Sunday, January 03, 2010

Favourite shows and performances, 2009.

Here's a couple lists for your perusal. I've linked to my original reviews (if they exist). A pretty good year of show-going for me!

Favourite shows (chronological order):

The Tom Fun Orchestra, Bruce Peninsula, and The Darcys @ The Horseshoe, 31 Jan.
What I wrote then: "It was, as Tyler predicted, 'a real barnburner.' BP was excellent, as expected, but Tom Fun . . . oh my, what a show! They played for nearly an hour and a half, including two encore sets. Wild. Loads of fun."

Cuff the Duke, Elliott BROOD, Basia Bulat, Herman Dune, and Jon-Rae Fletcher @ Lee's Palace, 14 Mar.
This CMW showcase was the only show I caught during the festival. Although sound troubles (especially during Basia Bulat) annoyed me, the short sets in this case actually worked really well for this show. Five great bands that I would happily see anytime.

Green Go (CD release) w/ The Magic and Everything All The Time @ Wrongbar, 30 Apr.
It was pouring with rain this Thursday night, but Green Go still managed to pack Wrongbar for what was perhaps the indie dance party night of the year.

Steamboat (2 sets; EP release) w/ Andre Ethier, Sandro Perri, Mantler, Alex Lukashevsky, $100 (duet), and Doug Paisley @ Sneaky Dee's, 16 May.
Impressive, awesome, and damn hard to beat. The guests were brilliant; I don't really want to see them guys perform without proper backing bands again.
Listen to Steamboat's take on "Can You Picture That?" by Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem from that night.

Rock Plaza Central @ Tranzac (Southern Cross Lounge), 25 May.
What I wrote then: "Monday night I got word that Rock Plaza Central was doing an intimate performance at midnight at the Tranzac’s front room. A few minutes into the release day of their new album, the 6-piece band played an hour-long (at least) set to no more than 25 audience members. Yawd Sylvester joined them on piano for a couple songs. Near the end of the show, the band’s drummer punk-rocked it out, bashing his cymbals to the ground, swearing at his bandmates (in jest, of course), and leaving them to play on. Quite the rousing set by what is essentially a literary folk-rock ensemble. It felt special to be there. Or 'magical,' as Chris Eaton, the band’s front-man, put it."

Zeus w/ Gentleman Reg @ The Dakota Tavern, 15 July.
One of my favourite bands opening for what would then become another of my favourite bands at the wee Dakota. So fun. Even though I did have to wait in the rain for 45 minutes beforehand to get in.

The "Family Band" (ie. Forest City Lovers + The D'Urbervilles) @ Theatre Centre, 13 Aug.
What I wrote then: "The Out Of This Spark show last Thursday---on the day of label owner Stuart Duncan's birthday---was one of the most fun shows I've been to in a while. And also one of the hottest. As in sweltering. OOTS labelmates Forest City Lovers and The D'Urbervilles each played a short set of five songs each. As FCL ended their last song, bassist Kyle Donnelly transitioned seamlessly into "Spin the Bottle," a song by his other band, the D'Urbs. His bandmates joined him on stage---well, on stage and on the floor, where the instruments were set up---snapping their fingers and doing their best to get the (then) seated crowd energized. Soon enough we were standing, dancing, and clapping ourselves. After their short set was done, and after a short break, the D'Urbs and FCL came back together en masse as the 'Family Band.' It was really fun! There was so much energy and excitement in the crowd and on stage (floor, actually)."
Joe also captured some of it for posterity. So did Colin:

Friends in Bellwoods II release party @ Lee's Palace, 29 Aug.
What I wrote then: "I did not expect the musical spectacular that it turned out to be. Silly me."
Joe's take is here.

Maylee Todd & Pegwee Power, The Wilderness of Manitoba, and The Weather Station @ Sneaky Dee's, 31 Aug.
Could this Wavelength show have been programmed just for me? It'd be hard to put together a better bill of local bands and lovely people. If you don't know these bands, get on it. You won't be disappointed (I hope).

Julie Doiron and Herman Dune @ Lee's Palace, 27 Oct.
What I wrote then: "David's songs . . . are personal and a little chatty, kinda folky---or, 'anti-folk,' as they call themselves---but mostly popy. So, tailor made for me to fall in love with them (and I did when I saw them at Lee's back in March). It was a strong set, helped by Julie joining in singing duties for the last couple songs. I was impressed with the band's ability to really rock out given their instrumental limitations. The extended versions of the songs they performed were great, and really got the crowd revved up for the main event. In fact, the post-performance cheering was unlike anything I've heard before for a mid-show band: long and loud with many shouts of 'encore!' It was not to be."
And: "The whole thing was really something else. I was counting songs, the good reviewer that I am, and so was aware that we were getting rather more than normal. Julie's tunes run shorter than most, but still. The show ran the gamut from soft and sweet (and nearly heart-breaking) to hard-rocking awesomeness. As I left the venue, I overheard one bouncer comment to another, 'An hour 45 [minutes]---fans got their money's worth.' Indeed. Wow."
What Joe thought.

Favourite individual performances (chronological order):

The Happiness Project by Charles Spearin @ The Music Gallery, 12 Mar.
I caught a snippet of this show being aired on AUX TV over the break, and remember just how awesome it was. A neat record, and a really stunning live performance on this night in this downtown church.

These Are Powers @ The Silver Dollar Room during NxNE, 19 June.
What I wrote then: "HOLY HECK, their primal electro dance grooves had me dancing like a maniac."

Jon-Rae Fletcher @ Sneaky Dee's, 26 July.
What I wrote then: "It's a rare thing for me to see a band and during the course of the set decide that I must own the record they are promoting. I see a lot of bands, and I enjoy most of them. I like the live concert experience and don't listen to a whole lot of music on my off-time. Jon-Rae got to me, though. It took a few songs, but slowly, and then all of a sudden, I started to feel that I was witnessing a true musical genius. . . . The songs weren't complicated: At one point the trombone player, having to play an unrehearsed song, asked Jon-Rae how it went. The response was, 'it's in G. It's the same as all the other ones.' But the relatively simple arrangements for voice, guitar, bass, and trombone, or else Jon-Rae solo (voice and guitar), grabbed me in a way few bands have. What a wonderful set."

The RAA @ Horseshoe Tavern, 30 July.
This was the band's homecoming after playing SxSW, touring the US, and rereleasing their album on Saddle Creek Records. The sold-out November show at Lee's Palace was awesome too, but by then I fully expected them to be.

Bahamas @ The Mod Club, 15 Oct.
Afie Jurvanen opened for Amy Millan, performing solo. Brilliant swagger and a great crowd.
Sara Collaton captured some of it:

So did Joe.

The Wooden Sky @ Lee's Palace, 13 Nov.
What I wrote then: "It's always nice to see good bands start to get the attention they deserve, and to have them fulfill their promise. Friday night's set was pretty awesome. I can't wait to see the Wooden Sky again . . . though I might not like that I'll have to put up with a larger venue and hundreds more people to do so."

Parlovr @ The Garrison, 22 Nov.
This Sunday night Wavelength show ran pretty late, and I wasn't sure many people would stick around for these relatively unknown out-of-towners. But once the Montreal band started playing, nearly no one left. The word's no doubt getting out. This is a group to watch out for.

Constantines @ Lee's Palace, 19 Dec.
What I wrote then: "It was clear from the get-go that Constantines elicit the kind of response I rarely see at concerts. (I tend not to go to big-ticket ones, though.) By the time the band played 'Young Offenders,' with its shout-out refrain 'Can I get a witness,' the concert was feeling like a religious experience. All around me people were pumping their fists in the air and singing along. Soon enough there was moshing just to my right, and mostly by people who didn't look old enough to have known the band when they first started. . . . Man, being in a rock band looks like so much fun."

Honourable mentions:

Jordaan Mason & the Horse Museum (CD release) w/ Hamilton Trading Co. and Nich Worby @ The Music Gallery, 6 June.
What I wrote then: "Jordaan Mason & the Horse Museum's CD release celebration at the Music Gallery on Saturday was definitely a tear-jerker, especially toward the end. Packed house? Check. Overwhelmed performers and audience members? Check. Standing ovation? Check. Just awesome. Hamilton Trading Co., performing second, sounded great, and their surprising, choreographed opening song made excellent use of the church's acoustics and layout. Nich Worby was endearingly awkward, apologetic about his apologies, and a great opener."

NxNE afterparty w/ Japanther and DD/MM/YYYY @ The Academy of Sciences, 20 June.
What I wrote then: "Wow, was not expecting this!"

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