Monday, April 6th, 2009

Flowers And Football Tops

Glasvegas at the Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt’s far too easy to be cynical about Glasvegas. Emerging from the UK as they did last year on a massive wave of hype with a sound that was unabashedly retro and a matching ’50s-greaser gang image, the Glasgow-based quartet were quick targets for those who wanted to dismiss them as contrived and calculated, not that that stopped them from topping the charts and becoming massive at home.

For my part, I went from intrigued on first listen to mildly suspicious after spending time with their self-titled debut and then somewhat won over following their daylight SxSW set. At the time, I figured that seeing them in neutral environs such as a SxSW day show, stripped of their light show and adoring fans, would provide a truer indication if they were for real or not. And yes they sold me, but it wasn’t until Friday night’s show at the Mod Club – their long-awaited Toronto debut – that I realized what I was missing out on by skipping the formal sales pitch.

Glasvegas are not ashamed to aspire to stadium-scale grandeur, with massive Spector-via-JAMC sonics and anthemic choruses designed to rouse the cheap seats and while the Mod Club is hardly Wembley Stadium, packed as it was with fans hollering along with every song, it wasn’t far off. From the opening notes of “Geraldine” through end end of their just under an hour-long set, it was clear that Glasvegas weren’t there to convince anyone they were a great band – they were there to celebrate that as fact with those who already knew it. Looking not a little bit Strummer and clad in a leather jacket (later swapped for a tank top and donated tartan scarf), frontman James Allan displayed dollops of rock star charisma, basking in the adoration of the audience but returning every bit of it right back to the crowd.

It was the sort of rapport that made me ashamed to have ever questioned the sincerity of the band. That doesn’t necessarily excuse some of the overly-direct earnestness of the songwriting, but it does mitigate it. Seeing and hearing Allan bellow the words with unquestionable emotion, no matter how clumsy, then back off while the enraptured audience take over while more than matching his passion… yes, on paper it’s kind of cliche but in person? It’s still pretty stirring. The band will probably always have more than it’s share of critics and naysayers, but I know where I stand now – over there with the other folks singing, “here we fucking go”.

The Toronto Sun has a glowing review of the show and reports that the band will be back this Fall, eye has another review. Music Snobbery has an interview with the band. And congrats go to Jarita, Ashlee and Mark who won the signed Glasvegas albums.

Photos: Glasvegas @ The Mod Club – April 3, 2009
Video: Glasvegas – “Please Come Back Home”
Video: Glasvegas – “Daddy’s Gone”
Video: Glasvegas – “Geraldine”
MySpace: Glasvegas

NME has a video interview and The Line Of Best Fit and The Herald text ones with Doves. Kingdom Of Rust is out tomorrow, they play the Kool Haus on June 1.

Tourdates UK talks to Emmy The Great.

Maximo Park have released the first video from their forthcoming album Quicken The Heart, out May 12.

Video: Maximo Park – “The Kids Are Sick Again”

And also with a new video are The Joy Formidable for their latest single “Whirring”, off the excellent A Balloon Called Moaning.

Video: The Joy Formidable – “Whirring”

Drowned In Sound chats with Ryan Adams on the occasion of his retirement from the world of music. He interviews Marianne Faithfull for Black Book while The Guardian profiles Adams and other rockers turned authors including Nick Cave and Billy Bragg.

The Hold Steady are offering up an MP3 from their new live album A Positive Rage, out tomorrow.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy” (live)

I saw almost 50 shows at SxSW this year, but one of the ones I missed – and regret – was The Uglysuit, who only played like three shows. Could they not have taken one of the Vivian Girls’ two dozen shows? They’ve released a new MP3 from their fine 2008 self-titled debut, reviewed here.

MP3: The Uglysuit – “…And We Became Sunshine”

Paste and The Skinny catch up with The Thermals. Their new one Now We Can See is out tomorrow and currently streaming at their MySpace. They’re at the Horseshoe on May 3.

Stream: The Thermals – “Now We Can See”

Blurt, BBC1, The New York Times and Filter have profiles on The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Askmen talks to Metric’s Emily Haines. Their new album Fantasies is out tomorrow, they play an in-store at HMV on Yonge St on Thursday and a show at the Mod Club next Tuesday.

I Heart Music is sharing MP3s of the CBC Fuse session with The Sadies and The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie from a couple years ago. I saw them team up at the Horseshoe in December 2007 and it was intense. The Sadies’ new album backing John Doe, Country Club, is out April 14 and they play the Horseshoe together on April 30. The Tragically Hip’s new one We Are The Same is out this week and they have a six-night stand at Massey Hall the week of May 11.

WOXY has posted MP3s from a slew of Lounge Act sessions recorded during SxSW, including sets from The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart, Ume and The Wooden Birds. They also welcomed The Rural Alberta Advantage in for a session last week.

PitchforkTV is streaming the new Arcade Fire documentary Miroir Noir, which is now available in DVD form.

Soundproof has a guest column from Alan McGee wondering why people would actually want The Stone Roses to reunite.

The National Post has an interview with yours truly about blogs and stuff and includes what I hope is one of the worst pictures of me in existence. If anyone tells me that’s actually a good photo, I will despair.

By : Frank Yang at 8:07 am
Category: Concert Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post14 Responses.
  1. Greg says:

    Great review as always Frank and it was a pleasure meeting up with you at another fantastic gig.

  2. scott says:

    No, Frank… that is NOT a great photo. Yikes. It’s that awkward “between expressions” moment I tend to ALWAYS be photographed in, so I feel your pain…

    Nice interview, though… (and great Glasvegas review – I love when you’re standing not too far in front of me at shows, because it means your photos will look somewhat like my line of sight LOL).

  3. pete says:

    Glasvegas auto-tune their vocals on record. When will this gross practice end?

  4. Bruce says:

    Great Glasvegas show. Funny, after seeing them Friday, it seems when listening to the album again that some of these songs, whether consciously or not, are written with built-in sections for audience participation — the exact parts that are arranged to have the band drop down, leaving the vocal line on its own, are the same as where the crowd took over singing duties. Just an observation. True, any band that can generate this much excitement, especially their first time around, has to be the real deal. And to lead off with your biggest song to date only indicates the confidence that what follows is rock-solid.

    On Allan-as-Strummer, put a Telecaster in his hands and it would cross over from uncanny to reincarnated. (Faust alert!)

  5. eugene says:

    Any reviews of the Death Cab/Cold War Kids/Ra Ra Riot show last night in Toronto?

  6. Frank Yang says:

    eugene – nope, I wasn’t there. I’m sure someone else was, though.

  7. J.P. says:

    Man, one just has to laugh at the state of journalism today:

    “I had started writing about myself and the things that interested me and it quickly {{segway’ed}} into mostly music”

    Segway’ed? WTF? So Kelly Bergeron thinks you rode an upright, two-wheeled scooter right into ye old blogging about music, eh? I’ll just assume that the journalist who wrote that piece didn’t see much in the way of any spelling bee action back in the day :-) It’s “segued” for those playing along at home.

    And yeah, “here we fucking go indeed” – amazing how that tune manages to grab onto your ears and not let go. Good stuff, that.

  8. Bruce says:

    A heads up for tonight, the Ladytron tour appears to be a co-headline with the Faint, and the Phoenix is listing the Faint as tonight’s headliner. Adjust timing as required.

    Yeah, come on, National Post, “segway’ed”? Frank, to clear your name you might want them to issue a correction, someone might actually believe that’s how you spell it when you say it (hey, it’s the Internets we’re talking about here).

  9. Merz says:

    That National Post interview was an excellent read. The pic isn’t bad and good to put a face to the name. You set the mark for what music blogging should be. I visit everyday and truly appreciate the effort that you put into this blog. The music blogosphere would not be the same without Chromewaves!

  10. Daily Dose - Monday Linkage | Radio Exile says:

    […] Frank at Chromewaves has ALMOST convinced me to like Glasvegas. I just can’t love them, though. They make me feel…weird [Chromewaves] […]

  11. thomaus says:

    As I read these comments, I started worrying about my spelling skills. I hadn’t noticed the segway error. However, it seems the National Post had already corrected their error by the time I read the interview. Somewhat ironic to have a typo in an interview about a guy who (without staff) publishes an almost daily blog that is remarkably free of typos.

  12. Rob says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more re: Glasvegas. Liked the album… Loved the show. It’s refreshing to see a band balance the critical success with humility. He seemed genuinely pleased with the audience. Most UK bands, if they haven’t played Toronto yet, have a similar reaction… “Hey, this is kinda like home!” Gotta catch them early though!

    My wife and I were standing behind you and the “photog mafia.” (Just kidding!) It was nice to meet you finally!

  13. Jason says:

    I thought Glasvegas was one of the most disappointing shows I’ve seen in years, if not in a decade. I didn’t have high expectations; I hadn’t heard much of the hype, and thought the album was so-so. I liked the guitar sound, but I found the band ponderous and kind of plodding, and James Allan’s world-weary kiss blowing really tiresome. Either Allan can’t actually sing, or he was suffering from laryngitis, because what I could hear of his voice wasn’t very impressive. Oh, and the lights were annoying. Ian Curtis would have died. Give me loud guitars over sensitive guys with beards and vests any day, but if this is the Next Big Thing, I despair.

  14. Sharon Van Etten at The Drake Underground in Toronto | WAKAZ says:

    […] Spinner, The Islington Tribune, DIY and The Skinny have features on Glasvegas, who’ve announced a North American tour in support of album number two, Euphoric Heartbreak, which is out stateside on May 17. I think the May 29 show at Lee’s Palace, for which tickets will be $20 on sale Saturday at 10, will be their first visit since they were here at the peak of their hype in April 2009. […]