Thursday, July 23, 2015

Recording: Digits

Artist: Digits

Song: Street Violence

Recorded at Harbourfront Centre – Lakefront Terrace ("Harbourfront SoundClash" finals), July 11, 2015.

Digits - Street Violence

Harbourfront's SoundClash contest has always seemed like a bit of an odd beast to me. Stuck with the baggage of a million cruddy Battle of The Bands, the whole thing feels vaguely opaque. (Who's behind this, and why? What's being judged — a band's conceptual "talent", or this particular live performance? How are the winners picked? If the festival brags about the quality of its judges, why does it keep them anonymous? Does the online balloting really matter, or is it populist window-dressing? Should online voting count when almost no-one saw the actual competition? Doesn't that inherently favour the net-savvy, or bands with pre-existing and motivated fanbases, who will click on a vote link spread through social media?) I'd never gotten involved with the whole event before, but given the undoubtable across-the-board quality of the five finalists this year, I decided to check it out.

Another weirdness: given the not-insubstantial sum invested in prize money, one would have thought this would have been set up to garner as much attention as possible instead of being tucked away. Shuffled into the Lakeside Terrace on a busy weekend, the performance environment discouraged passers-by from stopping to check it out, and was more than a little sterile — but at least it was equally so for all of the bands. That said, it also gave everyone a chance to play in a technically-controlled environment, and the three sets I saw all sounded very good. (Note to Harbourfront: this is a really nice room to see a band in — why not host some gigs here on non-super-busy summer weekends?) Rather than a contest to win the affection of the masses, the vibe here was old-fashioned "industry" — a closed-off showcase for artists to impress a secret cabal. It's to the musicians' credit that they still managed to spark some energy and give good performances.

The room's clean sound suited Alt Altman's sleek electropop very well, and (with the assistance of synthologist Dan Miller) he delivered a technically-impressive performance. But even though Altman took advantage of the wireless mic to shimmy around on stage, the brightly-lit room with a small, seated crowd definitely worked against the late-night decadent-disco vibe that his music usually evokes. A bit of a draw, then, but the strong material definitely came across well enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment