Saturday, July 9th, 2005


Free concerts are good. Free concerts taking place down the street from home are better. As part of the opening ceremonies for this year’s Celebrate Toronto! street festival, our fair city assembled a suitably eclectic (read: strange) lineup for a free show at Dundas Square last night. The big draw (for me, anyway), was Broken Social Scene’s closing set. The wild card, however, was something called Les Girafes, Urban Operetta.

Described as “ambulatory spectacle set to original music with elements of circus arts, theatre, dance and opera” and imported from France (duh), what it was nine giant (8-metres high) red giraffe puppet things winding their way through Dundas Square and up and down Yonge St while a clown and giraffe-master woman performed an opera of some description with attendent pyrotechnics and explosions of tissue paper confetti. I found it fascinating to watch these things, huge and elegant – they could have been dragons as much as giraffes – wind their way through the crowd and around the Eaton Centre. It’s rather hard to describe in words – here are some pics.

Not surprisingly, the local message board punters are falling over themselves to come up with clever ways to say how much they hated the giraffes. People around here complain about how dull and unimaginative Toronto is, and then when they do do something that is utterly bizarre and unique, they bitch about it. My take? People just like to complain far too much. Yeah, it’s unfortunate that the operetta went on so long as to cut into Broken Social’s set time, but I thought that witnessing something so utterly surreal was worth it. You’ve seen the band a dozen times before and you’ll see them again – lighten up, Francis.

When Broken Social did finally take the stage, it seemed almost as strange as the giraffes to see them in the white plastic tent set up at the front of the Square. I thought the elevated platform built at the southeast corner was supposed to be a stage? Why the need for a temporary one? The band also seemed to feel a little out of place at the venue, Kevin Drew asking the crowd if it was alright that they were playing there (but saying that got a big wad of cash for it) and Brendan Canning pointing out that one of the giant video screens displaying the show made it appear that they were sponsored by L’Oreal.

Playing with a compact lineup (at least for them) of six to nine members, the Scene on this night was bolstered by the presence of Torq, Amy and Evan from Stars who had just flown in from Stockholm that morning. I had feared that due to scheduling, none of the BSS ladies would be in attendence but Amy’s presence headed off any more “Broken Sausage Scene” jokes I might have made, and believe me, I’d have gone there. Also noteworthy was Evan’s dubious moustache. Uh, no guy. No.

Thanks to the giraffe overrun, BSS had to play a somewhat compressed set that incorporated new material and old – the new stuff sounds so good, Windsurfing Nation will simply destroy. Mark my words. But the abbreviated playing time meant that the band didn’t quite get a chance to get up to full throttle. They’re a jammy act and usually need a little time to find the groove, something they just didn’t have the luxury of on this night. And while the huge crowd was surely inspiring, the antiseptic beer tent stage with the “Toronto Unlimited” branding all over it couldn’t have been a real mood-enhancer.

But complaints seem discourteous. It was a gorgeous night, the crowd was into it, it was free and a lovely time was had by all. Unless you were trampled by a giraffe, but then at least you have a story to tell. I was a little ways back so my photos aren’t the most dynamic I’ve ever taken, but not bad either.

Tofuhut has an excellent interview with Feist, complete with musical recommendations. From BrooklynVegan via For The Records.

Rachael Yamagata tells The Salt Lake Tribune that her second album, which she’ll start recording this Fall, will be a more guitar rock affair. Via Largehearted Boy.

Frank Black gives Chart a state of the Pixies (re)union.

What do you get when you cross a guy with a camera and no compunctions with some makeout point in Japan? Hilarity. And rage. Actually a lot of rage.

np – Longwave / There’s A Fire

By : Frank Yang at 10:04 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. suckingalemon says:

    alot of us did not like the spectacle not because we are snobs who do not appreciate theater, because trust me, i do and see alot of it. but it was nice for the first half an hour, but it 1) ate into bss’s set, they were sitting there waiting to play. 2) alot of my friends who i talked to afterwards who were not lucky like me to get into that caged front area were being crushed and had to go elsewhere. 3) some of that stuff kids should not be seeing

    if say this was in a different event and i saw this i might have enjoyed it a little more.

    are you talking about that mini stage?

    that was for julie black. so she could sing while great big sea were setting up.

    the new songs they played i only knew 2 out of the 3 – superconnnected, shorelines, and i cannot recall the other one with amy/kevin duetting but have heard it before.


  2. Frank says:

    no, I’m talking about the raised platform at the southeast corner:


    When they originally designed the Square, that was intended to be the stage for concerts and whatnot. I thought it odd that they needed to bring in another stage.

    And the giraffes may not have been entirely thought out logistically in terms of crowds, duration, etc, but the outrage I’m reading is just silly.

  3. newpolluter says:

    it’s really unprofessional to run your set twice as long as scheduled, especially when the giraffe thing is doing the exact same show tonight again. people where bending over backwards to come in from europe for this, and getting a lot of disrespect at them. I’d write it up to unresearched booking and move on.

  4. infamous jennifer says:

    this is why i hate hipsters. Fuck – shut up already. i totally agree with you, Frank.

  5. Yan says:

    The giraffes were marvellous–though it went too long.

    For the record, the late BSS start wasn’t entirely the giraffes’ fault. Great Big Wank went well over their official time slot, so they get some of the blame.

    I was disappointed by the BSS new stuff. And was surprised they played so many of the filler songs from YFIP. But then there are a lot of filler songs on that album.

    "some of that stuff kids should not be seeing"? There is no hope for this town.

  6. graig says:

    I go into it more on my site, but damn, I did not like those giraffes. I was actually looking forward to it before hand but after about 20 minutes I’d had my fill. An hour later the music was boring into my brain and I was getting pretty grumpy. I also felt the way the giraffes manouevered through the crowd was wholly inappropriate (there wasn’t really room for the crowd closer to the stage to move, the giraffe operators were kicking people with their stilts and I saw more than a few feet get run over).

    It would have been an interesting and exciting 15 minute spectacle, as it was it was 90minutes of torture.

    To me at least.

  7. christina says:

    i totally agree w/ the person above. i was looking fwd to seeing it as well, but it just turned out to be some terrible performance art (i really didn’t find it all that entrancing or magnificent–it got downright boring and annoying–i know i’ve seen better art than that, and i hope you have, too), not to mention inconsiderate, in more ways than one.

    all in all, i regret going. the sound was kind of terrible from where i was standing (mid-to back of the square–yesyes, i know it’s usually bad at these kinds of things–i don’t know why i expected better) and they really did play for only 30 mins. and that’s probably the last time i’ll see the band live in a while. unless they play mexico.

  8. TS says:

    i didn’t go (yeah!) but instead hit the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition…which is spectacular…and tonight i’m doing the Fringe Fest. Ah, Toronto in the summer. And – oh why would Rachel Yamagata do a 2nd album, when she is COMPLETELY UNTALENTED??? WHO BUYS THIS STUFF?

  9. Frank says:

    I like Rachael Yamagata. But thanks for playing.

  10. brian says:

    i’m digging the new bss songs more and more… so far it sounds more like a party, sing-along record.

  11. ts says:

    didn’t mean to offend, but her set opening for Ryan Adams was almost as painful as anything I’ve seen in this fair city.

  12. Joe says:

    Posting to say that Broken was here in Ottawa tonight at Bluesfestival, and that played a slew of the new songs, which were amazing, in addition to most of ‘You forgot it in people’, yes, even the "filler" songs.

    And that Metric, Stars, Apostle of Hustle, Andrew Whittman, and Gentlemen Reg opened, so as such, the line was pretty damn well near full.

    Oh, and Owen Pallet from Final Fantasy got on the stage for ‘Anthems for a seventeen year old girl’ and did some strings.


  13. St. John says:

    "her set opening for Ryan Adams was almost as painful as anything I’ve seen in this fair city."

    You must not have stayed for his set then, ’cause it was worse.

  14. suckingalemon says:


    i simply meant at the end, it was a little much, but i guess what i said makes me sound like a big prude so i take it back.

    those "filler" songs are wonderful btw.


    that art show really is spectacular, and about rachael yamagata, while i don’t find her amazing she is quite good and if ryan adams asks you to open up his tour, you must be doing something right.


    FF getting on stage with BSS is awesome, that’s truly the full lineup right there.

  15. ts says:

    St. John – you’re almost correct about Ryan – I left just after his ‘2nd set’ cause I couldn’t handle the crowd talking and talking. I’ve seen Ryan before and he was amazing – i think the koolhaus was the wrong venue for his new gentler songs…..and suckingalemon – she may be doing something right, but it ain’t performing. maybe she’s just ‘studio’ good.

  16. @ndrew says:

    I have to agree, the giraffes were interesting for about 10 minutes but as it wore on I became more and more impatient and frustrated.

    The performers showed no regard for the audience or Social Scene. I feel they should have pulled the plug on them at 10.

    Did you notice how Sean Cullen didn’t acknowledge them? I noticed BSS were getting pretty agitated as it wore on. This band has a lot to bring to attention to Toronto’s indie scene and what happened last Friday night was shameful and disrepectful