lee’s palace

Concert Review: The Olivia Tremor Control, September 16, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 2 Comments

Photo from Chromewaves

There are some bands from the mid-90’s that for one reason or another, never really found an audience outside of College Radio. Back in 1997 though, the internet wasn’t quite what it is today. Modems used these things called phone landlines, and you’d reveal all of your age cards if you were to reproduce the dial-up sounds with accuracy.

It went something like this.

It’s hard to imagine now, but I had an increasingly time-consuming internet addiction that had been in its infancy since 1994, to the point where no one could get through to 905-738-9018. I was using things like mIRC at that time in addition to heavily following the Morissey-Solo discussion boards. I actually ended up befriending a few people off those boards, but I liked them most for one purpose and one purpose only: mix-tape trading.

I had a few devoted mix-tape partners over those years. The best was a Professor of Middle English Literature at the University of Edinburgh (he was into Wire, Gang of 4, Pavement, amongst others). Another favorite was a Toronto-based 4AD Collector I’m still friends with to this day. The guy who introduced me to Olivia Tremor Control ended up being one of the best of all–a New York City-based musician who had a short-lived Smiths cover band called The Salford Lads. I didn’t know too much about Olivia Tremor Control beyond songs like Jumping Fences, Hideaway, and I Can Smell the Leaves, but seeing their name on an upcoming concerts schedule again took me back.

Perhaps I wasn’t the best person to consult beyond what expect beyond this handful of songs, because what I saw at the half-full crowd at Lee’s Palace that night was not necessarily what I remembered. That’s not a bad thing in itself–maybe I just wasn’t feeling having to wait in line behind gaggles of girls in stiletto heels and miniskirts (since when did the Dance Cave become a bonafide night club?!?!), or maybe it was standing in the one area someone chose to consistently drop “silent but deadlies” (no wonder no one was standing there), but I just wasn’t feeling the seemingly endless (8 piece?!) band that seemed to fill their set with more “sound” interlude inbetween songs that night.

There has been a weird phenomenon of the last couple of shows in recent memory featuring totally incoherent banter between a singer and the audience. The stream-of-consciousness reached a new high when one of the vocalists was told to “shut-up” and responded with “no, it’s our show”. Thankfully Elephant 6 co-founder Bill Doss would step-in to keep it together, graciously thanking someone named Kalli for baking them some cookies (not sure what was in them but there you go).

Banter aside, this show adds to Allison’s file of “I’m not sure how I feel about reunion shows”. On the one hand, it wasn’t bad to hear those songs–and certainly a group of hardcore fans up front were appreciating every minute of their set. On another, some of these tours add as mildly depressing reminders that a 15+ year timeframe can lapse without anything changing. The same half-full clubs, the same background chatter, the same everything else. This all came to a head when one of the band members ended their encore with a plea for “greens and a place to crash”….

Concert Review: Memoryhouse, Peter, Bjorn, and John, September 2, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 1 Comment


Friday night marked the first labour day in recent memory in which I didn’t feel a dire need to escape Toronto for the long weekend. There’s something about the last real long weekend in our short summer that prompts a mass exodus–but  the groundswell of Peter Bjorn and John’s popularity since their 2006 breakthrough album Writer’s Block made for a packed house in the first of their two-night engagement at Lee’s Palace.

Fellow Swedes Memoryhouse accompanied them for this part of the tour–Subpop records is releasing “The Years” on September 13, and it’s got some great songs, with a lot of the arrangements able to compete with the best nu-gaze. 19-year-old Vocalist / photographer Denise Nouvion and her partner Evan Abalee are both transplanted Swedes who had lived and studied in Guelph, and are now in Toronto. So considering this is their first real forage into live music performance, it’s hard not to want to be easier on Denise’s sometimes inconsistent vocals. Maybe this exposure with PBJ will help develop their banter and compel them to add some back-up vocals to help out their frontwoman. Instrumentally, they are well on their way.


As for Peter (the singer/guitarist), Bjorn (the bassist/vocalist), and John (the drummer), clearly a lot has changed as a result of their frequent touring. Like a lot of the better high-energy shows I’ve seen, this one had an “opening” that the band ran out to. In this case it was the opening to A Space Odyssey.

Of the three of them, Peter in particular has become a seductive showman, able to pull off a full cream suit while jumping off speakers and taking a few songs to the floor. It’s not really fair to think of these guys as the one-hit “Whistling Song” wonders (Peter introduced this as the “X-Files” David Duchovny’s theme song from Californication to our bafflement, then jumped into the audience to the song most people probably came to hear). There were a lot of other better moments from their new album Gimme Some (Second Chance brought down the house). Part of what made Friday such a good show is that the band collected the best singles from each of their albums and incorporated it into their setlist. Their second show from Saturday dug a little deeper into their back catalogue but looks like it struck the same balance. If there was only one approach I’d change it’d be extra-long encore tacked onto the end. I’m not a fan of encores in general (it just always feels like a rouse), but think that if they must exist, they should be short.

For some reason, no one has posted the setlist from the first show in Toronto, but this one from the previous night in Detroit seems comparable.

  1. Tomorrow Has to Wait
  2. Move Me
  3. Eyes
  4. Breaker, Breaker
  5. DALD
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Macabre
  8. Young Folks
  9. Second Chance
  10. Objects of My Affection
  11. Down Like Me


  1. Stay This Way
  2. NTWA
  3. Coffin
  4. Lies
  5. Lay it Down

Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks by Wichita Recordings

Concert Review: Eels, Aug 2, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – The thing about seeing an Eels concert is you’re never quite sure what version of the band you’re going to get.  It could be a string augmented, acoustic-based band or it could be a stripped down rock trio.  It could even feature one member simply standing onstage without an instrument, dancing wildly and shouting non-sequiturs into the mic, as I witnessed at a previous Eels show a few years back.  But on this occasion, Eels took the form of what would probably best be described as their version of a rock n’ soul revue.  The entire band, including a horn section, were clad in suits and sunglasses.  And beards!  Eels are one of the most impressively bearded bands I have ever seen.  They delivered an upbeat, fun set of tunes from throughout their career, many of them rearranged to fit the band’s current live sound.

Frontman E was in pretty good spirits, shouting out things like “Refreshing!” and “That was very positive!” after songs and joking about how he thought he was in New Mexico in February rather than Toronto in the summer before the band launched into a proper summer song, a solid version of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun In The Summertime.”  Another highlight was a punky version of “I Like Birds,” which I didn’t even recognize at first, but it sounded just as good as the original recorded version.  Maybe better.

On a side note, I’d like to point out that before entering, I noticed not one but two huge tour buses parked outside of the venue.  Granted, there are currently seven members of Eels, but it still doesn’t seem like they would require that much space.  I’m not sure why I’m pointing this out, but I thought it was interesting.  Nice to see Eels doing their part to support the tour bus industry. 

Concert Review: Memphis, July 20, Lee’s Palace

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

Toronto – For the record, I have never been the biggest fan of Memphis frontman Torquil Campbell.  While I’ve enjoyed his work with Stars, he’s generally been my least favourite part of that band and I will admit that I have thought him to seem a bit pretentious at times. Unfair?  Perhaps.  So in an effort to put aside any preconceived notions and prejudices, I took it upon myself to check out his other band and see what they were all about.  And I must admit, they put on a pretty damn good show.

Campbell somehow comes across a bit differently when fronting this band than he does in his main gig.  Perhaps it was the more straightforward rock band arrangements, but something was definitely different.  I detected more than a hint of Morrissey in his delivery.  In fact, at times it was almost like watching a Morrisey impersonator.  Campbell came across as a pretty engaging and yes, often likeable performer.  At one point, he dedicated a song to “all the evil f*ckers who run this province and this city” and a later dedication went out to all the people in the back who couldn’t be bothered to turn around and watch the group of “tired, old men” performing onstage.  This guy’s not really afraid to call it like he sees it.  Nor is he afraid to ask for a drink.

At one point during their set, Campbell asked for a gin and tonic.  Within a few minutes, I witnessed three or four seperate people bringing a gin and tonic to the stage.  Man, I wish I was in a successful Canadian indie rock band and didn’t have to pay for my drinks.  I should really get on that.

Memphis – Way Past Caring by Arts & Crafts