The Miles / Pants & Tie
Pitter Patter Festival. The Boat. Friday, May 29, 2009.
Heading out of the Apostle of Hustle show, J. averred that he was sufficiently rocked for the night and was heading home, but I felt like I had the energy for a little more. Headed west from the Music Gallery towards Kensington, mentally flipping a coin, as I had nothing strongly in mind. Figuring that the gig at The Boat looked as good as anything, headed in there, where — marginally interesting fact alert — I had not previously been.
The venue more-or-less matched the impressions I'd heard from various sources — a long room, stage at one end with a dancefloor, bar at the other with restaurant-y tables. And decorated like, yes, the inside of a boat — possibly during the Carter administration. I have a certain soft spot for venues in their fading Blanche DuBois stage, so the portholes and red lights seemed okay by me. The crowd was a little worrying though — a whole lot younger and more fashionably dressed than me, setting off that tingling sense that I'd stepped into some other gang's clubhouse.
That sense of social displacement was probably as good an entry point as any to Pants and Tie, who were setting up as I arrived and soon launched into their set. A three piece, combining stripped down beats, Chic-esque guit and bass and a singular vocalist, whose twitchy yelps brought to mind nothing more than Bobby McCollough's sax in "Super Bad".1 Très no-wave. The band was obviously exploring the tension between those edge-of-breakdown vocals and the very controlled rhythms. Which is a worthy idea, and there's something there. At some points though, it did miss its mark, leaving the band sounding merely like an over-caffeinated INXS — possibly because a few of the programmed beats were a little too stiff and airless. Still, interesting to see live.
Out of nowhere, the dancefloor was packed with dancing young people. One looked over at me and, pulling out her American Apparel-branded shiv, hissed at me, "are we gonna be cool, Mr. Weatherbee?" and flicked it casually through the air. Nodding, I took a step back.2 The crowd, apparently, were suddenly in attendance to see The Miles, an energetic young three-piece. Rocking with guit, drums and keyb/synth bass, the vox were shared around, mostly between Steven Foster and Jesse Lee Wadon. Hitting the stage with a surf beat and ooky-spooky Munsters-theme organ, the band projected like a boys' varsity B-52's, throwing down an infectiously dancey new wave party. The band and audience were clearly having a blast, and it was hard not to get sucked in and quickly convinced of their merits. Projections are notoriously tricky things, but if there were a Toronto Band Stock Exchange, you might be wise to invest in The Miles now. Not that the band looked hung up on anything more than entertaining their friends — inviting the crowd up to dance on the stage near set's end. Worth seeing again — bring your dancing shoes.
There was one more band on the bill, but I was feeling wiped, so I decided to leave on that high note.
1 Or: imagine Paul Giamatti having a very bad day which ended up with him fronting a stripped down disco band, sputtering about his sexual dysfunctions.
2 Some elements of this paragraph are not, sensu strictissimo, entirely factual.