Monday, June 30, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #51

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.

Gig of the week:

Bombino / Harbourfront Centre (W------ Stage) 2014-06-30 (Monday – free!) [more info]

Tamashek groove music might be best known in these parts through the work of Tinariwen, but Niger's Omara "Bombino" Moctar brings his own style of guitar heroics to it. The music has a subtle drone effect, which is perfect for dancing to on a summer night.

This week's noteworthy shows:

Actual Water [record release!] (Young Guv / Cellphone / Wild Highways) / Smiling Buddha 2014-06-30 (Monday) [FB event]

A Tribute To Sam Cooke (feat. Daniela Gesundheit / Drew Smith / Emilie Mover / Alex Lukashevsky / Isla Craig + all-star band!) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-03 (Thursday) [FB event]

Girls Art League fundraiser (feat. Army Girls / Dilly Dally / New Fries) / The Garrison 2014-07-04 (Friday) [FB event]

Love Comes Back: The Music of Arthur Russell (feat. LUKA / Romy Lightman / Steven Foster / Mike Olsen / Sexy Merlin / and many more) / Holy Oak Café 2014-07-04 (Friday) [FB event]

No Joy / Smiling Buddha 2014-07-04 (Friday) [FB event]

Happy America Day (feat. Darlene Shrugg) / Double Double Land 2014-07-04 (Friday) [FB event]

Dany Laj and The Looks (The Bawdy Electric) / 3030 2014-07-04 (Friday – free!) [FB event]

Afrofest / Woodbine Park 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [more info]

Early Birds Anniversary: A Fundraiser for the Tranzac Club (feat. Mike Evin / Great James / Sarah Greene / Abigail Lapell / Gabe Levine / Jessica Moore / Willow Rutherford / Ben Veneer) / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [FB event]

coexisDance presents: From the Handbook [stories and poems with music and dance] / Majlis Art Garden 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [FB event]

Feast In The East 39 with Silent Shout (feat. Silkken Laumann / No Breakup / Most People / Memorex) / Jam Factory 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Artsy Chicks (Mimico / Clara Engel / BABEL) / The Cavern Bar 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Auras Collective [double release party!] (feat. Deep Space Cowboys / Sounds Around / Flowers of Hell / Sun Stone Revolvers) / Handlebar 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [more info]

No Angels Dancing [Allison Cameron and D. Alex Meeks] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-07-06 (Sunday – matinée!)

Afrofest / Woodbine Park 2014-07-06 (Sunday) [more info]

The Waco Brothers (Old Man Markley) / The Horseshoe Tavern 2014-07-06 (Sunday) [more info]

Add these to your calendar:

Somewhere There presents: Awesomeology (feat. This is Awesome [Christine Bougie/Dafydd Hughes] / Ze Bib!) / Array Space 2014-07-09 (Wednesday) [FB event]

The Element Choir / Toronto Reference Library Atrium 2014-07-11 (Friday – Free! lunchtime show!) [more info]

Construction (feat. Absolutely Free / Doomsquad / Anamai) / Smiling Buddha 2014-07-11 (Friday – All ages! PWYC!) [FB event]

Mexican Slang [EP Release!] (WEED / Lice) / Manifesto 2014-07-12 (Saturday) [FB event]

Somewhere There presents: An Evening with Rob Clutton, Germaine Liu & Chris Pruden / Array Space 2014-07-16 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Silent Shout: Heat And The Pulse, Day 1 (feat. Zoo Owl [album release!] / Sexy Merlin) / Canton Chili 2014-07-17 (Thursday – Early Restaurant Show! Buffet dinner available!) [FB event]

Silent Shout: Heat And The Pulse, Day 2 (feat. Ken Park [album release!] / Castle If / Mekele) / Milk Glass Co. 2014-07-18 (Friday) [FB event]

Wavelength 606 (feat. Khôra / Dirty Inputs / Thom Huhtala) / 8-11 2014-07-18 (Friday) [FB event]

Simply Saucer [record release!] (PANIC / Key Witness) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-07-18 (Friday) [FB event]

The Saffron Sect (Brent Randall And His Rainbow Twangers / Red Plastic Buddah / Annie & The Honks) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-08-02 (Saturday) [FB event]

Greys [If Anything album release!] (HSY / WTCHS / Marriage) / SHIBGBs 2014-08-08 (Friday) [FB event]

Jad Fair & Norman Blake / The Cave 2014-09-06 (Saturday – early show!) [FB event]

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recording: Guerilla Toss

Artist: Guerilla Toss

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Great Hall ("NXNE 2014: Burn Down the Capital showcase"), June 18, 2014.

Guerilla Toss - unknown

You can read my quick notes from this night here.

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

Recording: Horse Lords

Artist: Horse Lords

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Great Hall ("NXNE 2014: Burn Down the Capital showcase"), June 18, 2014.

Horse Lords - unknown

You can read my quick notes from this night here.

* Does anyone know the title to this one? Please leave a comment!

Currente calamo: NXNE 2014 (Wednesday)

NXNE 2014 (Wednesday, June 18, 2014)

While these shows are fresh in my mind I want to get some quick notes down. In the fullness of time there might be a more complete accounting of the night that'll include more details and additional recordings.

Are bad vibes following me?

Unlike the kid-in-a-candy store glee of years past, the lead-up to this year's NXNE was filled with a mounting feeling of unpleasantness, mostly arising from a burgeoning friction between the festival's cocky "world-class" swagger and the local music community's smaller-scale ethic of mutual concern.

Murmurings of discontent over a newly-instituted radius clause — wherein acts were contractually barred from performing within forty-five days prior to the festival — picked up steam, especially as stories of bureaucratically-rigourous enforcement started to circulate. As after that got out, many further stories circulated both on and of the record, including poor treatment of longtime "partners". Closer to home, a minor bit of hubbub revealed that the festival was drastically cutting back accreditations to smaller, locally-based outlets. As far as I could tell — and NXNE does not publicly release a list of outlets they accredit — I was the only doofus one-man-show-with-a-crappy-blogspot still in the game.

The festival HQ on King St. was unusually sedate for the opening night of the music portion of the festival — a bit of a ghost town, really, with volunteers outnumbering patrons. I had toyed with the notion of making some manner of quixotic gesture and refusing my pass, but I quickly realized that not only would the effort be directed at anyone other than a bored (and in this situation powerless) volunteer, it wasn't as if my pass would go to someone equally/more deserving to me. I picked the damn thing up. No alarms went off. Might as well go see some music.

8 p.m.: Whimm @ Smiling Buddha

Headed down to The Smiling Buddha to duck into the Buzz showcase before my night's main event. I figured I'd run to some familiar faces there, and I wanted to check out Whimm, who had out up some rather tasty tunes on their Bandcamp. As the earliest band on the bill, they were understandably trying to put off starting , waiting for people to show up, but it also turned out that they were perhaps a little hesitant to get going seeing as they were without their drummer, who had broken her leg just a day before. (Are bad vibes following me?) With guitar, bass and drum machine, they pressed on and made a go of it.

It took a couple songs for the players to fall into sync with the programmed beats, and there were only flashes there of the shoegazey dreampop textures that the band seems capable of. After that, it did come together a bit more, especially on a song with an Automatic-era JAMC drum pattern that felt more naturally integrated. This tantalized, but was ultimately not quite satisfying. But I'm certain I'll be seeing this band again.

9 p.m.: Horse Lords @ The Great Hall

And then I strolled down Dovercourt to the Great Hall, walking up past David Waldman's photo tribute to Chris Levoir (now gone from us a year already) in the main stairway. The pictures were bursting with life, but seeing them left a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Are bad vibes following me? On a day where I was thinking about the festival's steamroller sensibility, my disposition could not have been improved by going to Tad Michalak's Burn Down the Capital showcase, a show — to put it plainly — that was more or less ruined by being part of NXNE.

The Great Hall was not the right spot for this show. (My understanding is that it had originally been booked elsewhere, but the festival moved it.) The space was too big for the crowd that was on hand and the feeling decidedly off. Last year, Michalak did a couple NXNE shows at Double Double Land, and the festival felt minimally intrusive on the proceedings. But here, there were extraneous volunteers standing around and shills (er, "brand ambassadors") for some awful water-flavouring chemicals working the floor.

At least that enhanced the crowd — which was less than twenty people by my count as I walked in with Baltimore's Horse Lords taking the stage. There'd be about twice that for the next spot, but even at its busiest this still could have easily fit in more intimate space. Not only was this competing with everything else at the festival, I have no doubt that some segment of the sort of people that would normally go to a show like this were put off by the very fact it was part of the festival.

Oh well. There was still some good music to be had. Horse Lords brought a rigorous instrumental krautrock groove, guit/bass/drums augmented by swingman Andrew Bernstein's alternating between second drumkit and saxophone. There were hints of prog-funk here and there (one song sounded like it could have been the theme music to the German version of The A-Team), but at its best it stripped away all excess adornments, such as one song that held a pattern in place for long enough that it went from hypnotizing to mildly awkward and back into hypnotizing. Strong stuff.

Listen to a track from this set here.

10 p.m.: Guerilla Toss @ The Great Hall

I didn't know much about Boston's Guerilla Toss besides the fact that they're on NNA Tapes, which has a solid rep. They also apparently had just at least a tiny bit of "buzz", as the crowd on hand temporarily nearly doubled as they took the stage. Their set would turn out to be a sort of spazz-noise groove-off, and would have been incredibly fun in a small, crowded room. As it was, the band made their peace with the situation by quickly inviting the entire crowd to join them on stage to dance. With bassist Simon Hanes hopping down to the floor to start herding people up, nearly half the crowd took them up on it, making it look like they'd assembled their own little crowded kitchen party. Soon, everyone was learning choreographed dance moves.

The on-stage dancers were then dispatched back to the floor and instructed to join hands and make a circle around the people who hadn't gone up on stage, and the next song ended up as a sort of freakazoid ring-around-the-rosie game, and rather a surreal sight with the band trying to suggest improvised variations from the stage. That made it more memorable as a spectacle than a musical experience, but it added some much-needed levity to the evening.

Listen to a track from this set here.

11 p.m.: Many Arms with Colin Fisher @ The Great Hall

Much of the festival-hopping crowd that'd showed up for Guerilla Toss split at that point, leaving the room barren once again for Philadelphia's Many Arms. This was not an overwhelming homecoming for saxophonist Colin Fisher, who was touring with the trio after joining them for their recently-released Suspended Definition, which was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label.

As the set led off, Fisher and guitarist Nick Millevoi joked that this was going to be their "rock set", and indeed they came with rock'n'roll verve and volume. That would be the delivery system for their jazz-skronk improvisation tactics, sounding something like a version of heavy metal as refracted by Sonny Sharrock's shredding and the rhythmic suggestions of Miles' "Directions".

Playing continuously, the band built up to a first peak of excitement, and then the rhythm section dropped out, leaving Millevoi and Fisher to shred off each other, swinging the set from musicality to whistling kettle whitenoise. As that ended and the band kicked back in, rather unusually, the sound tech stepped onto the stage and turned down the guitar amp by quite a lot. This took Millevoi by surprise, and all at once deflated that bubble of being "in the moment" as some jawing back and forth occurred. The breach of protocol was too much for Fisher to bear (perhaps feeling that he was offering his bandmates a less-than-flattering look at his hometown) and he took to the mic to abruptly end the set. That this was the final night of their tour was probably made this feel all the more deflating for them. The abbreviated set lasted just past fifteen minutes.

Are bad vibes following me? That abrupt ending also definitely felt like it shut the evening down, and with apologies to Australia's Kirin J Callinan (who was scheduled to play last) it just felt like it was time to get gone from there.

Still to come: petitions, visions of festivals that could be, total darkness, and more.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #50

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.

Non-gigs of the week:

The City's In Flame! / Toronto Public Library (Fort York Branch) 2014-06-25 (Wednesday – free!) [FB event]

Untold Noise / This is Here Now / We Are The Heart Of This Town / CineCycle 2014-06-26 (Thursday – PWYC! Free Beer!) [FB event]

Lots of great gigs this week, but the placing of these two events on consecutive nights — a rough jumble of our city's musical past and present — makes it irresistible to highlight them. The City's In Flame! is an "exciting program of archival gems and rarely seen work explores a mix of music and queer themes, drawing some kind of through-line that began in the gay roots of art/punk rock and burst outward from there. Curated by musician/photographer Don Pyle." Untold Noise, meanwhile, is here-and now and explores "Toronto's noise punk community and the city’s place within the music industry as an emerging mecca of creativity and art." (It's also accompanied by T.O. Video King Colin Medley's This Is Here Now, a trip to Sackville's Stereophonic Festival.) Witness/document/celebrate!

This week's noteworthy shows:

Amen Dunes (Alex Calder / Wicked Witches / Milk Lines) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-06-23 (Monday) [FB event]

Lina Allemano/Cheryl O/Chris Adriaanse/Jake Oelrichs / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-24 (Tuesday)

Somewhere There presents (Ken Aldcroft/Scott Thomson / Ronda Rindone's Quorum) / Array Space 2014-06-24 (Tuesday)

Arnd Jurgensen with Bob Vespaziani, Guy LeBlanc, Matthew Poulekakis and friends / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-25 (Wednesday)

Sounds of Thought: Improvised Music Event (feat. Jonathan Adjemian, Nobuo Kubota, Mani Mazinani, Michael Snow) / Array Space 2014-06-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

Flat Earth Society (Fat As Fuck) / Jam Factory 2014-06-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

The Ryan Driver Sextet / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-27 (Friday)

HYPERLINK v1.0 ["a thirty minute audio-video experience"] (feat. music by ZONES / Ylang Ylang Ft. Hazy Montagne Mystique / Bile Sister / Lido Pimienta) / Double Double Land 2014-06-27 (Friday) [more info]

Fritz Helder / Harbourfront Centre (W------ Stage) 2014-06-28 (Saturday – free!) [more info]

Teleportoise (Saprophyte / TROG / Azimuth) / The Cavern Bar 2014-06-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Two Koreas (Moonwood / Several Futures [debut show!]) / Smiling Buddha 2014-06-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Famous Wildlife Movies / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Alterna-Queer (feat. Hervana / Unfinished Business / Sister Hyde / Zoo Owl / Pantychrist / Ginger Coyote with Sid's Kids / Lydia Lunch and Retrovirus / Pansy Division) / Alexander Parkette 2014-06-29 (Sunday – free!) [more info]

WorldPride 2014 Toronto Closing Ceremony (feat. Tegan and Sara / Rich Aucoin / Ce Ce Peniston + more) / Yonge-Dundas Square 2014-06-29 (Sunday – free!) [more info]

Lîla presents: Experiments in Play ["exploring the intersection of sound and movement art forms"] / Majlis Art Garden 2014-06-29 (Sunday) [FB event]

The Kyle Brenders Large Ensemble / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-29 (Sunday – early!)

King Weather / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-29 (Sunday)

Add these to your calendar:

Actual Water [record release!] (Young Guv / Cellphone / Wild Highways) / Smiling Buddha 2014-06-30 (Monday) [FB event]

coexisDance presents: From the Handbook [stories and poems with music and dance] / Majlis Art Garden 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [FB event]

Audiopollination #20 (feat. Diane Roblin/Heather Segger / David Lee/Phill Albert / Arthur Bull/Raphael Weinroth-Browne / Diane Roblin/David Lee/Arthur Bull) / Array Space 2014-07-08 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Ossington Rippers (The Island Years ["brand new act feat. members of Wilderness of Manitoba + Ohbijou"] / The Cool Hands / Gold Pony) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-07-10 (Thursday) [FB event]

Lunchmeat (Dregs / Planet Creature / Dead Messenger) / The Magpie Taproom 2014-07-11 (Friday) [FB event]

DETH [compilation release party!] (feat. SINS / SARIN / Vierance / HUREN) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-07-12 (Saturday) [FB event]

Man Forever & So Percussion (Music In The Barns performs Nicole Lizee / Gordon Monahan) / The Jam Factory 2014-07-13 (Sunday) [FB event]

Chain & The Gang (Ed Schrader's Music Beat) / Smiling Buddha 2014-08-05 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Spencer Burton (Nick Ferrio / EONS) / Trinity-Bellwoods Park 2014-08-06 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Album corner:

A couple noteworthy things just up on Bandcamp, available in the vibe of your choice: uplifting or scuzzy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

NXNE 2014: Preview (Part II)

Yesterday, I looked at some of the best showcases to check out if you're staying put. Today, here's a whole list of good stuff to check out if you're hopping from venue to venue. You can always search through the tag cloud at the right to find more stuff about most of these bands.

With NXNE boasting such huge numbers of bands every year, you have to accept that you're not going to see everything — and, realistically, you can't even research everything. At least that's the case for me. But in a general effort to reduce the unknown unknowns, I'm putting down a list of bands that I feel confident recommending for you. These are all bands that I've seen before, many more than once. And to back up my claims, I've included live recordings so you can judge for yourself what you're getting into.


Mod Club Theatre, Friday, June 20 @ 9 PM; Yonge Dundas Square, Saturday, June 21 @ 6:30 PM

After a long wait, the band's album (filled to the brim with C-86 style delights) is getting reissued to a wider audience. For a couple years now, the band has been hanging around the corners of the room like a shy teenager at a sock-hop, but it looks like they're getting ready to leap onto the dancefloor.
Listen! Alvvays - Party Police

Andre Ethier

Smiling Buddha, Thursday, June 19 @ 10 PM

This former Deadly Snake/current painter doesn't take the stage all that much these days, so it's always worth seeking out — especially as he has a whole bunch of as-yet-unreleased songs filling up his set, and some of the city's best musicians playing behind him.
Listen! Andre Ethier - Pride of Egypt

Ark Analog

Wrongbar, Friday, June 20 @ 1 AM; Tattoo, Saturday, June 21 @ 11 PM

There's no laptop and no safety net when Maylee Todd and Woodhands' Dan Werb get together. That means things might just go wrong. But even when they do, they're also going so, so right — which might explain why you're dancing.
Listen! Ark Analog - Was That It?

Army Girls

M-- Squirtcar, Wednesday, June 18 @ 12:30 AM; Lee's Palace, Friday, June 20 @ 9 PM

DIANA's much-lauded album and world-conquering tours were an inconvenient obstacle to local crowds who'd gotten used to a steady stream of bracing sets from Carmen Elle and Andy Smith. But the electric alchemy of an Army Girls show is back on a stage near you. Don't miss one of the city's finer guitar heroes and songwriters in action.
Listen! Army Girls - The End of Days


Silver Dollar Room, Thursday, June 19 @ 2 AM

Late-night specialists B-17 channelled their Stooge wah-ing energy into the psych bursts that populated their album — and then didn't take long to come up with a whole new set's worth of material, which you can check out in their natural environment.
Listen! B-17 - The Girl With the Raven Hair


The Horseshoe Tavern, Saturday, June 21 @ 10:30 PM

The spirit of the Rheostatics lives on in Dave Bidini's band, which freely mixes shaggy rock, epic solos, widescreen Canadiana and prog structures. It might fall down and it might soar away.
Listen! Bidiniband - The Land Is Wild

Bloodshot Bill

M-- Squirtcar, Thursday, June 19 @ 10:30 PM; Lee's Palace, Thursday, June 19 @ 1 AM; M for 159 Manning Friday, June 20 @ 1 PM

With a snort and a holler, Bloodshot Bill evokes the pure greasy spirit of elemental rock'n'roll.
Listen! Bloodshot Bill - Stop!

Carl Didur

NXNE Festival Village at Edward Day Gallery, Sunday, June 22 @ 1 PM

One of the city's true musical geniuses (recently getting some well-deserved attention for his work with Zacht Automaat), Carl Didur constructs folds in the fabric of spacetime with little more than a beat up rhythm machine, vintage synths and a reel to reel unit.
Listen! Carl Didur - [last section]


The Horseshoe Tavern, Wednesday, June 18 @ 10 PM; St. James Gazebo, Saturday, June 21 @ 1 PM)

Fans of the sort of infinitely scalable jangle jams popularized by Real Estate will find a lot to love in this local unit.
Listen! Elsa - In Two

Giant Hand

Handlebar, Friday, June 20 @ 9 PM

Kirk Ramsay sometimes seems to hide in the shadows as much as one of the outcasts that he sings about, but if you can find him on a stage his fragile, intimate, Daniel Johnston-inspired songs will stick with you.
Listen! Giant Hand - unknown

The Golden Dogs

Rivoli, Saturday, June 21 @ 11 PM

Hey: if you can't dig yourself some superbly crafted, Beatles-y power-pop, then just turn in your bellbottoms at the front desk.
Listen! The Golden Dogs - Do It For You


Bovine Sex Club, Wednesday, June 18 @ 11 PM

Seriously committed shredding meets DIY Spinal Tap — witness the spectacle of a party being born all around you.
Listen! HotKid - unknown

The Jessica Stuart Few

Rancho Relaxo, Thursday, June 19 @ 8 PM

A serene island of sophisticated pop, Jessica Stuart's Joni-esque compositions are framed with her beautiful koto playing.
Listen! The Jessica Stuart Few - Kid Dream


NXNE Festival Village at Edward Day Gallery, Thursday, June 19 @ 11 PM

As the strobe lights flicker, you see a figure in leather gloves, hunched over, up to something. It can't be good. Maybe you should get out of here. Fuck that, you know you're going to stay, bub, no matter what he does to you. You came here searching for the menace, and you found it.
Listen! Kontravoid - Expulsions

Maica Mia

The Garrison, Wednesday, June 18 @ 9 PM; Handlebar, Wednesday, June 18 @ 1 AM; NXNE Festival Village at Edward Day Gallery, Thursday, June 19 @ 9 PM

Formerly sleep-rock specialists in the vein of Picastro or Mazzy Star, Montréal's Maica Mia still bring some elements of that, but their recent Des Era adds a bit of rumbling propulsion to their sound.
Listen! Maica Mia - Jonny-o


Baltic Avenue, Thursday, June 19 @ 12 AM

Explore the psych-rock caverns deep under the surface of distant planets. Listen to the mysterious incantations murmuring from distant temples gilded with zinc. Breath the atmosphere — say, does that taste like argon? — of MIMICO.
Listen! Mimico - Doses

Nick Ferrio & His Feelings

The Silver Dollar Room, Wednesday, June 18 @ 9 PM

Peterborough's Nick Ferrio promises a "rock band" version of his countrified laments for his NXNE set, with pals Steve Lambke, Ian Kehoe and Robin Love joining him on stage. But he'll still be evoking the spirit of a wandering troubadour.
Listen! Nick Ferrio - Half the Time

Odonis Odonis

Yonge Dundas Square, Thursday, June 19 @ 5:30 PM; The Garrison, Thursday, June 19 @ 1 AM

Moving up to the big stage at YDS, these surfgaze crunchers will be showing off both their hard boiled and soft boiled sides.
Listen! Odonis Odonis - Muscle

Omar Souleyman

V--- Island, Thursday, June 19 @ 7:15 PM; Yonge Dundas Square, Friday, June 20 @ 6:30 PM

One of the most exciting "gets" for the festival is a Syrian wedding singer, undemonstrative behind his aviator shades, wagging his finger as he declaims his love songs to electronic dabke beats and a snaky synth burble. Hypnotizing, dronified dance grooves, this is a festival must-see.
Listen! Omar Souleyman - Leh Jani

Patti Cake

Silver Dollar Room, Friday, June 20 @ 2 AM

If it's true that sunshine is the best disinfectant, than this ebullient rock'n'soul combo (fronted by Kritty Uranowski) is bound to be good for what ails your spirit.
Listen! Patti Cake - Diamonds

PS I Love You

Mod Club Theatre, Thursday, June 19 @ 9 PM; Bruise Cruise, Saturday, June 21 @ 3:30 PM

Gorgeous guitar solos express everything that's left over from Paul Saulnier's words. There's a new album in the can, so expect to hear some of the ace new material at these shows.
Listen! PS I Love You - In My Mind

Shannon and the Clams

M-- Squirtcar, Thursday, June 19 @ 9:30 PM; Lee's Palace, Thursday, June 19 @ 12 AM

I once saw this band compress Del Shannon's "Runaway" into a pedal-to-floor dragrace here and gone in a manner of seconds. They do that with their own songs, too, leaving sweat-drenched dancefloors in their wake. Turbocharged rock'n'roll joy.
Listen! Shannon and the Clams - unknown

Unfinished Business

Smiling Buddha, Saturday, June 21 @ 6 PM; NXNE Festival Village at Edward Day Gallery, Sunday, June 22 @ 8 PM

Though still in their teens, this trio already has a few years under their belts, performing short songs about epic fails and haunted houses plus a few punk covers that blast like confetti cannons.
Listen! Unfinished Business - Haunted House + Superpowers

Viet Cong

Smiling Buddha, Thursday, June 19 @ 12 AM; The Horseshoe Tavern, Friday, June 20 @ 10 PM

Sporting an impressive Calgary pedigree (members have served in the now-defunct Women and Chad VanGaalen's band), Viet Cong rewire the proto-punk/postpunk past, sounding at some points like Mission of Burma covering "Lady Godiva's Operation" and at others grooving like a Wire-y Psychedelic Furs.
Listen! Viet Cong - Oxygen Feed

You'll Never Get To Heaven

Silver Dollar Room, Thursday, June 19 @ 11 PM

Meditative synth grooves create pensive poptones. DIY and hand-crafted live on stage, this is more head-nodding than body shaking, but the sound will still envelop you most warmly.
Listen! You'll Never Get to Heaven - By This River

Young Mother

Smiling Buddha, Saturday, June 21 @ 12 AM; NXNE Festival Village at Edward Day Gallery, Sunday, June 22 @ 4 PM

After taking some time to focus on the more pop-friendly Blonde Elvis, Jesse James Laderoute returns to his brooding krautrock/postpunk project.
Listen! Young Mother - A Lighter Affair

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NXNE 2014: Preview (Part I)

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the North by Northeast (NXNE) festival appears to be feeling its oats — and willing to throw its weight around a little. When longstanding rival Canadian Music Week moved itself springward by several weeks, NXNE reacted by instituting — and enforcing — a strict radius clause to prevent bands from playing both. To be honest, I'm generally pretty okay with sticking it to CMW (which is a strange spectacle with its radio awards and out-of-time industry vibe) but that radius clause would become a point of contention for many in the inter-festival period, keeping many lower-profile bands needlessly off local stages for an extended time.

On top of that, NXNE quietly doubled the prices of its wristband, pushing it up to a hefty $150 for customers with the temerity to wait and actually see what bands are playing the festival. As far as I can tell, that did not come with a corresponding doubling of the fees paid to the bulk of the artists. Like me, you might prefer a little more egalitarianism in your festival experience — but as has now been quite famously explained, the festival isn't a democracy. So I guess you can like it or you can lump it and let your dollars vote on whether that's too much of a hit to the wallet for an extended weekend's entertainment.

Kvetching aside, there are some promising things as well. First and foremost, as ever, it's hard to gather this many bands together and not accumulate some gems — and compared to CMW it looks like there's a lot less dross to be avoided. Also, there's a welcome spotlight on all-ages shows, with both daytime and nighttime events welcoming the younger set. And, whether it's through increased coolness or demographic change, there's a refreshing breath of fresh air surrounding the festival's headline acts. Just because of the sort of vibe I dig, I tend not to go to/recommend the free spectaculars at Yonge-Dundas Square, but it's hard not to be impressed to see a generational shift, with far fewer reunions/dinosaur acts on stage, with names such as St. Vincent and Spoon topping the bills (and a couple awesomely head-scratching left-field choices like Swans and Omar Souleyman in the mix as well).

As always, there's way more to take in during NXNE than I could possibly wrap my head around. There's a lot of good bands spread over a full slate of showcases from Wednesday to Sunday, so you're not hurting for options. Wondering what to see? As always, skip the unloved official "schedulizer" and head over to the gridtacular Showgopher, with streamable music from pretty much everyone playing the fest. Also keep an eye out for all the free official and unofficial events. Tomorrow, I'll present a heaping helping of bands that it'd be worth seeing if you're skipping around from place to place [now posted here!], but for today I'll start with a whole bunch of shows that it would be worth going to if you wanted to settle at one spot all night long.

N.B. All samples below are live recordings from my previously-posted field excursions, and should give you some idea of what to expect from these artists.

Wednesday, June 18

Burn Down The Capital @ The Great Hall
Horse Lords (9 PM) / Guerilla Toss (10 PM) / Many Arms With Colin Fisher (11 PM) / Kirin J Callinan (midnite)

Burn Down the Capital's Tad Michalak (also known for his work with the Feast In The East series) is this town's go-to guy for bringing out-exploring musicians to the city. So even if half this bill are strangers to me, I'm more than willing to go in with an open mind and discover something new. As for the other half, I can vouch for the power of Horse Lords' kraut jams, and while I've never seen Philly improv spazzers Many Arms in action, the fact that they're touring a new album recorded with local sax hero Colin Fisher makes it a must-see.

A few selected words on what to expect: freak jazz prog punk... slithering, caustic tones... industrial textures... slowed down time & space... noise funk... herky jerky rhythms

Buzz Records @ Smiling Buddha
WHIMM (8PM) / Dirty Frigs (9 PM) / Teen Tits Wild Wives (10 PM) / Mexican Slang (11 PM) / Greys (midnite)

These local slop-pop specialists (who'll also be popping up below) have put together a night that has all the qualities of a can of warm pepsi what's been vigourously shaken by a twitchy teenager. Greys are getting plenty attention right now with the release of their debut long player, but this is a solid night throughout.

A few selected words on what to expect: check this junk out

Listen! Teen Tits Wild Wives - Anything Ice
Mexican Slang - Mouthbreather
Greys - Rennie + Carjack

Thursday, June 19

Wavelength @ The Great Hall
ZONES (9 PM) / Twist (10 PM) / White Poppy (11 PM) / Fresh Snow (midnite) / Tim Hecker (1 AM)

In true Wavelength fashion, this is a real sonic mix-up. There's hints of drone/pop in three of the groups to start and end the night, but the middle takes things in some other directions. Fresh off a very tasty tape, I'm looking forward to checking out ZONES' live show, there's some poppier excursions to switch things up and then Fresh Snow and Tim Hecker will be primed to crank up the bliss/volume as they close out the night.

A few selected words on what to expect: heavenly drone... synaptic constellations... oceans of fear, cages of awe, guttural commands imparted from unseen sages... glowing orbs dipping and swaying in a pastoral, twilit expanse... comedown blues for the nostalgic heart

Listen! Twist - unknown
Fresh Snow - Helix Pass
Tim Hecker - Ravedeath at Music Gallery

Massey Hall
Weaves (8 PM) / Tobacco (9 PM) / tUnE-yArDs (10 PM)

It seems like a long way for Merrill Garbus to have moved from playing the 'Shoe (as sampled below) to headlining Massey Hall. That makes her a good role model for local squooshy-beat pop experimentalist Jasmyn Burke, whose Weaves project might be at the start of just such a trajectory. [this is one of a series of somewhat contentious festival gigs at Massey Hall, with the bulk of the seats reserved for wristband/badge holders. Info on how many walk-up spots are available is sketchy to non-existent at the moment.]

Listen! Weaves - Buttercup
Tune-Yards - Gangsta

Friday, June 20

Tin Angel @ The Drake Underground
Devon Sproule (7 PM) / Bernice (8 PM) / John Southworth (9 PM) / Marker Starling (10 PM) / Trembling Bells (11 PM)

With its affinity for thoughtful, slightly off-kilter pop, it's no surprise that Coventry, England's Tin Angel Records has become the UK home for several local musicians of note. That means when the label has a chance to bring some members of its roster over here it's like a reunion of long-distance cousins.

Listen! Devon Sproule - Colours
Bernice - Body Motivation
Marker Starling - Childman

Hand Drawn Dracula / Artificial Records @ The Garrison
North America (8 PM) / Tiers (9 PM) / Weeknight (10 PM) / Beliefs (11 PM) / Crystal Stilts (midnite) / DOOMSQUAD (1 AM) / Wish (2 AM)

Local label Hand Drawn Dracula has a very good track record of incubating new talent, and is bringing out its art/experimental sub-imprint Artificial along for the ride on this night. A certain mood of detached decadence will be accentuated with NYC guests Crystal Stilts in the headlining slot. A sang froid dance party a go-go.

Bonus! HDD has a new summer sampler that you can stream/download!

Listen! Beliefs - Leave With You
Crystal Stilts - Future Folklore
Doom Squad - Born from the Marriage of the Moon and a Crocodile + Eternal Return
Wish - unknown

Just Shows @ Smiling Buddha
Boyhood [members of White Wires] (8 PM) / Tess Parks (9 PM) / Dusted (10 PM) / Juan Wauters [ex-The Beets] (11 PM) / Ketamines (midnite) / Death Hymn #9 (1 AM) / Nice Head (2 AM) / Pet Sun (3 AM)

All credit to local booker Mark Pesci, who is building up something nice over at Smiling Buddha. I could have listed any the of three shows he's put together on Thursday/Friday/Saturday — there's a lot of goodness here, and no doubt a lot of discoveries to be made. As a bonus, Thursday and Friday's shows are all-ages affairs — as is an unofficial, top-secret wrap-up gig on Sunday night.

Listen! Dusted - Property Lines
Ketamines - Line By Line + Double Elevens

Saturday, June 21

Buzz Records Day Party @ The Great Hall
Bambara (noon) / New Positions (12:30 PM) / Mexican Slang (1:30 PM) / Ancient Ocean (1:40 PM) / Weaves (2:10 PM) / Stüka (2:50 PM) / HSY (3:20 PM) / Huren (4 PM) / Perfect Pussy (4:30 PM) / Anamai (5:20 PM)

I'm leaving you on your own for Saturday night [not entirely true! plenty of bands will pointed out tomorrow!] but the best place to settle in for non-stop good times arrives in the afternoon at this two stage, all ages spectacular.

Listen! New Positions - unknown
Hussy - Ladies Nite
ANAMAI - 50% Pizza

Sunday, June 21

NeXT @ The Silver Dollar Room
The Auras (8 PM) / Loose Pistons (9 PM) / Courtney Barnett (10 PM) / Tess Parks (11 PM)

Dan Burke's triple-header spectacular has shifted by a day, so now you can end your festival by checking out three-night headliner Courtney Barnett. I don't know much about the Australian, but Burke has a very strong record of filling this slot with someone who comes to the festival as an unknown and leaves as the talk of the town. And though I didn't list them here, you can be assured that his other nights on Friday and Saturday are always a safe port in the storm if you don't know where to take yourself.

Listen! The Auras - Desert Dream (Nothing Is Real)
Tess Parks - Life Is But A Dream

Tomorrow: Plenty more recommendations, skewed to the show-hoppers. [now posted here!]

Monday, June 16, 2014

Concert Listings Roundup #49

You can read more about why I'm doing listings here. Long story short: This curated and decidedly non-comprehensive list contains nothin' but shows that I am going to/would go to if I had more time.

N.B.: There's a smattering of NXNE events here, but for anyone not "doing" the festival, everything below works as a stand-alone event — and if you're intent on avoiding it altogether, there's still plenty of options. For those who are diving into NXNE, look for previews tomorrow and Wednesday.

Gig of the week:

"M for 159 Manning": 159 Manning BBQ 2014 – Part 2 (feat. Bloodshot Bill / Beliefs / Twist / Soft Hell / allie / Light Fires / Death Hymn Number 9 / Sacred Harp Shape Note Singers / Xiu Xiu / Invasions / Canailles / Old Man Canyon / KC Accidental) / 159 Manning 2014-06-20 (Friday) [FB event]

This casual hootenanny has long been a highlight of the NXNE festival, but it still seems more than a little crazy/amazing that this is now an official event. Featuring some bands that normally play much bigger venues than living rooms and backyards, this is a wonderful day out. If you hurry, you might still be able to grab a ticket for this, but I wouldn't wait around if you're curious. And don't be surprised if your post-festival top picks include classic Appalachian Shape Note singers.

This week's noteworthy shows:

Stop Time ["Toronto Chapter"]) / The Emmet Ray 2014-06-19 (Monday – pay what you want!) [more info]

Henry Adam Svec (Laura Barrett) / Holy Oak Café 2014-06-17 (Tuesday) [FB event]

The Shift ["radical filmmaking" with live music by Carol Gimbel & Music in the Barns Chamber Ensemble and LAL] / The Drake Underground 2014-06-17 (Tuesday) [FB event]

Biblical / Grasshopper Records 2014-06-18 (Wednesday – all ages! free!)

Burn Down the Capital @ NXNE (feat. Many Arms with Colin Fisher / Kirin J Callinan / Horse Lords / Guerilla Toss) / The Great Hall 2014-06-18 (Wednesday) [FB event]

Juney Blooms Rustlin' June (feat. Ian Russell / Hoover Party / New Chance) ["playing sets alone and together throughout the night"] / Holy Oak Café 2014-06-18 (Wednesday)

Buzz Records @ NXNE (feat. WHIMM / Dirty Frigs / Teen Tits Wild Wives / Mexican Slang / Greys / Beta Frontiers) / 2014-06-18 (Wednesday – all ages!) [FB event]

POP Montreal + NeXT @ NXNE (feat. Diamond Bones / Look Vibrant / Language-Arts / You'll Never Get to Heaven / Julie Fader / • Seoul • / B-17 / Heat) / The Silver Dollar Room 2014-06-19 (Thursday) [FB event]

Wavelength 603 @ NXNE (feat. Tim Hecker / Fresh Snow / White Poppy / Twist / Zones) / The Great Hall 2014-06-19 (Thursday) [FB event]

Dust ["The Quietest Big Band in the Known World"] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-20 (Friday – early!)

Pete Johnston Trio / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-20 (Friday)

Nhapitapi Mbira / The Island Café 2014-06-20 (Friday) [more info]

Mary-Margaret O'Hara & Rusty MacCarthy / Musideum 2014-06-20 (Friday) [more info]

Hand Drawn Dracula/Artificial Records @ NXNE (feat. North America / Tiers / Weeknight / Beliefs / Crystal Stilts / DOOMSQUAD / Wish) / The Garrison 2014-06-20 (Friday) [FB event]

Buzz Records @ NXNE (feat. BAMBARA / Mexican Slang / Weaves / HSY / Perfect Pussy / New Positions / Ancient Ocean / STÜKA / HUREN/ ANAMAI / Black Walls) / 2014-06-21 (Saturday – Day Party! Two stages! All ages!) [FB event]

NXNE: BRUISE CRUISE 2014 (feat. PS I Love You / Calvin Love / Walter TV / The Postez) / Captain Matthew Flinders 2014-06-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

Chart Attack presents: Free NXNE In-Store (feat. Creep Highway / Beta Frontiers / Cities Aviv / Dusted) / Sonic Boom 2014-06-21 (Saturday Matinée! Free! All ages!) [FB event]

BOFF Afternoon BBQ (feat. Monomyth / Wild Highways / CTZNSHP / The Dead Projectionists / Slow Down Molasses / Eamon McGrath) / Saving Gigi 2014-06-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

Summer Melt: Unofficial Summer Music Festival Rager (feat. Cellphone / Teenanger / Petra Glynt / Ice Cream / Toronto Homicide Squad / DAS RAD / Wrong Hole) / Soybomb HQ 2014-06-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

Riverrun [Tomorrow Island vinyl release!] / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-21 (Saturday) [FB event]

Somewhere There presents (feat. The Artsy Chicks / Joe Sorbara's Abakos) / Array Space 2014-06-21 (Saturday)

Of Sound Mind (feat. Wish / Unfinished Business / Sonic Avenues / Young Mother / Greys / Carl Didur / Wizard Of) / Edward Day Gallery 2014-06-22 (Sunday – matinée! PWYC! all ages!) [FB event]

Chart Attack presents: Free NXNE In-Store (feat. Weaves / Courtney Barnett / Army Girls / Baby Eagle) / Sonic Boom 2014-06-22 (Sunday Matinée! Free! All ages!) [FB event]

UNAFFILIATED 01 (feat. Zacht Automaat / Petra Glynt / Special Costello / BABY CAGES / Old and Weird / Man Made Hill / Craig Currie / Secret Special Guest) / Artscape Gibraltar Point 2014-06-22 (Sunday) [FB event]

Add these to your calendar:

Lina Allemano/Cheryl O/Chris Adriaanse/Jake Oelrichs / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-24 (Tuesday)

Somewhere There presents (Ken Aldcroft/Scott Thomson / Ronda Rindone's Quorum) / Array Space 2014-06-24 (Tuesday)

Flat Earth Society (Fat As Fuck) / Jam Factory 2014-06-26 (Thursday) [FB event]

The Two Koreas (Moonwood / Several Futures [debut show!]) / Smiling Buddha 2014-06-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Famous Wildlife Movies / The Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge) 2014-06-28 (Saturday) [FB event]

Happy America Day (feat. Darlene Shrugg) / Double Double Land 2014-07-04 (Friday) [FB event]

Dany Laj and The Looks (The Bawdy Electric) / 3030 2014-07-04 (Friday – free!) [FB event]

Feast In The East 39 with Silent Shout (feat. Silkken Laumann / No Breakup / Most People / Memorex) / Jam Factory 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [FB event]

The Artsy Chicks (Mimico / Clara Engel / BABEL) / The Cavern Bar 2014-07-05 (Saturday) [FB event]

Los Van Van [Cuban salsa legends] / Nathan Phillips Square 2014-07-12 (Saturday – free! all ages!) [more info]