Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shout out (and recap of my week in shows).

I saw some really good bands and solo acts last week. More proof that, to my mind at least, I've gotten pretty good at sussing out what I like!

On Wednesday at Rancho Relaxo, I caught The Kettle Black for the first time. This is an interesting, different musical project, and one that's definitely worth seeing. A one-man act, Nick had a couple guitars and a bass, a variety of electronic equipment all stacked up beside him, some percussion set up in front of him and to the side, which he used his feet to hit/play. There were high kicks involved in some of this. The stage lights were turned off and candles lit. The small audience, made up mostly of musicians in the other bands playing, it seemed, was forced to take note, and when Nick was done his set, we gave him a rousing---as rousing as maybe 25 people can do---and lengthy applause. Quality stuff, performed with intensity. His set up take a bit, but it's worth the wait.

Download: "Once Upon the Fence" from Was Wollen Sie Mehr? and then head over to The Kettle Black's website to donate money to download more songs.

The next day, Thursday, saw me at the Horseshoe Tavern, where Ruby Coast and Winter Gloves got people dancing . . . and, in the case of Ruby Coast, body-slamming. The latter was a bit unfortunate for me, but the band has this effect on its young fans. Crowd-surfind and moshing are standard, and if you're on the dancefloor, beware. (I learned the hard way before hightailing it to safer ground.) These are really fun bands. Montrealers Winter Gloves put on an energetic live show to complement their electro pop sound. Ruby Coast is poppier, but no less energetic. Check here for a couple song downloads.

A couple friends and I went to Tranzac on Friday to see Forest City Lovers and Geoff Berner. I'd seen Geoff Berner a year earlier, and I laughed so hard it hurt. This time around the set was more musically based than I remember---his band is made up of three performers on this tour---but there were still lots of laughs for his great banter and funny lyrics. He was keen to get a congo line going "in Toronto," and the large, appreciative crowd did not disappoint. There was indeed congo-ing. It was pretty silly. My personal favourite was his "Weep, Bride, Weep" song, which had me in stitches. It's an audience participation ditty, so here's another song that showcases Berner's social commentary / comedy / klezmer-folk style.

Download: "Luck in Exile," a song which I believe Geoff Berner both opened and closed with. Odd, that.

Forest City Lovers are one of my favourite Toronto bands of the quieter variety. (If you like Ohbijou, for example, you'll love this band too.) They are awkwardly charming on-stage, and their albums are stellar, showcasing top-notch songwriting and arrangements. Unfortunately, the band was plagued by sound issues for the first half of its set. (Geoff Berner was also beset with technology problems.) And, in fact, the three times that I've seen this band in the Tranzac's Main Hall have been disappointing because of sound issues! Damnit. I'm gonna hope to see this band perform elsewhere. In the meantime, I will spend lots more time with their recordings.

Download: "Monsters" from 2008's Haunting Moon Sinking.

Whale Tooth's EP release was on Saturday. I've already given shout outs to the two bands I saw that night, here and here (and also here). I missed most of The Balconies's set, but this Ottawa band definitely sounded like a group I need to check out. Sneaky Dee's was pretty packed all night long. Not as much dancing was happening as I would have liked, but Toronto can be like that sometimes. Great show. I like Whale Tooth quite a lot, in spite of my ever-so-slight musical pretension. Their version of pop is just so catchy and the vocals are awesome. Green Go is tops for a live band electro dance session. I look forward to seeing both bands again.

Finally, Sunday. It was my friend's birthday, and he was putting on the show that night at the Boat. The show was part of the Gather Round series, which is hosted / headlined each Sunday by Hamilton Trading Co., Keith Hamilton's choir project with 12 members this particular Sunday night. Preceding HTC was Diamong Rings, the solo project of John O'Regan, the frontman from The D'Urbervilles. What a talent that guy has. He performed a brilliant set that was entirely unassuming, on a borrowed acoustic guitar, sitting on piled-up milk crates. It was a wet night---just warm enough outside for roof snow to be melting and falling in drips into pots and a variety of other containers hanging from and stapled to the Boat's ceiling. Half-way through Diamond Rings' set, the container stapled to the ceiling just to the left of where he was playing collapsed suddenly, heavy with water. The water came crashing down. No harm done to either John (who had a cold) or Keith's baby-blue guitar. And it was thus completely hilarious. After a couple minutes of laughing, the show went on. John finished a song accompanied by occasional drips falling into a bucket. And then Keith stapled the container back to the ceiling, and John continued his set sans further interruption.

Brad Casey (performing as Cigarettes, and accompanied on a couple songs by Keith on saw [!] and on one by Mike Duffield on percussion) performed an intense, moving set of both new and old (for me) material. The choir helped out on the first song, too. This was my favourite time seeing Brad. He's recording new songs, and here's to hoping the finished products will showcase some of the interesting instrumentation we were treated to Sunday night.

And there you have it. My week in music! I should get back into the habit of bringing my camera with me when I go out. Bad lighting be damned, some of these events should really be documented.


nowhere said...

That really big guy at the Ruby Coast show was a little too eager to start the shoving for my taste.

jesi said...

tranzac main hall's sound problems suck. they should buy a new sound systtem and get the awesome bands sounding like they should (awesome)

Steve said...

I had every intention of going to the Boat after the Laugh Sabbath show Sunday, but I ran out of juice. Long weekend.

And now, of course, as I usually do when I bail and head home, I regret it.

I hope Keith will forgive me and come to MY show(s).