horseshoe tavern

Concert Review: Revolver, Chateau Marmont, October 16, The Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

Toronto – As I walked into The Horseshoe shortly before Chateau Marmontstarted their set, I couldn’t help but notice the sparse turnout.  Not that I expected anything different – two French bands who are not exactly household names playing on a Sunday night while at the same time, Dum Dum Girls were playing Lee’s Palace, Trentemoller were playing The Phoenix, and of course, for those who’d rather watch TV, the second season premiere of The Walking Dead was on as well.  But as they say, the show must go on, and go on it did.

Chateau Marmont started things off, playing to a small crowd of probably 20 people but sounding great.  Singer/keyboardist Guillaume De Maria introduced one song by describing it as “Very erotic … like floating in the air naked.”  That’s as apt a description as I can think of.  Overall, they’ve got an interesting sound, a mix of electronic instrumentals and nice poppy tunes.  And when I say electronic, I mean it often veers a lot closer to stuff like Tangerine Dream than any more modern electro sounds.  that is, spacey, trippy and sounding kind of like the soundtrack of some early ’80s movie.  There’s also a hint of their countrymen Air in their sound.  Pretty impressive stuff.  Hopefully next time they come through town they play to a larger crowd.

Chateau Marmont – Beagle by SWAG Blog

As headliners Revolvercame to the stage, they fared a bit better (there were probably 30 or so in the crowd at this point) and did a good job of persuading the audience to come closer.  They had a good sound, somewhat reminiscent of ’60s pop/rock (it’s likely no coincidence that they’re names after a Beatles album).  They showed off some good Crosby, Stills and Nash style harmonies throughout their set and even ended off with an unplugged encore of CSN’s “Helplessly Hoping” in front of the stage that was probably the highlight of their set.  They also threw in a peppy cover of M. Ward’s “Chinese Translation” during their main set.  Probably the most interesting moment came during their song “Get Around Town,” which to me sounded a bit like a hybrid of The Beta Band and Stray Cats.  Towards the end of that song, they decided it was time to invite local rapper More Or Les (although when the band introduced him, it sounded like MC Morales or MC Moralist with that French accent) onstage to freestyle  with them for a few minutes.  The band clearly seemed to be enjoying that moment, with singer Ambroise Willaume even musing at one point that they were thinking of changing their musical direction.  While I enjoyed Chateau Marmont  a bit more, both bands offered up solid sets that made it worth going out on a Sunday night.

Concert Review: Tahiti 80, September 22, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | Leave a comment

tahiti 80 concert poster

Xavier Boyer, Médéric Gontier, Sylvain Marchand, Pedro Resende, Raphaël Léger & Julien Barbagallo are otherwise known as tahiti 80, one of the most seductive live acts I’ve had the pleasure to see this year. They also have a following that I would describe as “intimate and loyal”, possibly the most attractive fanbase an independent artist can ever achieve.

Around since the late 90’s, tahiti 80 is one of those band names you often hear, but may confuse with numerous others. I myself thought that I might be going to see Air Cuba that night, but then I’m famously known for mixing-up band names. Perhaps it’s better I had no significant prior knowledge about tahiti 80 walking into Thursday’s show, because what I found was that rare instance of a group that embraces the live experience.

Their studio recordings sound comparatively sterile–this was probably the most active dance floor I’ve ever seen at the Horseshoe, and although I was content to watch from the sidelines under the air conditioning vent sitting down, I certainly appreciated the enthusiasm that their hardcore fans brought to the set. I’ve always wondered if the grind of being a professional musician ever wears them down to a nub once they realize the same crowd sizes are cropping up in the depths of their career as there were towards the beginning, but I think in this case the crowd’s obvious brimming cup of love for everything tahiti 80 more than makes up for that. I’ve been to stadium-size shows that had none of the heart that this performance did, so size doesn’t always matter.

There are several reasons this was such a great show that you don’t see with every band.

I wish I had a copy of the setlist, because you can tell these guys are incredibly seasoned performers based on the even mix of new and old. The only thing I might have changed was the incredibly energetic choices up until the first songs of the encore that seemed to cause a jarring effect when the encore started off so slowly.

This is a copy of their revised setlist after their Thursday show (written on a styrofoam plate, no less)

New tahiti 80 setlist

  • I.S.A.A.C.
  • Gate 33 (based on Xavier Boyer’s colourful encounter with a “crazy lady” at an airport
  • Better Days Will Come
  • Easy
  • Anton(?)
  • Big Day
  • 1,000 Times
  • Defender
  • Darlin’
  • Heartbeat
  • Crack-up

This was probably the first instance in which the band was happy to take requests from the audience as well.

Boyer is really the ultimate European front man, willing to take pains to tell stories and introduce each member of his band with lurid explanations of who they are. You can pretty much tell he’s the nicest guy in the world.

One of the things that has always struck me about the better performances I’ve seen over the past year is that you can genuinely sense who is living to create and perform music and who is punching in the time card as another day at the office. These guys are living to create and perform, and they love doing so, grinning and rocking out at every beat. I can only hope that they are making a decent living doing this. Live, they are probably 10x more charming than their other fellow countrymen that have hit it big in North America (Phoenix, Air).

4 out of 5

4 out of 5

Tahiti 80 – Darlin’ (Adam & Eve Song) by La Chunga Publishing

Concert Review: Male Bonding, Sept. 2, Horseshoe Tavern

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

Toronto – As I walked into The Horseshoe Tavern for Male Bonding’s Friday night show, I immediately noticed that Dinosaur Jr. was playing over the PA.  This was notable for a couple of reasons – for one thing, Dinosaur Jr. is a great band.  But it was also notable because the London band’s latest album Endless Now was recorded in the same studio and with the same producer as Dino Jr’s Where You Been.  This probably isn’t just a coincidence as Male Bonding’s noisy punk stylings sound like they could have come from some time in the early to mid ’90s.

Also drawing on the musical past were openers Love Inks in the form of a cover of David Essex’s “Rock On.”  I’ll admit that they didn’t quite capture my attention during their brief set, but what I did hear sounded alright.  The headliners sounded quite good as well, but there was a bit of a sameyness to their performance.  Sure, fast paced, grungy, poppy punk songs sound good, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more variation in tone or tempo.  Still, I knew what to expect going in and I got exactly what I expected from the band.  The band showcased songs from their latest album as well as their debut and also showed off a bit of a self-deprecating sense of humour.  “This place is legendary, in case you didn’t know,” said bassist Kevin Hendrick before mentioning a few of the legendary bands that had played there.  “Rolling Stones?  Talking Heads?  Strokes?  Then we came and f*cked it all up.”   The band also claimed that they were “offically not punk anymore” when they came back for an encore.  It’s true, encores may not be very punk, but sometimes you’ve gotta give the people what they want.

Male Bonding – Tame The Sun by subpop

TO Jazz Preview: Interview with Eric Krasno of Soulive

Posted on by Mark in Concerts, interviews, Toronto Jazz Festival | Leave a comment

Toronto – Today marks the start of the Toronto Jazz Festival. For the next ten days, the city will be teeming with fantastic musicians playing venues large and small. You can check out some of the highlights of the line-up here.

In anticipation of the festival, I had a chance to chat with the guitarist of soul/jazz/funk outfit Soulive, Eric Krasno. We talked about their latest album, Rubber Soulive, and also dove into how new technologies like do-it-yourself studios, grassroots record labels, and the internets are changing the the face of music.

Mark: Soulive has been doing jazz, soul and funk for over a decade. This latest album, Rubber Soulive, is a funkified Beatles tribute.

Eric: It’s kind of a take on the Rubber Soul album that they did. In London [white guys playing soul music was called rubber soul]. We ended up calling it Rubber Soulive based on the Beatles album, but ended up taking other Beatles tunes as well.

MJ: What was the motivation behind this album?

EK: We had talked about doing a covers album. At first we were talking about doing a British Invasion thing, where it was different British groups, this was right around when they did the re-master of the Beatles stuff. Originally it was going to be an EP. The first session we just sat and listened to a bunch of tunes and talked about which ones would translate best into our instrumentation and our style, and then we just recorded them live in the studio pretty quickly and organically.

MJ: Over the last decade, you’ve worked with a number of different record labels. You were involved in Velour, a couple of years with Blue Note, and a brief stint with Stax. Now you’ve gone your own route with Royal Family. I’m curious about how the record label has influenced your sound and how you make music over the years.

EK: We’ve been pretty fortunate that labels didn’t really tell us what to do. The difference really is when you have a big budget. As we decided to do it on our own, we had to be a little bit more aware of what we’re spending. We have our own studios now, so we’re able to record a lot easier, but we’ve been fortunate in that we could pretty much record and hand in what we wanted to put out and they’d put it out. It’s a lot different if you’re a pop singer on a major label where you don’t have a lot of influence over what you do.

MJ: So what was the prime motivation then to break out with the Royal Family?

EK: We had [wanted to enter into a subsidiary deal with labels, but it didn’t pan out so we started our own]. Now we’re doing all of our other projects as well. We can put out live recordings every night. We actually offer our recording of our shows live at the show that night, so you can leave with a copy of the show that was just played.

Things like that we weren’t allowed to do on major labels: being able to put out as much music as we want, and put stuff out for free on the internet. For the number of albums we were selling, it made more sense to do it ourselves.

MJ: Things are moving very quickly in the music industry with technology and the movement online. It sounds like with the Royal Family you’ve got a little more freedom to embrace the change.

EK: Absolutely, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.

MJ: How has the Soulive sound changed over the last decade?

EK: It has evolved in that we’ve got better as a group, as far as communicating and improvising, and [we’ve also] allowed other influences to seep in. It started out just organ, guitar, and drums, and now … our palette has expanded.

MJ: From a guitar point of view, what are some of your influences? I don’t want to load this question, but there are certainly some people that pop in my mind when I listen to you.

EK: I was a huge Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page fan; a big rock & roll fan as a kid. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a good one, and then later on I found Grant Green and Wes Montgomery. It’s a combination of all those things really.

MJ: I’m glad you said Grant Green, because that’s definitely what I had in my mind when I was listening to Rubber.

You seem to be doing a lot of studio work and live touring. Do you like the mix?

EK: I kind of need the mix. I’ve also produced a lot of records over the last ten years; everything from hip-hop, to pop, to African music. It’s nice because I can try all sorts of different things when I’m in the studio. But then after a while, I like to get out and play, and then when I’m out on the road, I get sick of the road too, so I definitely dig the balance.

MJ: So if you were heading to a deserted island and you had to pick one Beatles album, which one would you have to take?

EK: For me it’s Abbey Road, I have to say.

MJ: Nice.

Soulive plays this Monday (June 27th) at the Horseshoe Tavern at 9:30 and 11:30.

Soulive – Drive My Car – Rubber Soulive by royalfamily