they were more then just a very slick pop music machine. There were plenty of guitar solos, crazy rock faces and just a nice feeling of rawness to the set and it definitely had people talking. According to Paul, Pharrell, who was watching the show from the vip/media area, busted into the bar afterwards and said something like “what the fuck was that!?!” with some manic enthusiasm. All in all, a definite memorable show.
Bjork, Echo Beach
The most visually insane show of the year, it’s hard to categorize Bjork with any other artist. Who else brings a tesla coil on stage?
Awful show. Started late (a big no no at SXSW), confronted the crowd, sounded awful and seemed like he was just taking a piss at the whole thing. I really liked Foxygen’s album before their piss poor showing in Austin. I haven’t listened to it since.
TURF was basically how I envisioned all mid-level indie rock music festivals should be operated on. It had a heart, a vision and was operated by industry veterans who put on shows in Toronto all the time. It had a well curated set list and had a nice crowd size to personal space ratio. The absolutely highlight for me was seeing Belle and Sebastian again. Even though this is the third time I’ve seen them in two years, and I had already seen some of the tricks that Stuart Murdoch does during a show, it was still fascinating to see how the crowd reacts to them. The band didn’t close the set with Sleep the Clock Around, but it was still a great way to close off the fest that featured among other things, She & Him vs photographers, crazy weather and the poor beer people having to tell everyone that they ran out of Creemore.. at 2pm.
Tegan and Sara, Austin Music Hall, SXSW
“oooo they are so fun! and cute! and so charming!”. These were the imaginary words I had vision people saying about this duo when I decided to make a really late night jaunt to the Austin Music Hall to catch their set. All those things are completely true and it was a joy to watch the super slick pop production that was Heartthrob manifest itself live.
Pet Shop Boys, Sony Centre
LASSSSSSSSEEEEEEEEERS. EIGHTIES MUSICCCCCCCCCC. GO WEESSSSSSSSSST. Pet Shop Boys are forever awesome, and their show in September merely enforces this fact. There wasn’t a sitting person in the crowd (despite a seated venue) from the moment the duo took the stage. The set closer (pre-encore) of Always On My Mind had one of the best singalongs I have seen.
Bob Dylan, Molson Amphitheatre
Despite warnings, I went. So I guess it was all on me. He’s probably best remembered from albums then his live show.
Sigur Ros, Laneway Music Festival
Under a gorgeous pavilion, on a magically warm night at what was an amazing music festival, Sigur Ros delivered a stunning set that was somehow just perfect for it’s surroundings. I had essentially seen the same show in March at the ACC, but that was in a cavernous soulless arena. Somehow, at an outdoor pavillion, surrounded by peaceful music lovers and located in suburban Detroit, Jonsi’s out of this world voice and the rest of the bands theatrics (and light show) seemed to be the perfect compliment.
Only at SXSW will you get a chance to see one of the biggest all girl K-Pop bands in Korea in a dive bikers bar. Totally different, totally awesome.
Til next year!