Monday, May 10th, 2010

Fall Hard

Shout Out Louds and Freelance Whales at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI detected a sense of general disappointment, critically speaking, around Shout Out Louds’ latest record Work, mostly centered around the fact that it didn’t represent as big a leap from 2007’s Our Ill Wills as that record did from their debut Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. And if we allow that there’s a way to quantify such things, it’s probably true – Work isn’t as sonically lush as its predecessor and its songs are more efficient, and it generally splits the difference between the grand Ills Wills and the scrappy Howl Howl. But what those who criticize Work on the basis that it’s not another watershed moment in their career – because those typically immediately follow previous watershed moments – seem to miss out on is the much more important fact that it, like the rest of Shout Out Louds’ oeuvre, is laden with glorious jangly and melodic indie-pop that’s as suited to dancing as rocking.

And though some critics might not get that, the fans do, and their first Toronto show in two and a half years on Saturday night at the Mod Club was sold out well in advance – even the lone scalper out front only had one ducat to offer. About 100 or so of the 500-plus who’d eventually be in attendance showed up early enough to see New York’s Freelance Whales do their thing, which was play clever and ultra twee pop from their debut album Weathervanes. I’d seen them do said thing back at SxSW but that was a break-of-day set where I wouldn’t have expected anyone to be at their best and appropriately, their set on this evening – though also technically early – was much peppier and pep is kind of essential to their sound, all made of glockenspiels, harmoniums, banjos and five-part harmonies. And while on record they can drift to the wrong side of wimpy, live they beefed up their sound enough – volume wins! – to keep it engaging. And closing (though not deliberately as they thought they’d have time for one more) with a well-intentioned if not entirely tidy cover of Broken Social Scene’s “7/4 (Shoreline)” was a nice nod to the city… or as they wryly noted, “that one’s called ‘pandering'”.

I remember Shout Out Louds’ October 2007 show as a lively affair that took some of the polish off of the Ill Wills album arrangements, and their SxSW 2008 as a raucous, stage trashing throwdown – this time, they split the difference between the two and turned in what was the best performance I’ve seen them do yet. Perhaps it was the pressure of a hard 10PM curfew, but kicking off with Work leadoff track “1999”, they barrelled through their 90-minute set without much let up in energy and with only just enough missteps to count as charming, particularly early on when Adam Olenius lept into the audience for “Tonight I Have To Leave It” and had a bit of trouble climbing back onstage. By and large, though, the show was a fast-paced romp through all of their records – Work was well-represented but not at the expense of older favourites – that got the house up and kept them there, particularly with the sing-along encore closer of “Walls”, which was marked by much jumping up and down and arm-waving. Perhaps if, a few records from now, Shout Out Louds are still ploughing the same field of inspiration, I might find myself on the side of those who wish they’d try to branch out a bit more but for now, a record like Work and a show like this, are plenty to keep me satisfied.

Exclaim and Panic Manual also have reviews of the show. QRO and Ion have interviews with assorted Shout Out Louds while NPR is streaming their show in Washington DC from last week.

Photos: Shout Out Louds, Freelance Whales @ The Mod Club – May 8, 2010
MP3: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”
MP3: Shout Out Louds – “Tonight I Have To Leave It”
MP3: Freelance Whales – “Generator 2nd Floor”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Fall Hard”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Walls”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Tonight I Have To Leave It”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Impossible”
Video: Shout Out Louds – “Please Please Please”
Video: Freelance Whales – “Generator 2nd Floor”
MySpace: Shout Out Louds
MySpace: Freelance Whales

Pitchfork has the first sample of the new album from The Concretes, entitled WYWH and due out in October.

MP3: The Concretes – “Good Evening”

Johan Duncanson talks to Spinner about The Radio Dept’s obsessive/lazy work ethic, and why it took so long for Clinging To A Scheme to see the light of day.

The Mary Onettes have a new video for their recent, non-album single.

Video: The Mary Onettes – “The Night Before The Funeral”

PitchforkTV has a Tunnel Vision session with The Tallest Man On Earth.

Under The Radar chats with Jonsi at Coachella.

MusicOmh interviews Doves.

Beatroute and The Georgia Straight chat with James Graham of The Twilight Sad; they are at Lee’s Palace on May 26 with Mono.

PopMatters talks to Chris Chu of The Morning Benders, who seem to have become the go-to band for duos looking for openers. They’re in town supporting Broken Bells at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on June 2 and then The Black Keys at The Kool Haus on August 3.

If you needed a little more incentive to go see Midlake’s show at the Mod Club on May 21, how about the fact that a solo Jason Lytle, along with John Grant, will be supporting? And the fact that Midlake, apparently, no longer perform hidden behind a wall of keyboards?

MP3: Jason Lytle – “Yours Truly, The Commuter”

Nathaniel Rateliff’s May 30 show at the Drake Underground has been canceled. But if you were looking forward to seeing him play, there’s at least this video performance for Yours Truly.

The previously announced July 20 Real Estate/Kurt Vile show has found a home – it’ll be taking place at the Great Hall.

By : Frank Yang at 8:34 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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

RSS Feed for this post5 Responses.
  1. bike says:

    Who is going to be the Concretes’ singer? Has their original singer re-joined the band?

  2. FrostBiteBoy says:

    I was impressed in a big way by the Freelance Whales performance.

    I went in with very little expectation, but was quickly won over by the Campesinos-meets-MGMT-meets-Cloud Cult-meets-Fanfarlo band. The pandering certainly worked on me. By the end of that great 7/4 (Shoreline) cover (which somebody has captured beautifully for YouTube:, I was already lined up at the merch table to get my copy of Weathervanes. I haven’t stopped listening to it since.

    By the end of Saturday night, I had completely forgotten which band I came to see…

    Shout Out Louds didn’t grab me the way the Whales did. I spent the first half of SOL’s set watching you, Frank, do your thing in the front row.

  3. Frank Yang says:

    Concretes are now fronted by Lisa Milberg, their guitarist who sang backup to Victoria and lead on a couple songs. I think they’ve already released one post-Victoria record though I don’t think people paid a lot of attention.

    watching me rather than the band? That’s… odd.

  4. mike says:

    Wow, Shout Out Louds played a ninety-minute set? So that means I missed the first hour of the set – I only caught the last half and hour of the set as my bro, cousin and their significants were celebrating my b-day with me with dinner down the street. Man, I missed misjudged SOL’s set start time, although I’m glad I caught at least the last half hour.

  5. Ricky says:

    FBB: thats kinda creepy.