mod club

Concert Review: David Bazan and Passenger String Quartet, November 4, Mod Club

Posted on by Wini Lo in Concerts | Leave a comment

David Bazan

David Bazan, best known as the guy behind Seattle, Washington 90’s band Pedro the Lion has been a lyrical hero of mine since I heard his mournful, intricate narratives as a depressive 20-something year old (over 10 years ago!). Specifically, I first heard “June 18, 1976” (a narrative about a young single mother who commits suicide by jumping off a building) on a mixtape an ex-boyfriend made me and the lyrics stopped me in my tracks like no other song has done since.

The first and only time I’ve seen Pedro the Lion was back in 2004 at the Horseshoe. Ten years ago! This show at the Mod Club was something special, something to behold. Bazan was backed by the Passenger String Quartet, with which he has recorded new versions of his solo songs and Pedro the Lion songs and released as a Volume 1 album (meaning there are more to come!).

So, as if the original tunes weren’t depressing enough, these new versions with strings are even more somber and haunting, if that’s possible. Particularly arresting are the string quartet-backed versions of “Priests & Paramedics” and “Bands With Managers” (in which Bazan interjects a line from “June 18, 1976”).

Juxtaposed by the sad mood of the songs, was Bazan’s jovial banter in between. He candidly took questions from the audience, joked around and delivered wry, hilarious anecdotes with a copious usage of expletives. Showing his easygoing nature, Bazan even joked around about the pronunciation of his last name. “’Bay-zin’ or ‘Buh-zahn,’ who cares how you pronounce it. You’re talking to somebody about music – you say ‘Bay-zin’ or ‘Buh-zahn,’ they’ll know what you mean. Bazan? Bummer tunes.”

Concert Review: Foster the People, June 18, Mod Club Theatre

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | Leave a comment

L.A.’s  Foster the People should probably document its incredible timeline for anyone hoping to capitalize on Hype Machine. It seems like only a few short months ago, their breakout single Pumped Up Kicks was making the rounds. I’d be willing to bet that whoever scouted and signed them to Sony Music is rolling in accolades right now. It’s not often that a band enters a major label as indie to enjoy immediate major chart success.

Seeing as the band’s debut Torches has barely been officially out for a month now, Saturday night’s concert at the Mod Club was pretty impressive. They played their first Toronto show at Lee’s Palace in early April only to graduate a mere two and a half months later to the next level. It usually takes bands several tour legs to take that step, so even in today’s breakneck pace of internet-fueled mania, this is very fast progress.

I wonder if openers Gardens & Villa are taking notes.

Unfortunately for them, I find it doubtful that they’ll be skyrocketed to anything other than funemployment in terms of their musical careers. Granted, I only observed around three songs, but throughout them I was whisked to the mall kiosk that features Central Americans in ponchos playing unfortunate new-age flute music. I suppose everyone else was too busy attending Taste of Little Italy or playing NXNE to book anyone more appropriate.

The good news is that Foster the People are charismatic live, and that the album plays better in front of an audience than it does in the studio. That is, with the exception of Pumped Up Kicks (falling rather flat no matter how many bubbles were dropped from the ceiling), which they wisely chose not to close with. There are several enthusiastic drummers who like to perform standing up/slightly hunched over, which only serves to add perceived showmanship. Lead singer Mark Foster is also surprisingly dynamic, which you would not necessarily expect from a former jingle composer.

While the set was quite short, I’m not sure what else we should come to expect from an outfit that has around 10-12 officially released songs. And besides, the frat people needed somewhere to dance in bubbles on a Saturday night.

This is their setlist from the Ohio date last week, which I can only suppose was pretty much what we got on Saturday:

Warrant
Miss You
Houdini
Waste
Call It What You Want
Life On The Nickel
I Would Do Anything For You
Broken Jaw
Pumped Up Kicks
Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)
Helena Beat

Helena Beat by Foster The People

Concert review: Ra Ra Riot [Mod Club; August 30, 2010]

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

Toronto – <begin hating> I will never again bemoan the presence of other Taiwanese people (I am Taiwanese if that’s not already clear) at concerts… for the first and only time I shall expound in order to open the review. We (Taiwanese people) apparently do not have any sense of personal space – easily forgivable when you lived with 24 million copies of your short skinny self on one side of a rock (Taiwan) no bigger than Lake Michigan – but we are here, in TO. Please, people: do NOT collect and arrange your friends in a formation, leaving me with no space to even turn around while your buttocks have clear lines of sight to Mod Club’s balconies. It’s a ridiculous and empty ploy – I won’t move, especially not when I can hear soft whispers questioning which “subspecies” of yellow person I am. Please grow some facial hair and shove me around next time. <end hating>

But what picture does the above passage paint for the “impromptu” Ra Ra Riot show this night?

a) We waited for a bit – set time was said to be 830pm but the first note was played at 9pm, giving my fellows enough time to annoy me.

b) The club filled up slowly, giving lines of sight from butts to AC. But in the end it was a good turn out – definitely at capacity by the second song.

c) All kinds of people came out on this broiling night. When a friend who has been their fan since before she could dance mentioned about Molson Amphitheater, my mind did a double-take. I had no idea Ra Ra Riot was that popular.

Since this particular concert was not well-publicized and yet it filled the theater, you might reason that it consisted entirely of offerings from their new album The Orchard. After all, promotion is the name of the game here. Not so. Although I have yet to sample the new CD, they opened with St. Peter’s Day Festival, and connected through songs like Ghost Under Rocks, Can You Tell, and Dying Is Fine from their first album The Rhumb Line.

Interspersed between those immediately recognizable selections from the old are, I presume, the new songs. I have not seen them since SXSW 2009, but they have definitely grown up. The energy all 6 band members radiated was the most memorable part of their, or perhaps any, show at Austin that year. This time their stage presence, while lacking somewhat the exuberance of yesteryear, is far more polished. The performance still carried with it the feeling of six friends rocking-out in the basement (perhaps they were also tired from the bigger showcase yesterday?), but there was certainly less garage band antics and more purposeful exchanges of looks, smiles, and headbutts. Wes Miles displayed more showmanship than at the Parish – hugging band-mates, cheering them on, and generally interacting playfully to the audience.

I do miss their more expressive and meandering songs like Oh La, but I’m sure that’s merely the nature of this particular show. Their pace is always even with the recordings, and all of the instrument voices sound crisp and clear. I thought Miles’ voice has become brighter since 2009. There are comments from the floor that most people were staring at either the cello or the violin… but that’s a positive note illustrating how their music is conducive to mellow and sanguine thoughts. (Btw, is it me or they have a new drummer?) At the end of each piece, the entire theater would dim to denote the transition – which in a sense addressed my comment last time that theirs songs can feel like one giant stream.

To summarize: Ra Ra Riot is still a riot to watch. And the next time they show up in Toronto (I heard December?) we’ll still be there.

Ra Ra Riot – Boy (RAC Mix) by Remix Artist Collective

Venue Review: The Mod Club

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, Venue | 3 Comments

722 College Street
Toronto ON M6G 1C4
416-588-4MOD
http://www.themodclub.com/

Toronto – Like a fine wine or a hot tub, the Mod Club is something I have enjoyed more and more as I get older. Maybe it’s because of the location (within walking distance) or maybe it’s because of it’s awesome sound system, the Mod Club is definitely one of those venues that could sway whether I see a band or not. So let’s take a look at this venue in the heart of Little Italy.

History

I couldn’t find any history on the Mod Club. As far as I know it’s always been there. I imagine two rich ex-pats sitting around at a pub drinking ale and having this conversation:

“Have you heard? Vespas are making a comeback”
“Really? I heard DVD sales for Quadrophenia are off the charts!”
“Rockstar just came out with a game about London in the 60s”
“Austin Powers made 300 million world wide!”
“Lets start a club and make it mod, and then all those silly wankers who think they are the next Paul Weller can come, and we’ll take their money”
“Yea mate!”

Thus, the Mod Club was born.

Overview

With a capacity around 600, I guess you can consider the Mod Club to be a mid size venue. It has raised platform on the right hand side and a balcony area on the left hand side. The layout is pretty nice and there are at least 4 bars that can service your drinking needs. However, the drink prices here are slightly higher then your usual bar and the selection is not as great. We have only recently discovered that pints of draft are cheaper then beer bottles, so that is a great new discovery. Much like Columbus. They seemed to be cheap on air conditioning for a lot of shows in April/May which resulted in a sauna like atmosphere that I only appreciate when I’m in an actual sauna. Hopefully this will be remedied in the future. The bouncers are generally nice and don’t do a pat down. Two things I hate about the Mod Club: 1) they have bathroom attendants 2) for shows that are on weekends, you can always here the bass from the latino dance club that occupies the basement of the building. I guess that is not their fault, but it is annoying irregardless. The sound system is crisp and clear, and generally, everything sounds great at the Mod Club.

Sightlines

Given that there are three different levels to the Mod Club, the sightlines are decent. The stage is at a decent height so that when you are on the main floor, you can generally see. It is a bit tight for any sold out shows though. If you can get a good view from the balcony or on the raised platform, it’s also very good.

Summary

I like the Mod Club. It’s a good mid level club that offers good sound, an easy walk and generally decent sightlines. Sure it can feel crowded when it’s a sold out show, but so does every other club. Bonus, you can go to College Falafel afterwards and get a Halifax style Donair. The bros in the bathroom have gotta go though, I am not giving you a dollar for handing me a paper towel.

Memorable Shows

Patrick Wolf, NXNE, 2009
The Presets, April 2009
Ian Brown, Feb, 2005