lee’s palace

Concert Review: The Hold Steady, Sept 28, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment


Toronto – Sunday night certainly did not have the best start for yours truly. First of all, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to their arch-rivals the Cincinnati Bengals, followed promptly by an email from my friend Ian (big Bengals fan) telling me to “suck it”. Then there was a keeper hockey fantasy league in which I could only participate in like 23/30 rounds due to time constraints. Anyone who knows anything about fantasy sports knows that the last rounds separate the winners and the losers, and not being able to participate in the last few rounds meant I had to leave it to the auto-pick gods. Not a good start.

Of course, the reason why I had to leave the draft early was because I was going to see The Hold Steady, the only Brooklyn band not comprising of skinny hipsters. They were playing the second night of a two night residence at a sold out Lees Palace in support of Stay Positive, their fourth full length album.

I’ll be the first to admit, I have only really skimmed through the Hold Steady discography in my days. I know about songs like Your Little Hoodrat Friend, Stuck in Stations, Sequestered in Memphis and Stay Positive but that’s about it. I know that they are pretty much a band that relied on heavily constructed lyrics layered over classic rock riffs. So I pretty much went in as a casual observer.

Imagine my surprise when the the band arrived at 10:20 and the lead singer looked like a cross between a high school math teacher and an owner of a New York bagel shop. I honestly had no idea what they looked like, but Craig Finn’s appearance was definitely not what I pictured from the band. Maybe I was expecting someone looking more like Springsteen. I’ll honestly say, I have rarely seen any lead show so much enthusiasm toward call and responses then Finn. He genuinely loves it when the crowd screams out lyrics or claps when he wants. It is quite endearing.

The concert was what I expected – classic rock riffs and Finn delivering his lyrics like a mad man. The songs itself sounded pretty good, and I really enjoyed Franz Nicolay on the keyboards. Not being a heavy Hold Steady listener, I really didn’t know what he was talking about since he was delivering at a wicked pace. I guess this is the point where a casual fan would be like ‘meh’ whereas big Hold Steady fans would be in heaven. I think it is this point that separates a Hold Steady concert for the casual fan versus a big fan. You really can’t tell what he is saying, so it’s harder to form some sort of bond with the band.

Anyways, the show was fairly solid – everyone was loving it, and they played the songs that I know. The Hold Steady come off as a really hard working and genuine band, something I can definitely appreciate.

Concert Review: Passion Pit, Lee’s Palace, June 16

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 10 Comments

Toronto – So I didn’t know anything about Passion Pit until about 30 minutes before I went to their show last night but Ricky had an extra ticket and the only things I have to look forward to on most Tuesday nights are Seinfeld reruns.

No surprise then that the only track I recognized from them whilst doing my 15-minute pre-show research was their Sony PSP spot (Sleepy Head). Although I also liked the Reeling, I can see how Michael Angelakos has the sort of vocals you either love to hate or love to love. On the one hand it’s extremely distinctive, maybe even soulful. On the other hand this might be the sort of operatic sound a guy would make while his balls are being put through a woodchipper. Be that as it may, there’s no denying that the white marriage of catchy dancey beats + soul / funk rock is a great genre that is here to stay, and that these guys do very well with. But hey, what do I know. I just listened to the four songs they have on their MySpace page.

Passion Pit by allsongs.

The first thing that struck me when we lined up to get in was the amazing steam their hype machine has picked up. Whoever is representing them is doing an astronomical job because this show is on-par with being one of the most sold-out shows I’ve ever seen at Lee’s with scalpers reportedly selling for $40, $60, and in Chicago, $100. It looked like their openers Harlem Shakes attracted a massive audience as well, and good for them. We were late and missed their performance¬† but from the three tracks I listened to off their page they have the potential to be a rootsier pop version of Ben Folds Five and have garnered pretty good reviews from everyone who caught them last night.

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Concert Review: AC Newman, March 12, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Brian in Concerts | 7 Comments


Walking into Lee’s Palace on Wednesday night, it was all I could do to not walk right back out upon seeing four somewhat geeky-looking dudes on stage with the lead singer playing a ukulele. I find it hard to take ukulele rock seriously. I’m just prejudiced against ukuleles, I guess. It’s a personal failing. I’ll work on it, I promise.

In this case, however, I was able to suppress my natural instincts and managed to sit back, get a beer from the bar, and patiently await AC Newman without charging the stage during Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele’s set (actual band name) and beating the lead singer to death with his own ukulele. My ukulele prejudice may be stronger than I originally thought. May was ok, it was kind of cute when he climbed up on the bass drum and jumped off during his last song, but I wasn’t disappointed that we arrived halfway through his band’s set.

Newman arrived promptly at 10:30. You may know Newman best for his work as one of the voices and the primary songwriter for The New Pornographers, Canada’s favourite 8-piece musical outfit (or second favourite, depending on how many people are actually in Broken Social Scene at any given moment). Newman has also just put out his second solo album, Get Guilty, the follow-up to 2004’s The Slow Wonder. His solo band is also almost as big as his other band; Newman’s set last night featured seven musicians on stage, occasionally with as many as five singing at once.

Clearly, Newman is a songwriter who likes the harmonies and instruments you get with a larger group. His show featured a violin player/backup singer, a keyboardist/trumpeter, and a backup singer/tambourine player, alongside the more traditional two guitars, drums, and bass.

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