Category Archives: Show Reviews

Dreamdecay

Another album on repeat for me over the past couple weeks is Dreamdecay’s new LP called Yú (Iron Lung Records, 2017). It’s the perfect combination of noisy, drum-driven rock tunes. Also picked up this album from Faith/Void.

And here are some shots of the artwork:

I was also lucky enough to catch them a couple weeks ago when they came through Toronto. Here are some photographs from the show:

They played a selection of tracks from the new record and one new track, absolutely killing it and finished off the night with epic “Ian”. Setlist:

    1. No Answer
    2. F.R.A.N.K.
    3. Bass Jam
    4. (new song)
    5. Joy
    6. Ian

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MONO @ Lee’s Palace [25 April 2017]

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AfterHours ’17

Traveled to Tokyo, Japan to see Envy, Endon, MONO, Boris, and Heaven in Her Arms in the same day. Insanity!

After Hours '17 was insane! envy, Endon, MONO, Boris and Heaven in Her Arms in one day [09 April 2017 @ Tokyo, Japan]. Two new beautiful envy songs, one of my favourite MONO shows in the over dozen I've seen, HIHA is really damn good live, ENDON is on another planet live – in the best possible way and Boris closed their set with the fitting "Farewell". Plus I picked up a couple hard to find envy records, a few shirts and the brand new ENDON CD-couldn't wait for the LP or CS. Not a bad way to spend a rainy Sunday @afterhoursfest @borisdronevil @envybandofficial @monoofjapan @takagotoofficial @fakeandresale #envyband #envybandjapan #afterhours17 #afterhourstokyo #endon #endonband #monoofjapan #monoband #thenovembers #heaveninherarms #borisdronevil #tokyo #tsutayaoeast #tsutayaowest #tsutayaonest #duomusicexchange #livemusic #concertphotography

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NXNE: sans wristband

nxne

My first June in Toronto, and my first North by North East (NXNE): a ten-day festival of art, music, film and comedy. While it’s arguably losing touch with the city’s music scene, it’s still an opportunity to check out local bands. Anyway, no wristband for me. I didn’t know if it would be worth the cash and by the I had seen the list of bands I’d like to see, the price had doubled (from a reasonable $75 prior to the new year to close to $150 just before the festival). I made it to four shows in three days (two of which were free and one was not connected at all with NXNE).


What I saw…

20 June 2014: Swans, Eagulls, Omar Souleyman @ Yonge-Dundas Square

@ Yonge-Dundas Square [20 June 2014]

Swans @ Yonge-Dundas Square [20 June 2014]

Swans killed it. It was a unearthly environment in which to see them. The sterile, corporate surroundings of Yonge-Dundas (complete with Budweiser Girls) served as a curiously appropriate yet completely discordant venue. Front-man Michael Gira yowled to the sky an urge to “bring down” the towers to commerce that encircled the venue. After a 10-minute Gong-centric beginning to the show, the band lead off with new track “Frankie M”: a 20 minute beast that features a heavy and infections yet very controlled build (sometimes you just want the whole thing to explode!). After, they played “The Apostate” from 2012’s The Seer and ended with “Bring the Sun/Black Hole Man”. Reviews have been mixed: some love, others not so much. I only wondered how this struck the random on-lookers in this very public space.

21 June 2014: METZ, Nice Head, Fresh Snow, Eagulls @ Lee’s Palace

I had never seen Toronto’s favorite noise rock band, METZ. They’ve been described as the best live show in Rock ‘n’ Roll by Jonathan Poneman of Subpop Records. After their show on Saturday night at Lee’s Palace, I’m almost inclined to agree with him, or at least put them in my top ten current bands. They were visceral, aggressive and noisy, all while maintaining excellent rapport with hometown crowd, often making fun of ill-timed crowd-surfing attempts.

METZ @ Lee's Palace

METZ @ Lee’s Palace [21 June 2014]

They played nearly every track from 2012’s s/t Subpop debut full-length release with a fervent intensity that was impossible not to be engaged by. The drummer, Hayden Menzies, hits hard and is really the backbone of the live show. Fresh Snow (Toronto, ON) has been garnering considerable local attention for their hypnotic and often noisy instrumental tracks featured on their debut I. Masks were off for this show and the music was driving as the crowds began to pack Lee’s floor. The standout for me (aside from METZ), however, was played to a nearly empty room. Nice Head (members of Hamilton favorites Cursed, Burning Love, Sailboats are White) were brutal, feedback driven and intoxicating all at the same time. Really outstanding stuff. I’ll be looking to see them again soon.

22 June 2014: Greys @ Edward Day Gallery

The sun was out and it was getting warm for Greys’ third and final NXNE show (read about the first one). I missed the first two but was sure to catch this one. They are another Toronto band getting a lot of love, both from within Toronto and beyond (yes, that’s their new album If Anything on Buzz Records streaming at the Wall Street Journal).

3/4 of Greys @ Edward Day Gallery [22 June 2014]

3/4 of Greys @ Edward Day Gallery [22 June 2014]

It was brief, but intense, 20 minute set. Driving punk rock infused with force, noise and an infectious energy. I picked up their new LP at the show (see below) and have been putting it on the player quite frequently over the past few days. Definitely worth a listen and seeing them if you have the opportunity. Looks like their next Toronto show is at SHIBGBs in August.

22 June 2014: METZ, Holy Fuck, Pleasant Left @ Smiling Buddah

A last-minute “surprise” show by METZ in a more intimate locale. This show, which had nothing to do with NXNE, was an excellent way to end the weekend. The lineup also included Toronto’s Holy Fuck and Pleasure Leftists (Cleveland, OH).

METZ, Holy Fuck, Pleasure Leftists @ Smiling Buhddah [22 June 2014]

METZ, Holy Fuck, Pleasure Leftists @ Smiling Buhddah [22 June 2014]

Holy Fuck is a massive live band. They are beat-driven, pulsating and hypnotic integrating experimental effects and abrupt transitions. They shook the Smiling Buddha. The METZ setlist did not change much from the night before, but they did add one more new song. The crowd was into it, the music were intense and they consistently and rightly urged the audience to support the amazing local Toronto music scene as much as possible.

METZ @ Smiling Buddah [22 June 2014]

METZ @ Smiling Buddah [22 June 2014]

The Lee’s performance was great because it was the first time I had seen them, but the Smiling Buddah felt like we were all seeing this incredible live band together.


What I picked up…

Greys
If Anything LP
(Buzz Records, 2014)

This record is infectious, aggressive and inviting all at the same time. Check out the songs above. Marble grey vinyl.

 

WTCHS
It’s Not a Cross, it’s a Curse 12″
(Out of Sound/Perdu/Sonic Unyon, 2014)

I saw this Hamilton, ON band in March here in Toronto but unfortunately missed their two NXNE performances. I picked up the 12″ at the record fair at the Edward Day Gallery on Sunday. They play loud, dark rock ‘n’ roll with pounding drum rhythms. I am especially a fan of the album opener Girls. The only minor complaint is that it’s a short 5 songs, though I’m told they’ll have a new material on Sonic Unyon in February (2015). White, one-sided vinyl.

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Live: Envy, in Japan

Finally, I caught the Japanese hardcore/post-rock band Envy for the first time, certainly the band at the top of my must see list for a while. They played two absolutely blistering sets opening for post-rock giants Explosions in the Sky at the Liquidroom in Tokyo on May 7th and Umeda Club Quattro in Osaka, Japan on May 8th. I missed them when they played in DC in 2005 and then apparently played in Durango, Spain in 2011 – a show I had no idea about.

Envy (promo photo)

Envy (promo photo)

The two Japanese set lists were quite similar and featured a new song Nuro Devilman, which kills live. Favorites included A Warm RoomGo Mad and Mark, A Cradle of Arguments and Anxiousness and the show in Tokyo ended with a pounding Farewell to Words that caused the audience to lose it. Easily one of the best bands I’ve seen live in the nearly 20 years I’ve been going to shows.

set lists:

May 7, 2014 @ Liquidroom, Tokyo, Japan

  1. Worn Heels and the Hands We Hold
  2. Left Hand
  3. A Cradle of Arguments and Anxiousness
  4. Scene
  5. A Breath Clad in Happiness
  6. Nuro Devilman
  7. A Warm Room
  8. Farewell to Words

May 8, 2014 @ Umeda Club Quattro, Osaka, Japan

  1. Worn Heels and the Hands We Hold
  2. Left Hand
  3. Scene
  4. A Breath Clad in Happiness
  5. Go Mad and Mark
  6. Nuro Devilman
  7. A Warm Room

These were the first shows I’ve seen in Japan. So, a couple of things I noticed compared to shows in the US, Canada and Europe.

  1. It’s expensive, really expensive. Tickets are costly and at the door there was an additional 500¥ (~$5.00) “drink charge” of which we were unaware before hand. We wondered if this was due to the shows the not selling out – a way for the club to make up for losses. No one else seemed surprised.
  2. Tickets (at least for these two clubs) are printed with a number on them (we assumed it was the order in which they were purchased) that dictates the order in which you are allowed to enter the floor/venue. The Japanese sense of patience and order allows this to happen. I don’t think this would fly in the States.
  3. While the bands are allowed to sell shirts and other merch, e.g., Envy was selling their colossal Invariable Will, Recurring Ebbs and Flows box-set [1], the CDs were sold by the venues themselves. And, I noticed on one or two occasions, the bands being asked to put any CDs that were also being sold by the venue back in their box. CDs are expensive in Japan, but these looked marked up a little more.
  4. That being said, these were the two most polite audiences I’ve ever experienced at shows. Talking during sets (my biggest pet peeve of all in show-going) was non-existent and (most) everyone seemed interested in being there to see the bands.

There were no photos allowed (although it didn’t seem to be strictly enforced), so I have none to post, but here’s the excellent performance of A Warm Room:

1. This massive, beautiful box set is 14 LPs (+CD, DVD, book) and Envy were selling them for 200,000¥ (~$200). This not something I’d like to have to carry around with me during/after the show (especially on the often crowded Tokyo subway), but is certainly a favorite of mine in my meager record collection.

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Live: Lanterns on the Lake

Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Lanterns on the Lake brought their sometimes weepy, sometimes driving dream pop to Canadian (and North American!) soil for the first time. They are currently on a short Northeast North American tour on the heels of their 2013 release Until the Colours Run on Bella Union records (listen to Another Tale from Another English Townbelow). It really is a beautiful record, and while not radically distinct from their first LP Gracious Tide, Take Me Home (Bella Union, 2011), it shows the band refining their sound and adding a bit more dream.

Lanterns on the Lake live@ The Drake Hotel, Toronto 2014

Lanterns on the Lake live
@ The Drake Hotel, Toronto 2014

The new songs translate well live, and my favorite from their first album A Kingdomgets me every time. I had caught them once before when they played with Explosions in the Sky at the Brixton Academy in London in January 2012, and I was quite taken by quickly taken ability fuse the rockin’ with the dreamin’. Sarnia, ON’s Donovan Woods was a last-minute add to the bill and started off the show with some fun, singer/songwriter acoustic tunes, whose themes centered on topics such as getting out of Petrolia, ON, having to give up your relationship with your ex-girlfriend’s dad, and sleeping on airplanes. Good times all around. Lanterns on the Lake seemed thoroughly thrilled and relieved that people came out to see them play. It was a good draw (I’ve seen more packed into the Drake, but it definitely wasn’t empty) and it was nice to see that many people come out to the show. My guess at their setlist: picture show > elodie > a kingdom > ships in the rain > another tale from another english town > the ghost that sleeps in me > the buffalo days > not going back to the harbor > tricks > green and gold > until the colors run > i love you, sleepyhead.

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Live: Godspeed You! Black Emperor

I’ve been listening to the Montreal collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor for more than a decade now but only saw them for the first-time last night at the Metropolis in Montreal with Neurosis. Lame, I know – but I’m glad I got to see them in their hometown. The band was on ‘hiatus’ for nearly a decade from 2003 to 2011, while pursuing other projects, e.g., A Silver Mt Zion, HRSTA, Set Fire to Flames. They started playing again while I was living in Spain, and unfortunately, we had to miss them in Madrid and Barcelona in fall 2012. But last night was it. And holy shit,  they are incredible! All the hyperbole about the live show being a prophetic experience is pretty damn close to being true. After waiting outside for nearly an hour and a half, we were lucky enough to up front.
GY!BE live@ The Metropolis, Montreal 2014

GY!BE live
@ The Metropolis, Montreal 2014

The setlist spanned their catalogue, with the highlight being their yet to be recorded track. I had listened to liveversions of Behemoth a few times, but nothing prepares you for the visceral onslaught that is that song performed live. Forty-minutes integrating everything that makes this band so great – drones, crescendos, power. Let’s hope this gets put down on tape soon. Gathering Storm and The Sad Mafioso were two I was hoping to hear and Mladic from their newest album Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (2012, Constellation Records) was jaw-droppingly good. I was upfront (not the best place for the best mix, I know), and the drums didn’t seem mixed entirely correctly for the beginning of Mladic, but by the end of the track, it was full on. Setlist: hope drone > mladic > gathering storm> behemoth> the sad mafioso. I’m only gutted that I won’t be able to stick around in Montreal for the second of the two shows tonight.

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