Songs: Something Dark Against Something Light + Victory
Recorded at Lee's Palace, April 4, 2011.
My notes for this set can be found here.
Songs: Something Dark Against Something Light + Victory
Recorded at Lee's Palace, April 4, 2011.
My notes for this set can be found here.
Lee's Palace. Monday, April 4, 2011.
Out for a dreaded Monday night gig amongst the Crusty Punx and other relics who looked like they weren't going gently into the weeknight. Those in attendance included Loud Arguing Dudes and Guy Who Repeatedly Shouts Outs People's Names From Across the Room ("Bill! Bill!") — screw this text messaging. Amongst a menagerie with a lot of folks who gave the impression that the used to go to a lot of shows, man, there'd be some grumpy faces in the office tomorrow morning. They were also people who didn't give a fig about t-shirt protocol — there was a large contingent out in their iconic Nomeansno WRONG t-shirts.
So, a decent showing for openers METZ, even if the crowd gave the impression were going to take a wait-and-see stance toward the local trio. With the big headliner drumkit set up near the front of stage left, Hayden Menzies' kit looked pretty puny by comparison, but it still generated plenty noise. And per the band's custom, the only source of light was from the illuminated kickdrum — which, on Lee's high stage, put it blindingly at eye level.
Even with that giant drumkit taking up real estate, this was the largest stage I've ever seen the band play on, and guitarist Alex Edkins had some extra room to wheel about as he powered the band's abrasive noise-lurches. With a hint of scabrous Jesus Lizard-y yelp-squelch, by "Dry Up", it was pretty clear the band was winning over some of the Crusty Punx. Maybe it's just having a slightly bigger space to fill than I've seen 'em in before, but they were a bit less overwhelmingly loud — not that they were delicate or anything, but there was some overhead for the dynamics and this might have been the best I'd ever heard 'em sound.
Playing their usual mix of tracks from their singles ("Dry Up", "Negative Space") plus newer ones presumably bound for their still-forthcoming album, they played seven efficient songs, moving quickly along, and sounding almost eager to get off the stage so they could hear the headliners.1
Listen to a song from this set here.
The last time I saw Nomeansno I went into it with no small amount of trepidation, fearful that time might have robbed some of the vitality from what had been one of my favourite bands back in the mid-90's. But that show's velocity careened right past nostalgia in a hurry, and this time I was more enthusiastic going in. Certainly for the bulk of the crowd — including a panorama of about three generations of leather jacket-wearing punks — none of this was an issue. My only worry was in wondering how far back from the stage I'd have to be to avoid getting jostled by bodies bouncing from the pit.
Making a stopover in T.O. before flying over for some European dates, the trio were in gregarious and feisty form. "We're from Vancouver, Canada's premier hockey town," said bassist/vocalist Rob Wright, gleefully taunting the crowd to some equally amiable boos.
With a fairly immense catalogue spanning three decades to draw from, there's a lot of stuff for the band to dip into and I was pleased with the selection of "Angel or Devil" (from 1995's fab The Worldhood of the World (As Such)) to start things off. Right from the start, all of the hallmarks were there — Rob's powerful, driving bass, as much of a "lead" instrument as Tom Holliston's guitar, both of whom were pushed along by John Wright's thunderous, stop-on-a-dime drums. Without pause came the funky post-punk guitar line animating "I Can't Stop Talking" (from the less-beloved Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie) making the song sound incredibly more vital than I recall.
I was also glad that there was some new material in the mix. A pair of recently-released EP's provided several songs to the setlist, including the ace new "Jubilation", which, like so much of the band's material, makes a joyful song from the darkest of outlooks ("nothing left to hold on to in this wicked word / that's jubilation"). "Slave" and "One and the Same" were less endearing, but I'm still super-glad to see the band not just meekly accepting the easy ride down the nostalgia act route. And with a whiplash-inducing motion, they followed those newest songs with one of their oldest, reaching back to Mama, the band's 1982 debut full-length for "No Sex".
Call 'em codgers, but they're still pretty physical on stage — Rob managed to unplug his bass while Holliston sang "The Hawk Killed the Punk". And that led into a particularly driving and frothy version of "Teresa, Give Me That Knife". Watching them pump out song after song, it was admirable to see how damn vital the band remains, still nimbly navigating tempo changes and other rhythmic detours. And still treating the songs as if they were raw emotions ripped from the flesh, like when Holliston put down his guitar to grip the mic stand and lean into his vocals for "Metronome".
No shortage of highlights and no letup in a set lasting about an hour and twenty minutes — though the band might have been wearing down during set closing one-two punch from high-water mark Wrong, with a couple bum notes audible during "Oh No! Bruno!". Regrouping for a pair of encores that added another twenty-minutes to the proceedings, the night closed with the triumphalism of "Victory", and once again raging against the dying of the light carried the day.
1 METZ will be headlining a stacked lineup on the first night of Wavelength's TWELVE! festival, Thursday, February 16, 2011 at Parts & Labour.
Artist: Yamantaka//Sonic Titan
Recorded at The Garrison, January 28, 2012.Yamantaka//Sonic Titan - Lamia
Full review to follow. A little theatricality goes a long way, as YT//ST demonstrated, their show offering more than just their "noh wave" musical stylings. They played pretty much everything from their album, and encored with this one, which isn't. "If you have a heart / it'll tear you apart".
* Thanks to John for passing the title of this one along to me.
Song: Cut You Down*
Recorded at Placebo Space (Wavelength 533), January 27, 2012.Thieves - Cut You Down
Review to follow. A pleasantly laid-back, folky evening at the comfy Placebo Space was given a jolt from Wayne Petti & co.'s Thieves.
* Thanks to Wayne for passing the title to this one along.
In my normal style, here's an irregularly large number of songs from this show:
Artist: The Mountain Goats
Songs: You Were Cool / Prowl Great Cain / Going to Georgia
Recorded at The Opera House, April 3, 2011.
But if that's not enough, I've uploaded the concert to the Live Music Archive, where you can stream the whole thing or download it in the format of your choice, including lossless FLAC files:
My notes for this set can be found here.
The Mountain Goats (Megafaun)
The Opera House. Sunday, April 3, 2011.
I've never been a big fan of The Opera House, and this trip down to Queen Street East did nothing to change that opinion. Getting into the venue is something like passing through customs to North Korea, a series of lineups and random, redundant security checks — I was asked if I had any "cigarettes" more than once. That was more than enough to drain away my enthusiasm, especially as the slowness of it all meant that I missed the bulk of the set by openers Megafaun.
I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind by this point, so the fact that what I did hear didn't do anything for me is probably inconclusive at best. What came off as hey y'all twang-ish pleasantness might have had something more substantial behind it.
As I moved up between sets, I was faced with another one of the venue's least-pleasant features — in a full house, the lower floor near the stage gets uncomfortably packed. At least, looking around, it appeared that this was a bit of an older, fannish, non-rowdy kind of crowd. That's about be what one'd expect for The Mountain Goats, a band that has a lot of highly-passionate fans who feel a strong connection to bandleader John Darnielle, whose lyrics transcend most singer/songwriter pitfalls by remaining grounded to the mundane while cutting deeply and incisively into the dark reams of pain and soul-damage.
In this crowd with plenty hardcore enthusiasts1, I was actually here as something of a curiosity-seeker. For a band that does inspire such strong devotion, I'm actually a rather casual Mountain Goats fan, getting into them only around the time of 2008's Heretic Pride. As such, this was my first chance to see them, as they hadn't passed through town since '07 — in the band's duo days before drummer John Wurster was in the fold. They're now a relatively-expansive four-piece, with longtime bassist Peter Hughes complemented by touring keyboard player Yuval Semo.
Given the preciseness and detail that Darnielle musters, it was a disappointment that the set began with a pre-recorded skit/entry music that led off with a cheery, "hi, America!", which is never endearing to a Canadian crowd. I was feeling too rankled by that to grasp the thrust of the heavy metal overture, though I believe it was something by Morbid Angel, whose Erik Rutan produced some of the tracks on the new All Eternals Deck.
But, as the band took their places, I put all that behind me, seeing as Darnielle's music is about overcoming adversity (or, less optimistically, being crushed by it). Darnielle cheerfully apologized for the long absence from Toronto — in fact, after leading off with something new ("Liza Forever Minnelli"), he was a joyful presence on stage, countering the darkness in the songs with witty banter and a willingness to pause to tell the stories behind some of the songs. It's pleasing to observe that his clipped, nasal cadences while singing are balanced by a chipper demeanour between songs. He also must have figured his most intent fans would be up close, given a bit of a propensity to chat off mic with the front row between songs.
Although the new album got its due, there were also plenty dips into the band's back catalogue2, including "Jeff Davis County Blues" and "Southwood Plantation Road" early on. Musically, The Mountain Goats is a pretty straightforward band, with quick songs and uncluttered arrangements that serve as a delivery system for Darnielle's lyrics. The live band applies a sonic consistency to material from different eras and managed to inject some energy into the songs from the new album (like like "Estate Sale Sign") that flirted with blandness in their recorded versions.
Darnielle chatted about his unusually-large microphone (a repurposed drum mic), and told the story of how Amy Grant inspired him to play without shoes. A quieter solo portion began with "Outer Scorpion Squadron" accompanied only by Semo's keys before Darnielle was left by himself on stage, strumming recent non-album track "You Were Cool" and back-to-back Sunset Tree singalongs "You or Your Memory" and "Up the Wolves".3
There were a few things that I would assume would count as rarities, like "Seeing Daylight" from the 1996 Beautiful Rat Sunset EP — you'd think that most people here wouldn't be familiar with something like that, but the audience was amazingly quiet and attentive. That and "Age of Kings" was part of an quiet-with-band burst, before tearing things up again, starting with "Palmcorder Yajna" and the jaunty "Prowl Great Cain".4 There were a couple more deep cuts5 before the main set ended with Darnielle relenting to play "No Children", which I think was the most shouted-for song throughout the night. Sometimes the darkest things can be the most cathartic, especially when Darnielle simply held the mic out over the crowd to collectively sing out the refrain for him: "I am drowning / There is no sign of land / You are coming down with me / Hand in unlovable hand / And I hope you die / I hope we both die."
At eighty minutes, that would have been a decent concert. But Darnielle raised the bar when he returned and announced, "I have the day off tomorrow, so I'm going to be straight with you. We're gonna do what the Grateful Dead used to do and just do a second set. [beat] This will be five or six songs instead of the whole set. The reason it's not a whole second set is that those guys were really outstanding musicians and I am just a caveman hitting my guitar with a fist... I think a six-song second set is the best I can do." With that, the band launched into a kick-ass rendition of "Going to Georgia"6 from 1995's first full-length Zopilote Machine. It seemed obvious that the band was reaching beyond their standard tour repertoire, as before "Song for Dennis Brown", Darnielle commented, "Wish Yuval luck, he's never heard this song." And similarly, during "Dance Music", Darnielle was twisted with his guitar toward Semo so the keyboard player could see the changes.
There was still time left for stories, including a self-lacerating tale about an ill-considered youthful decision to break up with a girlfriend via letter to introduce "Broom People". And then with a fond good night came the affirming strains of "This Year" ("I am going to make it through this year / if it kills me").
Somewhat to my surprise, the mega-encore was not the end, with the older trio returning for a cover of Nothing Painted Blue's "Houseguest", the band rocking it out as Darnielle's microphone became intermittently unplugged as he fell to his knees, blasting the lyrics to the front row. The whole show wrapped up after twenty-five songs and just shy of two hours, almost enough to make up for the venue.
1 At one point later in the show, a woman behind me shouted up to the stage, "I hate men, but I love you, John!"
2 All Eternals Deck is the band's thirteenth album, although those were preceded by a number of early cassette-only releases, to say nothing of singles and EP's. The prolific Darnielle also has a number of side-projects as well, making for a pretty vast body of work.
3 This night would prove a treat for fans of the 2005 album, which was dipped into quite frequently throughout the night, with "Dinu Lipatti's Bones" being surveyed, plus "Song for Dennis Brown" and "Dance Music" in the encore, asfter Darnielle admitted, "we have two songs left and they are also from The Sunset Tree, because that is how I'm feeling."
4 "This is a song about a guy who betrayed a guy! Later he felt bad because the guy got held in prison and tortured. That pretty much is what this song is about."
5 Including the spare "Snow Crush Killing Song" (from Sweden) and the particularly lovely "Elijah" from The Coroner's Gambit, one of the albums that, to be honest, I never even knew existed before searching for the song's origin.
6 Previously an ongoing concern for Darnielle, he has penned nearly two dozen "Going to..." songs.
Song: Tarter Mouth*
Recorded at The Silver Dollar Room, January 26, 2012.Hussy - Tarter Mouth
Review to follow. A roar, a chug, a shout — this ain't your grandaddy's cosmic slop.
* Thanks to a commenter for passing along the title to this one.
Gladstone Hotel (Melody Bar). Friday, April 1, 2011.
Launching its third year in the Gladstone Hotel's Melody Bar, Batuki Music's annual World Concert Series faced a bad news/good news scenario, with scheduled headliner Mel M'rabet forced to cancel due to illness. Luckily, with such an abundance of talent at hand, programmer Nadine McNulty had no problem finding a last-minute fill-in, who turned out to be Daniel Nebiat.
Maybe these things shouldn't matter when we evaluate the music, but it counts for a lot that besides his musical gifts, Danny Nebiat is a truly warm and openhearted guy. While the band were soundchecking, a youngster, whose family was having dinner at one of the nearby tables, walked over to take a picture. Spotting him, Nebiat immediately hammed it up for the kid, even moving aside the microphone stand he was setting up to allow for a better picture of the whole band. Similarly, Nebiat is an excellent ambassador for his music, patiently introducing crowds to the krar (an Eritrean lyre) and otherwise always willing to talk about his music, whether engaging in bar-room musicology or acting as a dialect coach.1
He was also bringing a slightly different sound from when I saw him before, with Samuel, a guitarist, sitting in for the duration of the set. Although he was new to the band, he showed great technique and knew his stuff. Mostly playing as one more rhythmic element, he largely doubled Nebiat's krar with quick, staccato picks. At a few points, I saw him intently peering at the other musicians to see where he fit in before catching the song and throwing in little double-time nibbles. Tasty, tasty licks. Meanwhile, the backbone of the band is Naz Tana's Bass and Yared's keyboards — these guys play with unflashy professionalism, leaving plenty room for Nebiat to be a showman.
Eritrean music (which overlaps with the styles of neighbouring northern Ethiopia) has two dominant modes, tigrigna and the kicking guayla beat — the latter, with its repeating ba-doom one-two rhythmic lurch, is an tasty gift from Eritrea to the world. The band gave a taste of both in the first of the forty-five minute sets, which included five lengthy jams.
In an effort to bring together different kinds of African arts, during the break there was a special presentation from the Jaivah Dance troupe, showing off their intensely physical moves. After the intermission, once the band was up to full speed again, Nebiat brought back Saba Sabina and the dance troupe back out. After impressing the crowd a bit in front of the stage, they quickly started pulling up members of the audience to dance with them, and were soon leading a dance parade around the room, a snake that kept getting longer with each circuit, until it was like a continuous Ouroboros loop. And from there, the rest of the set was more of a dance party, the songs expanding to match that, with four long tunes stretching out past forty-five minutes. And much to the crowd's delight, without missing a lick on the krar, Nebiat stepped down from the stage to dance along.
Listen to a couple songs from this set here.
As I've said many times before, I'm a big fan of these early Friday shows at the Gladstone — the folks there should be commended for continuing to program them.2 This was really good night, and I feel lucky to live in a city like this where we can see such talent. Remember folks: this isn't "world" music — it's local music. It's here in our city, and it doesn't take much to feel more a part of it.
1 Nebiat is also a busy working musician — when he's in town, most weekends he can be found playing somewhere on the Bloor/Ossington Ethiopian strip — worth seeking out!
2 The "other" African music series at the Gladstone (programmed by Afrofest's Music Africa) takes over the Melody Bar on Friday nights during February to celebrate Black History Month. First up (on February 3, 2012) is Fojeba, bringing some funky zouk. Recommended! Daniel Nebiat will return to the Gladstone as well during this series, appearing with the Kush Ensemble on February 17.
Artist: John K. Samson
Song: The Last And
Recorded at Soundscapes, January 24, 2012.John K. Samson - The Last And
Full review to follow. A solo acoustic set from Weakerthans mainman John K. Samson brought out a packed crowd to celebrate the release of his new Provincial album.
Sonic Boom Records. Friday, April 1, 2011.
San Francisco haze-rockers Weekend1 were dropping into Sonic Boom's basement before they'd be heading across the street to open for postpunk O.G.'s Wire. I was glad to have a chance to see the band, who'd not made it to town yet for their own show, though I knew them from their Sports2 album. It might be somewhat revealing to mention that that album came out on Slumberland, but it should be noted that Weekend hew far closer to the murky haze of, say, Crystal Stilts than the clean tweeness of Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
Or to put it another way, it was rather telling during the quick soundcheck when bassist/vocalist Shaun Durkan commented, "I don't need a ton of vocals." The extra-quick set-up came after some unspecified border delays, and although the band was a bit late rolling into the store, they were generous with their time once things got going.
The set lead off with "Untitled", the album's forceful closer. Like the album version, the song started with an instrumental overture, but once it got going, while the vox were indeed buried, they weren't swathed in layers of murk and reverb, giving the live sound a more direct feeling. The vocals got hazier after that — at first I thought Durkan had a pretty large effects rack for his bass, but it was actually for his microphone. But even with all that, the trio's sound was relatively cleaner in this setting.
There were some interesting effects of this de-hazing: "Veil" was especially cleaned up, rendering the plaintive lyric much more comprehensible and letting the words carry the song's sadness. "End Times", meanwhile, had a more overt new wave/new order kind of feel.
There were also a couple looks ahead to songs that would show up on the Red EP. In fact, at the start of "Hazel", Durkan mentioned that the band were playing this for the first time ever. "This might end in flames," he added, but it actually came off without undue problems, though it wasn't yet entirely honed to fine popsong it would become in its recorded incarnation. Closer "Coma Summer" — also with a catchy heart buried under many garbled layers — brought some more murky sonic complications along with guitarist Kevin Johnson's brisk strumming to cap things off.
The band played a seven-song set, going more more than thirty-five minutes — probably almost as much as they'd be allotted later on in the night opening for Wire. After they finished, I spotted Josh McIntyre (from local rockers Little Girls) in conversation with the band. Which makes sense, as there's definitely some close points of comparison with his own music. Weekend haven't made it back yet for their own headlining show, but there would certainly be some like-minded locals for them to play with.
Listen to a track from this set here.
2 Not to be confused with Sports, the 1983 chart-topper from Huey Lewis and The News. In case you're getting it mixed up with the album at hand, do note that the Weekend's most assuredly isn't the one where "the whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost."
In collaboration with This Mess, I have uploaded their entire set (and first show!) from Wavelength 531 to the Live Music Archive. You can stream the whole thing, or download it in the format of your choice, including lossless FLAC files.
The band's next show is gonna be this Thursday (January 26, 2012) at the Silver Dollar, alongside Hussy, Ostrich Tuning and Mazola. Come check 'em out!
P.S. Any artists with whom I've shared recordings previously — if this looks like a cool idea to you, please get in touch with me and we can get something of yours up on the Archive!
Artist: Pissed Jeans
Recorded at Sneaky Dee's, January 20, 2011.Pissed Jeans - new song
Review to follow.
* Does anyone know the title to this one? It was called out from the stage as a "new one" — please leave a comment if you have any info!
Destroyer (The War on Drugs / Mantler)
Lee's Palace. Thursday, March 31, 2011.
Mantler was a savvy choice for an early opener at this show, dovetailing nicely with the headliner's smooth and mellow new direction. Chris Cummings has been doing that for awhile, and here the trio was playing to a relatively thin crowd, but probably one with a lot of people who hadn't been exposed to Mantler's superbly-composed lounge-pop before.
On a stage crammed with gear, Cummings' Wurlizer and Jay Anderson's drums were squeezed right up near the front of the stage. Along with Matt McLaren's bass, the band produced a snappy funk from the low-key leadoff of "Playin' Along". "I Guarantee You a Good Time" won over some of the crowd and as the place filled in, the band held their own in terms of amount of attention being paid to them — which is always a victory for the first band up playing to people here for someone else. And Cummings elicited some cheers as he stood up to rap out a verse on closer "I've Been Destroyed". After the set, I overheard one guy approvingly describing the set to a late-arriving friend as "kinda like Bacharach", so it seems that the tuxedo-clad singer managed to make something of an impact.
Listen to a track from this set here.
Playing songs from their then-pending Slave Ambient album, Philadelphia's The War on Drugs were, at the time of this show, still mostly talked about as being the band Kurt Vile used to be in. That album would go on to make something of a splash, and put the band on an upward trajectory to a point where they're now generally being considered on their own merits. But still, I guess the seeds had been planted, as there was a fairly-full house for the quartet.
A balky microphone rendered Adam Granduciel's vox in opener "Best Night" staticky and incomprehensible, but his guitar work was pretty tasty. I dunno if it was that bad mic or something else, but he seemed to be in a testy mood at the outset: "Can you put some fuckin' sauce on it?" he desperately sneered at song's end — which, as "Baby Missiles" started, apparently meant some massive reverb. He'd repeat the call a couple more times in the set, to the extent that a few guys in the crowd were soon also calling for more sauce on it.
Underneath the sauce, his vocal delivery registered as sub Dylan-y, a flavour which was imparted even more strongly in "Buenos Aires Beach", with a folk-rock 12-string-style guitar part. So there were some tensions here between the band's retro-y fundamentals and the more contemporary tweaks. For the latter, besides that fashionable reverb, there was a tidy regularity to the rhythm section — drummer Steven Urgo was holding things together with a laptop and click-track. That imparted a sleekness, that when set against the Americana-ish vibe of the vocals, seemed to be the band's most distinguishing feature — as if they were trying to find a synthesis between a stack of Tom Petty albums and another of Thrill Jockey discs.
The mellow "Brothers" did bring their old bandmate to mind, sounding like it could nestle quite nicely on a mixtape next to Kurt Vile's "Jesus Fever". But even better was "Coming Through", where the guitar tone channelled Lindsay Buckingham and the steady rhythm channelled nothing so much as Fleetwood Mac in a concise three minutes, a more intriguing package than closer (and older track) "Arms Like Boulders" which stretched out more and leaned a bit more on the Dylanisms.
It was a forty-minute, eight-song set from the band, a lot of them in the five-minute range, in that zone between popsong concision and jammy looseness. And as the set progressed, Granduciel's mood improved — a few songs in he was fixated on the notion that the hometown crowd might, at any time, start a chant for Destroyer's saxophone player Joseph Shabason.
Listen to a track for this set here.
Shabason's "You Belong to the City"-esque sax licks would indeed be central to Destroyer's new sound on Kaputt. On stage, that was reproduced alongside trumpet player J.P. Carter (Fond Of Tigers, Inhabitants). The 80's-inspired smoothness was the album's big talking point, but somewhat unsurprisingly, in the live setting it all sounded like, well, Destroyer, with the new stuff getting scuffed up a bit and the older songs getting some smoothed-out treatments. But there's no doubt that soft-rock vibe was palpable right from the start with album-opening track "Chinatown".
Before the show, I was having a beer with J., and mentioned how it'd be interesting to finally see Destroyer play, upon which he swiftly reminded me that we had, in fact 'em, back in 2008. On being told, the memories of that show flashed back into my consciousness, mostly about the quote-unquote eccentric behaviour of leader/vocalist Dan Bejar. That persona was on display here, as the band launched into "Blue Eyes", with Bejar stopping the song after its first line. He was peering back to the soundman, thinking he was being signalled, though it turned out to be a false alarm: "I'm hallucinating," Bejar muttered, one of the few verbal asides he'd offer. On the whole, Bejar — who wasn't wielding a guitar this time around — came off as more closed off and inward-directed than previously, though still to some degree like he was playing a character.
Instead of wild-eyed rock prophet, though, his mode here was closed-eye visionary, delicately gripping the microphone as he sang. Like his multi-layered lyrics, it's hard to know whether to take his presence at face value — while on stage, is he self-consciously playing the role of anguished artist? Does he maybe really feel that way a bit, but then plays it up for gravitas? I don't assume to say, but there were times that he looked acutely uncomfortable. On the other hand, he also showed a sharp awareness of his surroundings: as "Painter in Your Pocket" was getting started, Shabason was struggling with a beer bottle when Bejar non-nonchalantly reached in his pocket and handed him an opener.
Behind the frontman was a seven-piece band, giving full-force to the new material's lush arrangements. It admirably rendered the Kaputt material with the same smooth hammer deployed on the album and applied the same treatment to the older stuff in the setlist. "It's Gonna Take an Airplane" (from 2004's Your Blues) was considerably bulked up from the original's acoustic guitar/flute mellowness, there was an excellent version of "My Favorite Year" and a spatter-y "3000 Flowers" that melded a rocking edge with the sax line.
Of the new songs, "Downtown" was notable for featuring dual bass action. "Suicide Demo for Kara Walker" featured the same extended intro as the album version, the song stretching past the eleven-minute mark but never feeling too prolonged. The main set closed with the weird disco-isms of "Song for America", and a slowly decaying synth pattern kept playing as the audience called for an encore. Returning to the stage Bejar commented, "as always, you're too kind," about his most protracted direct communication to the crowd.
The encore would only turn out to be one song, but that would be the expansive "Bay of Pigs". Clutching a handful of lyric sheets, Bejar returned to the stage accompanied only by a guitarist and keyboard player Larissa Loyva (whose backing vox throughout the night were a key element of the band's sound) though eventually the rest of the band would filter back to join in as the song slowly ramped up from floating textures to mutant pop. There was an enjoyable crack in the façade when, mid-song, the musicians nearly broke each other up, the "da-da-dums" punctuated by Bejar's half-cut-off laughs. Even if this was a less-forceful show than when I'd seen them before, it was more insistent on my memory, and I reckon that this time I won't forget that I saw Destroyer play.
Artist: Herman Dune (feat. Julie Doiron)
Song: Walk Don't Run
Recorded at The Horseshoe Tavern, January 19, 2012.Herman Dune - Walk Don't Run
Full review to follow. When Julie Doiron announced that she was bumping one of the nights of her own residency at Saving Gigi to catch former collaborators/tourmates Herman Dune, it didn't take a massive leap of faith to think she'd show up on stage. Less expected for me was the amount of full-bore rockin' from the trio, with extended codas aplenty. Good stuff!
Artist: Jonathan Adjemian
Song: [excerpt from an improvisation]
Recorded at The Earth Ship, March 26, 2011.Jonathan Adjemian - [excerpt from an improvisation]
My notes for this set can be found here.
Keir Neuringer (Jonathan Adjemian / Ghost Eye)
The Earth Ship. Saturday, March 26, 2011.
I kinda suspected that this wasn't going to be the regular sort of show. The listing required an RSVP, and the reply to the email I sent giving me the address to the mysterious Earth Ship listed me as "#13 of 35". So not a big crowd, then. And the address directed one to a "Rear Coach House", making me wonder whether this was going to be in someone's glorified garage.
It turned out to be far more elaborate than that. Passing through the door, the vestibule gave the impression of a gateway to something different, with toy record players spinning broken discs. And then, through a sheet... and into the warm and friendly outpost of The Earth Ship. Attached to the printmaking shop of local artist Jeff Garcia, this living space was filled to the brim with his works, like a giant three-dimensional collage drawn from his mind.
I don't know much about the art world, so I can't speak to all of the context he's working in, but I was immediately drawn to Garcia's work. I had seen him before at a few gigs, though, and I could easily grip the connections between local-sourced, organic music and the DIY approach in his art. Applying a sort of post-apocalyptic bricolage to the world of today, Garcia's art is often sourced from found materials, and has a funky, off-the-grid vibe. In so doing, he makes a strong statement against the crass disposability of our society, every item insisting: we could wring out so much more value from all this stuff we have casually thrown away.
One wall of the high-ceilinged main space was dominated by a giant sculpture of pinecones, each glued to a magnet and attached to a wall in a 30×30 grid, allowing for a near-infinite variety of patterns to be created by removing some. A rope sculpture dangled from above, and it appeared to be a giant plaything for Shouty, the housecat who had the serene self-possession of someone who knows they're really the ones in charge. Every show should have a cat that will climb up onto your lap and cuddle.
Very much a casual, friends-hanging-out vibe, with hearty warm drinks and a wide selection of music playing in the background. At one point, musician Isla Craig pulled out an opera album and played a cut. Perhaps appropriate for a show like this, the place gave the impression that everything was an improvisation and all the terrain was up for grabs — even where openers Simeon Abbott and Steve Ward were going to play took some deliberation before they started setting up essentially in the middle of the space.
Appearing as Ghost Eye, Ward and Abbott would be joined by a visual collaborator, and as a slow rumble of noise built up, Ward playing some low trombone notes over it, pixellated colours from a projector danced over the musicians and onto the pinecones behind them. With some creative applications of new technology, both musicians were using their iThings as instruments in this set, at first for playback to add muttering found-sound voices in the background as well as reverse-masked plinking noises. After a bit, Ward also used it as a microphone, holding it in the bell of his horn to grab sounds for further treatment — and later on, he'd pull up a keyboard app to use as an instrument. Meanwhile, Abbott, his guitar laying flat on the floor, was sticking things in the strings while manipulating sounds with pedals and his own phone.
A mini-fog machine sprayed into the projector's light-path made its digitized blocks seem as indeterminate as the music, which blurred in and out of focus. After one quiet interlude, Abbott started gently hammering his guitar strings while Ward introduced a quiet trombone line behind, using a CD as a mute. Not long after, Abbott was bowing the guitar's strings while Ward added soundbursts from a tape recorder and loop pedal, the sound eventually receding into buzzing-bee washes of looped trombone before finishing with a spooky concrète close.
It's fascinating to list of all the creative innovations used in producing the music, but it wasn't just toy time. The end result was stretched-out but not lax; contemplative but not self-absorbed.1
Listen to an excerpt form this set here.
Instead of taking over the spot in the centre of the room where Ghost Eye had played, Jonathan Adjemian was perched like a mostly unseen, somewhat-unpredictable oracle on the landing above the entryway. There was an old wooden ladder extending out horizontally from the ledge, as as Adjemian began, Shouty the cat strolled down it to find a perch above the audience and settled in for a nap.
There would be a different sort of improvisation at hand here, as before getting down to the sort of solo keyboard work I'd heard before from Adjemian, he began by telling the story of a traveller arriving in a small town to award them with a statue of one of their leading citizens. Unable to put one of their number above the whole, the stranger proceeded to create statues of everyone in the town — as well as the town itself. Relating the story in a friendly, conversational manner as wizzling analog synth noises built up behind the words, Jeff Garcia, in the kitchen area below, added some live foley by flipping the curtain and slamming the freezer door.
As the story ended, leaving the listeners to reflect upon the difference between the world and simulacra of the world and the consequences of the replication replacing the original, the music slowly built up to some haunting synth-generated noises that sounded like loons or perhaps drifting spirits calling out. As that segued into the "song", Garcia was improvising on an overhead projector, grabbing things at hand to add to a water pan that was being projected onto the wall.
Adjemian started to add a pow-wow like beat as he played a warbling synth solo over top — the effect was strongly evocative of the NFB's Dance vignette. That moved into some more sawtooth patterns, and as it ended, the loon-like cries returned. Given the emotional arc of the music, it almost felt like a retelling of the same story as before. As it finished, when the audience down on the floor started to applaud, Shouty stood up and stretched her back, and walked off the perch like a thespian returning to the wings, as if were a matter of course that the applause was for her.2
Listen to an excerpt from this set here.
New Yorker Keir Neuringer was the night's out-of-town headliner. I hadn't heard of him at all previously, but he fit into the vibe perfectly. Neuringer came off like a solitary traveller reporting on a collapsing society, a road-bound Cassandra staying one step ahead of the flames of destruction or the pitchfork-bearing mobs preferring to ignore the situation and watch TV. The percussion-plus-spoken-word "Conquistadors" was like the work of a doomy beat poet or a we-told-you-so Last Poet, leading off: "First they came for the forests and I did not speak out because I did not live in the forests", a constant pounding rhythm churning like the industrial state looking for more and more raw materials.
He shifted over to his Farfisa to power "Rocket Ships" with a sort of funhouse dread vibe, his statements punctuated with a kickdrum at his feet, then improvised a sawtooth segue to the scorched-earth visions of "Strange Lands", a constant low warble of unease set off against a feedback-y howl. The songs felt like dispatches from a post-Empire America, with old boundaries and categories in flux, a feeling that was heightened even further on "What We Have", where suddenly his roadtrip felt less like Kerouac and more like Cormac McCarthy:
some will fall to their knees
some will stand shoulder to shoulder
some will not even flinch
some have already begun to brace themselves
some will eat flesh
some will shed flesh
Ending with the pronouncement "whatever it is, we all have it... this has all happened already" the song trailed off into an extended coda that melded into an instrumental. After a couple minutes, Neuringer reached over to stick a tape in a cassette player, adding a disembodied, warbling voice halfspeaking in zwippling fastforward bursts with one hand, while the other alternated between keyboard vamps and knob-twiddling effects on the voice, which never quite settled into mere comprehensibility. The whole thing sped up into a whirl, like a frenzied society driving itself to collapse — an apt vision, for I realized afterward that the voice belonged to Helen Caldicott, prophet of nuclear doom and familiar to Canadians as the subject of the NFB doc If You Love This Planet.
But after that, the night ended with some ascension as Neuringer strapped on his saxophone, matched the drone from his keyboard, and as that cut out, kept playing. And playing — with circular breathing that slowly transformed from being a straight drone to a repeating ostinado figure, which became increasingly punctuated by squeals and then finally into something that might sound like a conventional, if wayward solo, series of notes suddenly slowing down like he again was fiddling with the playback head of a tape player. This solo sax piece is titled "The Love Story" and it sounded like a soul-cry against all the previous dark emotions in the songs, Neuringer playing with a restless verve, pushing onward, never stopping.
The whole set, going past forty-five minutes, was non-stop. The circular breathing impressed as a feat of sheer endurance (though, in an attempt to demystify it, Neuringer gathered the crowd in a circle at the end and gave quick tutorial on the basics of the technique) but it was the songs that stuck with me afterward.3 On the whole, a really inspiring night, and the sort of show where you feel privileged to be sharing an earthship journey with such creative passengers.
Listen to a track from this set here.
1 Besides playing in a variety of groups (as well as solo — his Lone Bone project is rather worth seeing), Ward is also busy as a musical curator, putting together shows of boundary-pushing music in his Panic! series, Monday nights at Somewhere There.
2 Adjemian also operates under the bandonym Hoover Party, and can be found playing in a terrific lineup tomorrow night (January 19, 2012) at Holy Oak Café alongside Isla Craig, Alex Lukashevsky and Tenderness.
No Shame All-Ages Matinee (feat. Army Girls / Modern Superstitions / Ruby Coast)
NOW Lounge. Saturday, March 26, 2011.
Following up on their look into the somewhat-underwhelming state of all-ages shows in T.O., NOW decided to be a part of the solution by turning over the Lounge on the ground-floor of their offices over to No Shame's Lauren Schreiber for an afternoon show. As I followed the signs chalked on the Church Street sidewalks into the Lounge, the show was a prima facie success, the room filled with kids of, um, all ages ranging from enthusiastic young'uns bounding underfoot to broody, Beib-coiffed tweens sullenly slouching in the booths along the walls. And on stage, I Eat Kids were probably closer to the young end of the spectrum. Representing for the ten-and-under demographic, the band's enthusiasm was so awww-inducing it was easy to overlook that they were playing songs they wrote at a pretty proficient level. Proud dad Tim Vesely (Violet Archers, ex-The Rheostatics) beamed happily at the side of the room, while a lot of friends danced around up front.
Some of that younger contingent (and their parents) slipped away after that, but there was still quite a mix on hand as rock duo Army Girls took the stage. The all-ages enthusiasm of vocalist/guitarist Carmen Elle (who noted, "I've been playing since I was fifteen") was quite apparent. Backed by drummer Andy Smith, the pair played tunes from their slim but potent songbook.
Out of breath after a churning take of "The Power", Carmen Elle commented, "when I was younger, that was easier to do." But when the sitting row of small-fry taking in the set from right up front started an organized back-and-forth wave during "Cold and Alcohol", she certainly still had enough energy to hop over and lean right up to them, happily hamming it up without missing a lick on her guitar. The set included the five songs that would later end up on the Close to the Bone EP as well as the equally-worthy "Guts".
Listen to a track from this set here.
It had been almost a couple years since I'd crossed paths with Modern Superstitions — they weren't even modern yet — but it seemed like they'd used their time well. They were a fairly taut unit back then, but now were also sounding more snappy — like a switchblade in the pocket of a leather jacket, sharpened and polished.
Vocalist Nyssa Rosaleen delivers with her strong voice, but still isn't super-animated on stage. Or perhaps excess flash just isn't the band's style — the best thing here might be a rock-solid rhythm section (Harry Burgess on bass and Ben Reinhartz on drums) that impresses with coiled potential more than kinetic pizazz. And guitarist Matthew Aldred still exercises a deadpan wit between songs.
All of which is to say there something pleasantly subtle about the band's delivery, a late-night vibe that was a bit at odds with the bright afternoon setting. "This next song is called 'School Days'. That's appropriate," commented Rosaleen, looking down the length of rectangular room, and commenting, "though the children have mainly left." ("Inappropriate!" shouted Aldred.) After the driving "No Shame" (titled, as the band took pains to point out, as a tribute to Lauren Schreiber, who supported the band and put them on her bills many times) they eased back for a couple slower ones, a nice change of pace before tearing back to close out the set.
Sunbleached, their debut full-length, is now near release1 so I reckon we'll be hearing more about this band soon. After their set, they had some of the show's young patrons sidle up to ask 'em for autographs, so you can take that as a positive sign.
Listen to a track from this set here.
Proudly hailing from Aurora (or at least not taking pains to conceal their hometown), Ruby Coast was playing songs from their then-just released Whatever This Is.2 Currently a core three-piece (guit/keyb/drums) playing with a bassist, the band led with the energetic "Stability" and slightly more addled "Dr.Acula".3
I have nothing bad to say about the band. They're a little yelpy for my taste, and maybe slot a little too easily into whatever cubbyhole you keep your Born Ruffians/Tokyo Police Club albums, which is admittedly not my thing.
Still, thanks to Keith Bradford's keyb work, there's an interesting commitment to atmospherics underlying the songs, and there's no doubt they're solid performers on stage — even managing to enlist some audience participation from the teenaged boys who moved up front to see them. Plus, I did appreciate that not everything was jammed into to a narrow musical spectrum, with stuff like "Liza Liza" slowing down the pulse a bit. Despite their album's newness, they even had some new material to present, and that was some of the stuff I liked the most.
Listen to a track from this set here.
Besides the ennobling notion of loading the heads of the next generation with good music before all the mersh crap can take root, I like all-ages shows because you're done efficiently early. In this case, with plenty of time before dinner and, um, the evening's rock'n'roll show. Having made their point, we'll see if NOW takes any further steps to help foster more shows like this in town.
3 Am I the only one who thinks it would be kinda awesome if Drew Smith did a cover of this?
Ethio T.O. (feat. Canaille feat. Isla Craig / Ethio Fidel)
The Music Gallery. Friday, March 25, 2011.
Billed as "a celebration of Ethiopian & Eritrean music in Toronto", this entry in the Music Gallery's "New World" series did an admirable job in bringing together a really interesting mix under one roof. The full-house was certainly not just the usual MG crowd, and there was a sense of energy in the room as the night began. Starting things up were jazz titans Canaille — or "Can-Isla" as guest curator David Dacks dubbed them, owing to the presence of vocalist Isla Craig on most of the songs. Jeremy Strachan's six-piece started in their usual instrumental mode with "Watusa", a Sun Ra jam they've been playing for awhile. It had a couple ragged spots, but that gave them a chance to get their bearings for the meat of the set. Launching into a new song — one that I recall seeing the band play on the day Strachan had written it — Craig joined the band, weaving her pure tones alongside the horn lines, making this feel elegant and sophisticated.
Although Ethio-groove music has long been one of the defining elements in Strachan's compositional approach for this band, it was intriguing to hear them go full-on, tackling "Yekondowotch Mender", a Hirut Bekele song. I have no way to know if Craig — singing low in her register, but still not down as far as Bekele — was mangling the Amharic, but she sounded great doing it.1 And by that measure, there's praise due for all the musicians in negotiating this material, staying true to the sound without being slavish copyists. It seemed pretty effortless for the horn line (Strachan plus Jay Hay and Nick Bulligan) and Mike Smith's bass work was super funky. Dan Gaucher, an excellent improvising percussionist, seemed to be playing a bit more by "feel" than we'd hear in the next set. And Jesse Levine — who's knocked my socks off every time I've heard him play with Canaille — was again excellent here with his sonic function of simultaneously tying everything together while adding an unpredictable edge.
The band brought the Bekele song home in three minutes, which is a blink of the eye compared to most Ethiopian bands. After that, though, they settled in for some solid grooves. Most of the material here was reworked versions of the songs that would later show up on the band's excellent Practical Men album — best of all might have been an extended run through "Angeer", the prelude giving Levine a chance to show his stuff before another vocal turn from Craig, the whole thing stretching out past ten minutes. And then, in a version of "Practical Men", Strachan's flute was almost like a duet partner with the vocal.
The set closed with a slowly simmering Tilahun Gessesse song ("Ewedish Nebere") and a reworking of older tune "Francophonie". Really great stuff — a well-built bridge between Toronto and Addis.
Listen to a track from this set here.
That set a high standard for headliners Ethio Fidel, but this band of crafty vets have held their own in sharing the stage with plenty of big names before. The first thing to draw the eye was singer Fantahun Mekonnen, carrying a krar and wearing a cape somewhere on the Elvis/Liberace spectrum. His lute-like instrument drove the first number, which built up into a robust nine-minute jam. (As mentioned above, Ethiopian bands are rarely in a hurry to get to the next song.)
Opposite of Mekonnen in the front line on stage was bandleader Girma Wolde Michael, a true star in the local Ethiopian music scene. He's the guy that touring superstars (like Mahmoud Ahmed) call to play sax when they come to town. They were backed by a rhythm section of Gezahegn Mamo (keybs) and Andargachew Abebe (bass) behind them. And holding down the drum chair was Daniel Barnes, a veteran of the local jazz scene who has schooled himself in the tricky terrain of ethio rhythms to the point that he's also a "go to" guy when someone needs to get a band together.2
For the second song, Mekonnen put down the krar for what would turn out to be a slo-jam, complete with with Mamo's tinkly 80's keys and Abebe's nimble five-string bass runs. Given the recent coolness of such 80's soft-rock sounds, this sounded downright contemporary — the backing track could have come off, say, the latest THOMAS album. Pushing even further than that limpid lite-rock sound, some of the material pushed towards what registered to my ears as smooth jazz. Though a kickin' beat kept it mostly interesting, I wasn't as much of a fan of that part of the band's repertoire.
But there was a whole lot of goodness after that. A real mix, too, with sentimental tizita-style ballads chased with more upbeat songs that got the crowd up and dancing. I'm sure a lot of these were classics from the "golden age", given that a few were familiar even to a neophyte like me. Mekonnen worked his frontman mojo throughout, returning to stage at one point in a different, bright-striped outfit — a strong presence even if it wasn't too chatty with the crowd. After a quiet duo for krar and sax, the set — more than an hour long — ended with the scorching "Behilem".
The crowd called the band back for one more which tore it up even more with another of those classics, Mekonnen hitting an ecstatic series of moaning high notes to appreciative whoops from the crowd.
On the whole, a very successful night, and a deft bit of programming for the Music Gallery. It's worth noting that the night was guest-curated by David Dacks, who has just taken over as the MG's Artistic Director. That should be seen as a very promising sign for the institution's continued vitality, and hopefully he'll keep mixing things up with more shows like this.3
Also continuing the community-building vibe, the friendly folks at St. George the Martyr — the Music Gallery's landlords — invited the crowd up to the rectory to sit together and share a free meal. A warm way to close out a most-pleasing night.
1 Although I suspect Craig did fairly well with the Amharic — she gave special thanks to musician Daniel Nebiat (as well as a couple cab drivers!) for helping her with her enunciation.
2 His prominence is probably also a result of the fact that most contemporary Ethiopian bands — whether out of fashion or mere convenience — eschew the drummer and usually get by with programmed beats from the keyboard player.
3 Also worth noting is that Batuki Music, this show's co-presenters, are putting together a must-see special event, called Ethiopia: A Musical Perspective (Saturday, February 11, 2012 at Glenn Gould Studio) which will carry forward the spirit of Ethio T.O.
Founded as a blog about one curmudgeon's love affair with the em dash, Mechanical Forest Sound has grown to become a community-based archive of local musical culture. Assuming that "independent music" isn't just boys with guitars and "culture" isn't just some sort of pageant, MFS is an investigation of a wide range of artists, reflecting on concerts as shared experiences, acts of citizenship and a chance to get down — fuzzy photographs and clear-sounding original live recordings a specialty.
Current manifestations of this project include Track Could Bend, a monthly concert series featuring "improvised music and weird rock offshoots", presented in a casual environment.
At one point I wrote full-on concert reviews, and for longer I thought I would catch up and write about shows in the past. But these days, because of, y'know, life, do not expect much in the way of full show reviews — but live recordings with blurbs will be posted as quickly after the fact as is feasible.
Check out my original live recordings from many of the gigs discussed here.
You can also check out full sets uploaded to the Live Music Archive. [not currently active]
N.B.: All recordings should be available & playable. If you come across any broken links, invisible or non-functioning players, etc, please leave a comment and I will tend to it ASAP.
ALSO N.B.: I'm perpetually on the lookout for a new place to stash my MP3's online. If you know of any place that allows a couple gigs of stuff to be openly linked to for streaming, drop me a line!
All comments are welcome, or you can reach me at email@example.com.
All MP3's on this blog are audience recordings shared as a reminder of the excitement of seeing live music. If you are an artist who doesn't want their music shared in this way, please contact me and I shall remove it forthwith.
If you're so inclined, you can also follow me on Twitter: @TowerofBabbling
Crosswires [series relaunch!] (feat. Baa / Good Conduct / Dave from Ghostlight) / The Baby G 2017-03-20 (Monday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Long Winter 5.4 (feat. Deliluh / Leanne Simpson / Protruders / Doom Tickler / Bonnie Trash / Bunny / HEX / Midge / Clamaglamza / Joel Eel / Sistem) / Gladstone Hotel 2017-03-24 (Friday – all ages! PWYC!) [FB event]
Faster Presents: Spring Sounds (feat. Heraclitus Akimbo / Faster / Deenzi) / Gerrard Art Space 2017-03-25 (Saturday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Piano Party #10 (feat. Tom Richards / Laura Barrett / Kat Goldma) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-03-29 (Wednesday – early!) [FB event]
Crosswires (feat. Doc Pickles / Abigail Lapell / Chardon-Marie [members of Mean Red Spiders, Neck/Christiana, Soft Copy, Ghostlight]) / The Baby G 2017-04-03 (Monday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Track Could Bend #25: Second Anniversary All-Star Spectacular! [past performers return for improvised "bands from a hat" sets!] (feat. Allison Cameron/Fae Sirois/Benjamin Hackman/Michael Lynn/Aaron Corbett/Neil Wiernik/Justin Haynes/Brian Abbott/Chris Adriaanse/Patrick O'Reilly/Ian McPhedran/Laura Swankey/Jesse Levine/Del Stephen/Mike Smith/someone's memory/Bryan W. Bray/Christine Bougie and more TBA!) / The Steady Café 2017-04-04 (Tuesday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Emergents III (feat. Castle If / Laura Swankey) / The Music Gallery 2017-04-07 (Friday) [FB event]
Colin Fisher/Victor Cirone (ZOË / James Beardmore/Jakob Rehlinger) / Saving Gigi 2017-04-13 (Thursday) [FB event]
The Music Gallery's Departures Series (feat. Peter Evans Ensemble / Sam Weinberg/Chris Welcome/Ben Bennett / Not The Wind, Not The Flag) / Array Space 2017-04-16 (Sunday) [FB event]
Crosswires (feat. Eiyn Sof / Olivia Featherstone / Liz Hysen) / The Baby G 2017-04-17 (Monday – PWYC!) [FB event]
You've Changed Records 8th Anniversary Celebration (feat. Daniel Romano / Partner / Richard Laviolette / Shotgun Jimmie / Misha Bower) / Longboat Hall 2017-04-22 (Saturday) [FB event]
Nailbiter (Cares/New Tendencies/Johan Seaton) / The Steady Café 2017-04-23 (Sunday) [FB event]
These are shows that I can vouch for, but that I probably just won't have time to make it to.
Riverrun / The Emmet Ray 2017-03-20 (Monday) [FB event]
Jab Band [Liam Mitro/Luan Phung/Chris Pruden/Matthew Chalmers/Julian Anderson-Bowes — "March Rexidency"] / The Rex Hotel 2017-03-21 (Tuesday – early set @ 6:30! PWYC!) [FB event]
Billy Moon (Fresh Snow / CO/NTRY / WHOOP-Szo) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2017-03-22 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Bellwether 4 / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-03-22 (Wednesday)
Ashkenaz Festival, Small World Music & Batuki Music present (feat. AvevA Dese / The Barnes/Woldemichael Ethiojazz Quartet) / Lula Lounge 2017-03-23 (Thursday) [FB event]
Artificial Sounds presents (feat. Schwefelgelb / Kontravoid) / Bambi's 2017-03-23 (Thursday) [FB event]
Paul Linklater and José Contreras / The Cameron House 2017-03-24 (Friday – early set @ 6 p.m.!) [FB event]
The Two Koreas (Not Of) / The Dakota Tavern 2017-03-24 (Friday – early show!) [FB event]
Corrodesion presents: Audio Bleed (feat. Inchoate / Hybrid Frequency / Johan Seaton / Panic Engines) / Belljar Café 2017-03-24 (Friday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Zuze & Iva [folk-jazz ensemble merging Iranian melodies and afrobeat rhythms meets Rankin Inlet throat singer] / Small World Music Centre 2017-03-24 (Friday) [FB event]
Continuum Contemporary Music: PIVOT [new music from emerging composers Rebecca Bruton, Maxime Corbeil-Perron, Juro Kim Feliz, Beavan Flanagan, Evelin Ramon, Bekah Simms, Cindy Chen] / The Music Gallery 2017-03-25 (Saturday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Kristian North Group (Fountain / Man Made Hill / Greydini) / The Baby G 2017-03-25 (Saturday) [FB event]
Fire in Heaven: Label Launch (feat. Jay Holy / BABEL / Bodies That Matter / Man Meets Bear / David Jones / YlangYlang) / Array Space 2017-03-25 (Saturday – PWYC! all ages!) – POSTPONED![FB event]
The Courtneys (Jay Som) / The Garrison 2017-03-26 (Sunday) [FB event]
Toronto Creative Music Lab Fundraiser Launch Party (feat. Patchwork / Stereoscope) / Array Space 2017-03-26 (Sunday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Crosswires (feat. Krosst Out / Melotika / Brock Gel) / The Baby G 2017-03-27 (Monday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Lambchop / The Great Hall 2017-03-27 (Monday) [FB event]
Jab Band [Liam Mitro/Luan Phung/Chris Pruden/Matthew Chalmers/Julian Anderson-Bowes — "March Rexidency"] / The Rex Hotel 2017-03-28 (Tuesday – early set @ 6:30! PWYC!) [FB event]
Array Session #46 (feat. Nidus) / Array Space 2017-03-28 (Tuesday – PWYC!) [more info]
Buzz Records presents (feat. Colleen Green / The Memories / Goodbye Honolulu / Bald Britney) / Smiling Buddha 2017-03-28 (Tuesday – all ages!) [FB event]
The AMBiENT PiNG presents: DRONE:KLUB ["community drone immersion experience"] / Roland Inspiration Centre 2017-03-29 (Wednesday – free! participation encouraged but not required!) [FB event]
Corey Gulkin (Omhouse / Merganzer) / Monarch Tavern 2017-03-30 (Thursday) [FB event]
ΔNZOLΔ / Pursuit Grooves / Josh Grant) / Handlebar 2017-03-30 (Thursday) [FB event]
Sky High (feat. Madawaska Quartet with Rob Macdonald and Sanya Eng) / The Music Gallery 2017-03-31 (Friday) [FB event]
Century Palm (Famines / Sweet Dave & The Shallow Graves / Deathsticks) / Monarch Tavern 2017-03-31 (Friday) [FB event]
Dany Laj and The Looks (Ghosted / New Enchanters) / Bovine Sex Club 2017-03-31 (Friday) [FB event
Rooted presents: Live Recording (feat. Please Plant This Band [Justin Orok/Ben Heard/Keagan Evans Eskritt] / Wire Circus [Patrick O'Reilly/Edwin Sheard/Derek Gray]) / Harbord and Bathurst-ish 2017-03-31 (Friday) [FB event]]
Not Dead Yet presents (feat. Puce Mary / E-Saggila / Brigitte Bardon't / Passion Altar) / Array Space 2017-03-31 (Friday) [FB event]
Kurt Marble [EP release!] (Blonde Elvis / Ducks Unlimited) / Handlebar 2017-04-01 (Saturday) [FB event]
Feast In The East 61 (feat. Myriam Gendron / Sandro Perri / L CON / Merival) / Matt Durant Studio 2017-04-01 (Saturday – all ages!) [FB event]
Wearenotwhoweare (Ghostkeeper / Father Christmas / No Frills) / Monarch Tavern 2017-04-02 (Sunday) [FB event]
Not Dead Yet/Stuck in the City present (feat. Allison Crutchfield & the Fizz / Vagabon) / The Silver Dollar Room 2017-04-05 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Decorum (YI / The Whisper Game) / Smiling Buddha 2017-04-05 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Un Blonde (Thomas / Stefana Fratila) / Monarch Tavern 2017-04-06 (Thursday) [FB event]
You'll Never Get to Heaven (ZONES / SWANES) / The Baby G 2017-04-07 (Friday) [FB event]
Casey Mecija (Char Aragoza) / Drake Underground 2017-04-07 (Friday) [FB event]
Come Back Barbara (Slutcode / Groin Swivel) / Monarch Tavern 2017-04-07 (Friday) [FB event]
Ear Candy: Music in Fifths [Philip Glass' "Music in Fifths" will be performed by an exciting ensemble of musicians taken from Toronto’s pop, jazz, and classical community. It will also be paired with a brand new piece collectively composed by the performers in homage to Glass' music"] (Feat. Soundstreams) / Artscape Sandbox 2017-04-08 (Saturday) [more info]
Owen Pallett / Longboat Hall 2017-04-08 (Saturday) [FB event]
Crossed Wires (Tough Age / Klarka Weinwurm / Protruders) / Monarch Tavern 2017-04-09 (Sunday) [FB event]
Crosswires (feat. Doc Pickles / Communism / Faiyaz and the Wasted Chances) / The Baby G 2017-04-10 (Monday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Invocation presents (feat. ENTRANCE / Man Meets Bear) / Array Space 2017-04-11 (Tuesday) [FB event]
Tinariwen (Dengue Fever) / Massey Hall 2017-04-12 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Tone Deaf Culture Presents: Toronto Noise #6 (feat. Cares / Rampancy / Lumi Krysztal / Aaron Corbet) / The Smiling Buddha (basement) 2017-04-12 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Crash Vegas / Danforth Music Hall 2017-04-13 (Thursday) [FB event]
Fresh Flesh (Girls Rituals / Widdows95 / Valeroo) / The Steady Café 2017-04-13 (Thursday) [FB event]
Ice Cream (Queen of Swords / Michele Nox) / The Baby G 2017-04-14 (Friday) [FB event]
Pick a Piper (Yoo Doo Right / Edna King) / The Baby G 2017-04-15 (Saturday) [FB event]
Jon Mckiel (Cousins) / Monarch Tavern 2017-04-15 (Saturday) [FB event]
Summer Isle Presents: Providence Basement Electroniques (feat. Timeghost / Craow / Death Kneel / E-Saggila / Burglar) / Smiling Buddha (basement) 2017-04-16 (Sunday) [FB event]
Small World Asian Music Series (feat. Upanishads) / Small World Music Centre 2017-04-16 (Sunday) [FB event]
Terry Malts (Business of Dreams / First Base) / The Garrison 2017-04-18 (Tuesday) [FB event]
Zoobombs (Munizo / Knifey) / The Silver Dollar Room 2017-04-18 (Tuesday) [FB event]
The Wedding Present (Colleen Green) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2017-04-19 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Tasseomancy (Yamantaka//Sonic Titan / Han Han) / The Garrison 2017-04-19 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Duchess Says (HOAN) / The Baby G 2017-04-21 (Friday) [FB event]
Invocation presents (feat. Michael Hurley) / The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2017-04-22 (Saturday) [FB event]
Cosmic Soul (feat. SassyBlack / Obuxum / M.I.Blue) / The Music Gallery 2017-04-22 (Saturday) [FB event]
Buzz Records Presents (feat. Weaves / Casper Skulls / Vallens / Twist / PONY) / Lee's Palace 2017-04-22 (Saturday) [FB event]
Beliefs (Weight / TEENANGER / Eyeballs) / The Garrison 2017-04-22 (Saturday) [FB event]
Moon Duo (Jackie Lynn) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2017-04-23 (Sunday) [FB event]
Crosswires (feat. Kelvin Wetherell / Brian Abbott / Catholic Wilt) / The Baby G 2017-04-24 (Monday – PWYC!) [FB event]
Ronley Teper & The Lipliners / The Dakota Tavern 2017-04-27 (Thursday – early!) [FB event]
Suuns (Doomsquad / Peeling) / The Silver Dollar Room 2017-04-27 (Thursday) [FB event]
Dilly Dally (Darlene Shrugg / FRIGS) / The Silver Dollar Room 2017-04-28 (Friday) [FB event]
Wavelength 728 (feat. Del Bel / Saxsyndrum) / The Great Hall (Longboat Hall) 2017-04-29 (Saturday) [FB event]
Silver Dollar farewell series: Last night at The Dollar (feat. METZ / Fake Palms / New Fries) / The Silver Dollar Room 2017-04-30 (Sunday) [FB event]
Laser Background (Norwegian Arms / Champion Ski) / The Baby G 2017-05-03 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Brokeback (Fresh Snow) / The Garrison 2017-05-05 (Friday) [FB event]
The Art of the Piano (feat. Ali Berkok) / Gallery 345 2017-05-11 (Thursday) [FB event]
Invocation Residency Series (feat. Wrekmeister Harmonies) / Array Space 2017-05-12 (Friday) [FB event]
Zoo Owl (Ghost Twin / Plazas / Loji) / Handlebar 2017-05-13 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Colin Stetson / The Great Hall 2017-05-15 (Monday) [FB event]
Boss Hog (catl.) / Lee's Palace 2017-05-19 (Friday) [more info]
Invocation Residency Series (feat. Sir Richard Bishop / Robert Millis / The Glass Orchestra) / Array Space 2017-05-20 (Saturday – all ages!) [FB event]
21C Music Festival (feat. Cecilia String Quartet) / Mazzoleni Concert Hall 2017-05-25 (Thursday) [more info]
21C Music Festival (feat. Angèle Dubeau & La Pietà) / Koerner Hall 2017-05-26 (Friday) [more info]
21C Music Festival (feat. Bang on a Can All-Stars) / Koerner Hall 2017-05-27 (Saturday) [more info]
National Drone Day Evening Drone (feat. dreamSTATE / community drone-improv session by DRONE:KLUB) / Roland Inspiration Centre 2017-05-27 (Saturday) [FB event]
Venetian Snares & Daniel Lanois (Joanne Pollock) / The Great Hall 2017-05-31 (Wednesday) [FB event]
Daughters (Odonis Odonis / Dalek) / Hard Luck Bar 2017-06-01 (Thursday – all ages!) [FB event]
Do Make Say Think / The Danforth Music Hall 2017-06-10 (Friday) [FB event]
Track Could Bend #22 (feat. New Positions / Melk / Clara Engel & Neil Wiernik)
Dundas Video 2017-01-03 (Tuesday)
Long Winter 5.2 (feat. Han Han / Jessica Moss / LA LUNA / The Magic / M.I. Blue / Queen Of Swords / WHIMM)
The Gladstone Hotel 2017-01-06 (Friday)
The Sadies (Punching Nuns)
The Garrison 2017-01-06 (Friday)
Pickles Aid (feat. Laura Barrett / Entire Cities / Young Doctors in Love / More or Les)
Junction City Music Hall 2017-01-12 (Thursday)
My Misshapen Ear
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-01-13 (Friday)
Marker Starling (Bunny)
Burdock Music Hall 2017-01-14 (Saturday) [FB event]
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-01-18 (Wednesday)
The Cosmic Range (Off World)
The Great Hall 2017-01-19 (Thursday)
Tone Deaf Culture Presents: Toronto Noise #4 (feat. Bit Reduction / Bachelard / Goth Girl x Lumi Kryzstal / Ero Guro / Post Natal Drip)
Belljar Café 2017-01-20 (Friday)
The New Flesh (feat. Sherri Hay/Nohista/Jeremy Bailey/Jenn Norton & Steph Yates/Robin Kobrynski/Tasman Richardson/Katie Switzer & Paul Moleiro)
The Music Gallery 2017-01-21 (Saturday)
Piano Party 8 (feat. Randy Gagne / Charlie Murray)
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-01-25 (Wednesday)
Hooded Fang (Anamai / Deliluh)
The Silver Dollar Room 2017-01-27 (Friday)
Abductive Transduction: A Distributed Sound Performance (feat. Nidus)
Ratio 2017-01-28 (Saturday)
Ruins of Utopia (Fog Spirits / Error 144 / Inchoate)
Belljar Café 2017-01-28 (Saturday)
Cosmic Homeostasis II
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-01-29 (Sunday)
Lina Allemano Four (Titanium Riot)
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-01-31 (Tuesday)
Long Winter 5.3 (feat. Ivy Mairi / FIN / Young Clancy / Devon Welsh / Off World / L CON / Germaphobes / Saidah Conrad)
The Theatre Centre 2017-02-04 (Saturday)
Nite Comfort 41 (feat. Tenderness / David Sharpe)
Handlebar 2017-02-05 (Sunday)
Track Could Bend #23 (feat. Joe Byer / Upanishads / organballoon)
Dundas Video 2017-02-07 (Tuesday)
Brodie West/Nick Fraser
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-02-08 (Wednesday)
Music By & For Ken Aldcroft, III (feat. Heraclitus Akimbo / Dave Clark/Josh Cole/Colin Fisher/Jason Kenemy)
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-02-08 (Wednesday)
A Night With Pleasence (feat. Alexander Moskos / ZONES / Doom Tickler)
The Music Gallery 2017-02-11 (Saturday)
SEVENTEEN: Wavelength Music Festival 17 (feat. TOPS / DIANA / Vallens / Chandra)
The Garrison 2017-02-17 (Friday)
SEVENTEEN: Wavelength Music Festival 17 – Exclaim! & Girls Rock Camp Toronto all ages matinee (feat. Peeling / WLMRT / Strands / Denim Roses)
Monarch Tavern 2017-02-18 (Saturday)
SEVENTEEN: Wavelength Music Festival 17 (feat. Julie Doiron & The Wrong Guys / Fake Palms / FET.NAT / WHOOP-Szo / Helena Deland)
The Garrison 2017-02-18 (Saturday)
SEVENTEEN: Wavelength Music Festival 17 – Drone Brunch (feat. North Atlantic Drift / Kat Estacio)
Gladstone Hotel – Melody Bar 2017-02-19 (Sunday)
SEVENTEEN: Wavelength Music Festival 17 (feat. Phèdre / Han Han with HATAW / Emay / Fin / Hush Pup)
The Garrison 2017-02-19 (Sunday)
Somewhere There Creative Music Festival (feat. David Dacks [lecture] / Nick Fraser New Quartet / Craig Dunsmuir & Dun-Dun Band / Body Double)
The Tranzac 2017-02-24 (Friday)
Somewhere There Creative Music Festival (feat. Amelia Ehrhardt / Lîla Ensemble / roundtable on movement & improvised music)
The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2017-02-25 (Saturday)
Somewhere There Creative Music Festival (feat. The Thing Is / Manticore with James Beardmore + Xuan Ye / Future Machines / Prince Nifty)
The Tranzac 2017-02-25 (Saturday)
Somewhere There Creative Music Festival (feat. Rhinoceros Saxophone Quartet)
The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2017-02-26 (Sunday)
Somewhere There Creative Music Festival (feat. Heidi Chan/Sarah Peebles / Rob Clutton/Michael Lynn / Diane Roblin/Michael Snow / James Bailey/Allison Cameron / The Mike Smith Company / Bristles Trio)
The Tranzac (Main Hall) 2017-02-26 (Sunday)
Century Palm (Vallens / MOON EYED)
Monarch Tavern 2017-03-02 (Thursday)
Aga Khan Museum 2017-03-04 (Saturday)
Protruders (Eroders / Tranz Defonze)
The Dupe Shop 2017-03-05 (Sunday)
Wavelength 725: Music as Disruption (feat. LAL / panel discussion)
Gladstone Hotel (ballroom) 2017-03-05 (Sunday)
Burn Down The Capital presents (feat. Baby Dee / IC/JC/VC / Transcombobulation)
Burdock Music Hall 2017-03-05 (Sunday)
Track Could Bend #24 (feat. Christine Bougie / Someone's Memory / act tbh)
The Steady Café 2017-03-07 (Tuesday)
Not The Wind Not The Flag with Rob Clutton (Matias Rozenberg / Magali Meagher)
Burdock Music Hall 2017-03-09 (Thursday)
Somewhere There's Second Sunday Series (feat. Adolescence / Russell Matthews/Patrick O'Reilly/Andrew Downing/Harrison Vetro)
Array Space 2017-05-12 (Sunday) [FB event]
Burn Down The Capital presents (feat. Retired / Processor / Cutout Lover/ Luge)
The Baby G 2017-03-15 (Wednesday)
Composer's Toolbox (feat. Allison Cameron / Jonathan Adjemian/Nicholas Buligan/Matthew Fava)
Canadian Music Centre 2017-03-16 (Thursday)
The Toronto Improvisers Orchestra feat. Christine Duncan and The Element Choir
Array Space 2017-03-19 (Sunday)
Longform reviews of these shows are not currently likely. Recordings from many of these can be found if you dig through the tag cloud below.