While Kanae was super busy interviewing all Japanese bands/ artists who are in town for this year's Canadian Music Week, my dear friend, Idio Teque has offered some reviews of what he witnessed over the last few days. Check it out!
I'll admit, this is the first time I ever made my way the North Ballroom at The Gladstone Hotel, and it was somewhat at a whim. Wednesday night of CMW didn't have a whole lot that caught my eye, but this show had a few bands from Europe so it seemed like a worthwhile event to attend. This is what's listed on the CMW website about Meet The Blue:
"Meet the blue are an alternative indie duo from Ireland, the band has been in existence in some way or another since the beginning of time. Playing shows and house parties in Ireland, self releasing demos and singles and finally releasing their debut EP in 2012 after a busy year of shows and recording in Toronto. Meet The Blue is Darragh O' Sullivan (guitar/vocals/synth) and Paul Cosgrave (drums) The band is currently working on a follow up EP."
Originally from Ireland, they've made their home in Toronto recently, and while there were not a whole lot of people at The Gladstone, they definitely rocked out hard and brought to mind such power duos as DFA1979 for those of you who like comparisons. While not the most original thing I've ever heard, hearing an Irish voice bellowing is not something you'll see often in Toronto. Definitely a band to look out for in 2013. And just when I thought I'd seen the best act of the night, Denmark's Reptile Youth took the stage.
Reptile Youth - March 20th @Gladstone
From the opening of the first song, I knew these guys meant business. At this point, there were maybe 30 people sticking around, and most of them were lingering near the back, but as their first song, "Black Swan" filled the venue, lead singer Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen (Danish enough for ya?) held out his arms wide for almost the entirety of the song in a manner that was simultaneously menacing and inviting. It didn't seem gimmicky at all, this guy is legit.
Their music is electro-pop, but not the bubble gum type; these guys are as edgy as they come. The songs are infectious, and surprisingly enough, you pretty much know the words to every song after you hear it once. Every breakdown was an opportunity for Mads to do some serious dancing that resembled autistic frenzy. When he first addressed the audience between songs, he said in a very European accent "Vee are from Denmark, and vee didn't travel halfvay around the vorld to play a shit show" at which point he leapt off the stage and shook people until they moved to the music. Literally, he shook them. And jumped on them. And terrorized them a little, I imagine. But it worked, because the audience finally woke up and crowded to the front to enjoy the rest of the night. The lead singer continued to literally bounce off the walls in such a fashion that I was concerned for his well-being, but suffice it to say, this is not the kind of thing Toronto gets to see often, and when I spoke to the guys after the set, I promised them I'd be there for their show the next night at Annex Live, which takes us to Thursday, March 21st.
Highs - March 21 @Annex Live
I know they say that if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything at all, but I'll say a few things. These guys are listed as "Indie, Pop, Surf" on the CMW website. I got there about halfway through their set, and maybe they were done with the surf portion of their set by that time, but I don't really understand how anyone could classify their music as surf. It's Indie Pop, and pardon the redundancy, but it's very generic Indie Pop. I guess you have to give them credit for wearing some kind of war paint on their faces and matching arm bands and taking breaks to pound on floor toms, but seriously, doesn't everybody who has nothing original to offer resort to the matching outfits and floor tom schtick? But more on that later, next up was Reptile Youth once again.
Reptile Youth - March 21 @Annex Live
I ran into the guitarist from the band on my way in, and he was really excited that we came back. It's kind of crazy how nice these guys are when they have such an edgy performance. I couldn't help but smile when I saw that there was a decent crowd already there, but I was a little worried that the lead singer would injure himself, because the Annex Live is not a big open space like the Gladstone, it's got all kinds of perilous steps and railings and tables everywhere, and just as they were setting up, I couldn't help but think that this polite crowd of young Torontonians does not know what they're in for. Mads was jumping on tables, jumping on people, and at one point he tried to jump off of what he thought was a wall behind the curtain to the side of the stage only to realize that there was nothing but empty space, and he took quite a tumble. But right back up he got. The crowd was a lot more into it this time, but not enough for Mads! When he attempted to crowd surf, as I predicted, people moved out of the way and he might actually have lost a tooth landing face first on a railing. He crawled back onto the stage, shook his head a few times, walked backstage to wipe up, and came right back in 30 seconds spitting out a little bit of blood. And then off came the t-shirts and with a renewed ferocity they continued on to their outro, and man, this was one hell of a show, as any who was there that night will tell you. Look out for Reptile Youth, because these guys can put on a show. Also, their songs are quite catchy!
Wildlife - March 21 @The Great Hall
I was thinking that The Great Hall would be packed since there was little secret to the "Secret Guest" slated for 1AM as anyone with a smartphone and a twitter app will tell you, but there was no lineup to speak of and that was ok with me. PS I Love You had just played, and since I had seen them numerous times, I elected to catch Reptile Youth instead, but I'm sure they did a great job as they usually do. And so Wildlife begins their set. Once again, if not nice things, then few things shall I say. It could just be because I had just witnessed the genuine ferocity and authenticity of Reptile Youth and was anticipating the greatness of the "Secret Guest" to follow, but everything about Wildlife seemed painfully contrived, from the ample use of floor toms (you see a trend here?) to the arm bands (you think I'm kidding, right?) to the all-black dress-up (I'm not making this up) to the absolute generic nature of their music. But hey, twitter was a-buzz with posts about these guys, so they must be amazing and I must be wrong! Now, onto...
The Darcys - March 21 @The Great Hall
It's no secret that I think that The Darcys are the best band out of Toronto right now, bar none. The crowd had filled to its fullest for these guys, and for good reason. Their music is well thought out, purposeful, and above all, unique and original. Just take a listen to their self-titled LP which you can still download for free from their website. The sound guy was obviously outmatched because their monitors were feeding back a bit, but when you've got 2 pedal boards that can each sink a ship and 2 keyboards (no Rhodes this time) and samplers out the arsehole along with bass and drums to boot, this is not a sound guy's fantasy, and this guy was no Kip (a la Horseshoe Tavern). But, The Darcys prevailed, opening with Don't Bleed Me and having all their songs segue seamlessly into each other was eargasmic, as anyone with ears who was there will corroborate. As promised they played two new tunes off of their forthcoming release, which I believe will be released in Fall (release it already!!) and they did not disappoint. Lead singer Jason Couse exercises his vocal range to the fullest, and indeed, guitarist Mike LeRiche does the same on these new songs, and I like that they sound like Darcys songs but are definitely a bit of a departure from the first LP, and in a very good way. These guys never struck me as the kind to repeat themselves, and I just got even more excited for this new record. When they closed with Edmonton To Purgatory, you better believe the crowd was singing along with them. My personal favourite part about the way they play that live now is Jason's keyboard mashing leading up to the acapella bit. Amazing. I can't say enough good things about these guys, and there was no way any band could follow that up, but unfortunately, there was yet left a band from Dublin, Ireland who had to try.
Heritage Centre - March 21 @The Great Hall
Playing at 2AM on a Thursday in Toronto is tough, especially if the venue is not Horseshoe or Lee's, and Heritage Centre had their work cut out for them. There were maybe 20 people left at The Great Hall for their set, but they still gave it their all. It wasn't terribly original, but they are by far a lot more worthy of twitterbuzz than many buzzing bands, I'll say that about them. Their music is similar to Weezer as it says on the CMW website, and they were definitely fun and easy to listen to. So for those of you who like "chill out" music, give these guys a try. And thus ended night 3 of CMW for me, looking forward to a few more nights to follow.