Concert review: Miike Snow, April 3, Phoenix theater

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

Toronto – I’ve always thought that anything with an antler looks slightly more angry than necessary. You’ll never see a doe on shields or emblems. And you’ll always assume that a stag party has nothing to do with a silent night even if reindeers might run through it carrying a fat man in red-white-trim to said party. So when I saw that rabbit with it antler hanging on the back wall of Phoenix, I assumed that Miike Snow’s show will be like a synthesizer-Rob-Zombie. From what songs I heard prior, I expected them to have a fairly self-involved air. We ran late and missed Delorean, the opener in the early evening, so there was no lead up or contrast. As we stood in the Phoenix theater, it was increasingly clear we were waiting for some snow – it must have been 30C in there. By the time the smoke was puffed out for the laser effects, I was sweating and not about to jump around despite the nature of the music.

Miike Snow came out, not just 3 but 5, each of them sporting a whole piece phantom mask, opening the set with Cult Logic. So I was dead-on, I thought: I feel like I’m listening to horror film villain electropop. The mask came off some time around the 4th song. Andrew Wyatt’s performance reminded me more of Matt Pond… composed but shy and aloof. Their less electronic songs, like Black and Blue and Faker, saw Wyatt singing quite intently – I think he might be more comfortable with the mask on. The electronic duo, though, did not have that problem – they were jumping from beginning to end. So no, I felt that they don’t really take themselves as seriously as the masks suggest, which was comforting in a sense – your ticket money (or a large % of it) wasn’t spent on the stroking of egos. Live version of Silvia had a 2 min long synth extension, a very nice touch that got a lot of crowd appreciation. Long stretches of it didn’t work quite as well though, between other songs. Some times it gets in the way of the vocal and I did have some complaints against. At least there were songs like Burial, which one can just shout out loud. I don’t recall hearing A horse is not a home, which was a bit of a bummer. Together with the smoke effects, the lighting was a new side of the Phoenix theater that I have not seen before – it’s always been “hanging at the bar to the left-hind side because the balcony is too busy”. This time it was “trippy psychedelic blinding laser in my eyeball”. One guess which song they finished the set with? That answer was so clear that by the time first 4 beats were struck the whole room was moving up and down… I seem to remember someone crowd surfing. Yet given Animal’s catchy rhythm I was really disappointed that Toronto did not match the Swedish trio’s enthusiasm. Maybe it’s because they cordoned off the drinking/19-under areas into two. And also I think because it was 9pm at this point, and most were waiting for Phoenix’s 10pm Saturday night party before getting sufficiently drunk. Either way, I’m just happy that they didn’t wear their mascot rabbit, or a taxidermy of one – that would have been one angry-looking rodent. Overall, it was an impressive show with the right type of lightning/ambiance. Sorry, though, that it took me weeks to come up with this review…

Concert Review: Rodrigo y Gabriela, Mar 5 Phoenix

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 3 Comments

Toronto – Flamenco rockers Rodrigo Y Gabriela made their Canadian debut at the Phoenix last Friday and delivered an exhilarating performance that left the crowd positively energized. The fans who were familiar with their work got exactly what they were looking for, and the newbies were about to learn how just how frenzied a show can be with only two acoustic nylon-string guitars. This is the type of show that you want to bring all of your friends to, because you know just how infectious the energy will be. Rod & Gab did not disappoint.

Man, this is nothing like a Pantera show. I haven’t even been head-butted [awestruck metal-head concert goer as the crowd politely moved aside to allow him to pass by]

As mentioned in our preview, Rodrigo & Gabriela are Mexican born guitarists that moved to Ireland to make it in the music business. They blend rock and flamenco into a style that’s pure octane. The crowd was an eclectic bunch: guitarists, hardcore metal-heads, latin-lovers, and their friends. Rod & Gab played a lot of material from their latest release 11:11, but finished off the show with hits like Tamacun and Viking Man from their original self-titled release.

It was a treat to see Gabriela open up a bit by telling us some stories of when they first moved to Ireland. Both guitarists swear like sailors with an endearing Irish-Mexican accent. She went onto explain that that’s just how they learned to speak English when they arrived in Ireland. The duo compliment each other extremely well; but Gabriela’s performance in particular caused the crowd’s collective jaw to drop. Her blazing right-hand combined with her impeccable sense of rhythm and sheer energy is a sight to see. There were times when she buried her head in the neck of her guitar and you just can’t help but get drawn in.

I was waiting for this show since the moment it was announced; it was exactly what I hoped it would be. I look forward to the next time Rodrigo Y Gabriela make it to Toronto. Anyone who attended is going to want to see them again, and bring their friends. It’s a musical experience that you simply feel compelled to share; and that’s the highest kind of praise.

Concert Preview: Rodrigo y Gabriela, Mar 5, Phoenix

Posted on by Mark in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – Flamenco rock guitar virtuoso’s Rodrigo Y Gabriela will be playing the Phoenix this Friday March 5th. It’s been a while since I’ve been this psyched about a live show. The day these tickets went on sale, I high-tailed it over to Rotate This and bought 10 tickets so I could take myself and 9 friends. That’s how much I like this band.

Rodrigo and Gabriela are two Mexican born guitarists that moved to Ireland to make it as musicians. They grew up on a steady diet of rock, but blend this with impeccable flamenco technique. Rodrigo takes care of the fiery lead guitar, while Gabriela’s ridiculously fast right-hand keeps the rhythm bounding along with ever-increasing energy. They released a live CD called “Live in Japan” which includes a DVD of their live performance. If seeing them this Friday is even half as exciting as what you see on the DVD, this will be one incendiary show.

They’re touring their latest release, 11:11, where every song on the album is a tribute to an influential guitarist. The eclectic tribute list includes jazz great Al Di Meola, flamenco legend Paco de Lucia, and Pantera’s metal rocker Dimebag Darrell. Rod & Gab draw on any number of influences to bring flamenco guitar into the 21st century. However you can especially hear their rock influence in their music as they play a Metallica tune note for note, but flamenco style. Their rendition of Stairway to Heaven is a highlight at live shows.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela are on a tour that includes North America in March, Europe in April, and the UK in November. They play the Phoenix this Friday.

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