Posts Tagged ‘Hollerado’

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Hear It Is

Oh my gawd!!! …The Flaming Lips are free for NXNE!

Photo By J. Michelle Martin-CoyneJ. Michelle Martin-CoyneSo what are you doing June 16? Are you one of those so conditioned by years of Toronto Radiohead shows selling out in a heartbeat that you tripped over yourself getting tickets for their Downsview gig as soon as they went on sale, even though the new venue was over twice the size of the Amphitheatre and general admission? Or are you one of those conscious of the fact that this is a King Of Limbs tour and realistically speaking, they probably won’t be playing the stuff you like most and anyways that’s the day the reunited Archers Of Loaf are finally coming to town and there’s no place you’d rather be that night than The Phoenix? Or were you waiting to hear what NXNE had up their sleeves since that’s when the Yonge-Dundas Square mainstage traditionally hosts the biggest name of the fest playing for free? If you chose option c), then congratulations on wanting to make an informed decision. And I’m sorry to say that Radiohead is now sold out so all your strategizing was for naught.

But you’ve hardly lost out as NXNE finally announced their first batch of acts playing the festival this year, and the Saturday night mainstage headliners will be none other than The Flaming Lips. The Oklahoman psychedelic-rockers, last here in July 2010, will endeavour to transform Yonge-Dundas Square into a garish, technicolor assault on the senses… so pretty much what it is every day, but with a bubble walk. Kidding aside, it will be pretty exciting to see a lot of people who’ve presumably never seen the Lips perform (or even know who they are) witness one of the most ridiculous and entertaining live shows going. Laser hands! And hey – since Yonge-Dundas isn’t far from The Phoenix, you can technically do both The Lips and Archers Of Loaf. I will, anyways.

As for the other confirmed acts, there’s a pretty impressive collection of both buzz bands and veterans coming to Toronto the weekend of June 14 to 17 – certainly more than a few that I’ve either been waiting to see come to town or are quite curious about. And because I’m a big dork, as I’ve done the past couple years, I’ve tried to discern the when and where of as many showcases as possible based on tour routing, previous announcements, what have you. There’s not quite as much info floating around right now as in past years, but if you wanted to get a jump start on trying to resolve inevitable scheduling conflicts, it’s something. Of course, all of this is unconfirmed until the official schedule is unveiled and certainly subject to change – I’ll probably keep updating it until that happens, if just for my own reference – but my sources are credible.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Hayes Carll, July Talk @ The Horseshoe
Eternal Summers @ The Drake Underground

Thursday, June 14, 2012
Bad Religion, No Use For A Name, Good Riddance @ Yonge-Dundas Square
White Rabbits, Vacationer, Nash @ The Mod Club
Bran Van 3000, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Violens, Hooded Fang @ The Horseshoe
The Men, Grass Widow, The Black Belles, Mac DeMarco, Gap Dream @ The Garrison
Young Magic, Purity Ring, Moon King, Exitmusic, The Hundreds in The Hands @ Wrongbar
The Danks, Vinyl Williams @ The Drake Underground
Bleached @ The Silver Dollar
Mean Jeans @ The Shop Under Parts & Labour
The Seedy Seeds @ The Painted Lady
Larry & His Flask, The Schomberg Fair @ Sneaky Dee’s

Friday, June 15, 2012
Matthew Good, Plants & Animals, Eight And A Half @ Yonge-Dundas Square
2:54, Friends, Oberhofer @ Lee’s Palace
The Smoking Popes @ The Great Hall
The Sadies & Andre Williams, Reigning Sound, The Black Belles, The Coppertone @ The Horseshoe
Widowspeak, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Art Vs. Science @ The Garrison
The Men, Bass Drum Of Death, DZ Deathrays, The Death Set, Metz @ Wrongbar
Bleached, Parlovr, Hooded Fang, Goose Hut @ The Silver Dollar
Rah Rah @ The Dakota Tavern
Phèdre, Odonis Odonis, Beta Frontiers, Cartoons, Hellaluya, Hussy, Times Neue Roman @ Sneaky Dee’s
Brasstronaut, Útidúr @ TBA

Saturday, June 16, 2012
The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Ceremony, Art Vs. Science, Oberhofer, Parlovr, Hollerado @ Yonge-Dundas Square
Archers Of Loaf, Metz @ The Phoenix
Catl, Young Empires @ The Horseshoe
Killer Mike, Death Grips, Ceremony, Doldrums, Trae Tha Truth @ Wrongbar
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ Sneaky Dee’s
Holly McNarland, The Deer Tracks @ The Rivoli
Limblifter, Shellshag, Our Brother The Native, Neon Windbreaker, International Zombies OF Love @ El Mocambo
Kontravoid, Automelodi, Bleached, Prince Innocence, Ell V Gore, Mac DeMarco, Cellphone, Dutch Toko @ The Silver Dollar
Sean Rowe @ The Dakota Tavern
WAZU @ The Painted Lady
Carnival Moon @ Czehoski
DJ Jonathan Toubin @ TBA

Sunday, June 17, 2012
Raekwon & Ghostface Killah @ Yonge-Dundas Square

The full list of announced acts – including those without a venue or exact date that I can pin down – can be grokked over here but definitely catching my eye are Rival Schools and Porcelain Raft (June 14 or 15). Not a bad start at all, lots more to come.

MP3: Archers Of Loaf – “Harnessed In Slums”
MP3: Ceremony – “Hysteria”
MP3: Death Grips – “Spread Eagle Cross The Block”
MP3: The Deer Tracks – “Dark Passenger”
MP3: Mac DeMarco – “Baby’s Wearin’ Blue Jeans”
MP3: Doldrums – “I’m Homesick Sittin’ Up Here In My Satellite”
MP3: Hollerado – “Americanarama”
MP3: The Men – “Ex-Dreams”
MP3: Oberhofer – “Away Frm U”
MP3: Of Montreal – “Coquet Coquette”
MP3: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – “Karmageddon”
MP3: Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
MP3: Andrew Williams – “Dirt”
Video: Bad Religion – “21st Century Digital Boy”
Video: The Black Belles – “What Can I Do”
Video: The Flaming Lips – “Fight Test”
Video: Friends – “Friend Crush”
Video: Ghostface Killah – “2getha Baby”
Video: Matthew Good – “Everything Is Automatic”
Video: Raekwon – “House Of Flying Daggers”
Video: 2:54 – “You’re Early”

And speaking of The Flaming Lips, their Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends album is out this Saturday for Record Store Day – if you can get your hands on one – and Wayne Coyne talks about it to The Huffington Post. They’ve also released a video from it – NSFW, of course. Lips don’t do clothes.

Video: The Flaming Lips and New Fumes – “Girl, You’re So Weird”

Electronic Anthology Project is the brainchild of Built To Spill’s Brett Netson wherein he takes songs from artists who aren’t especially electronic – like, say, Dinosaur Jr – and recreates them in synth-y, new wave style and actually makes it work. Of course it helps when you can get the likes of J Mascis to re-record some vocals for the project… The Electronic Anthology Project of Dinosaur Jr will be released on CD for Record Store Day but you can stream the whole thing right now at Stereogum.

Stream: Electronic Anthology Project – “Tarpit”
Stream: Electronic Anthology Project of Dinosaur Jr

Stereogum checks in with Jana Hunter of Lower Dens to see how things are coming on their next album Nootropics, out May 1.

Beach House are streaming another new song from Bloom, out May 15. It’ll be available on 7″ for Record Store Day this Saturday.

Stream: Beach House – “Lazuli”

Spin interviews Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast, whose new record The Only Place is out on May 15. They play The Phoenix on July 21.

Though Mark Kozelek has a habit of booking and then cancelling shows, he’s planning to be in Toronto at The Great Hall on October 3 to promote the new Sun Kil Moon record Among The Leaves, out May 29. Tickets are $20 in advance and refunds will be available at the point of purchase.

MP3: Sun Kil Moon – “UK Blues”
MP3: Sun Kil Moon – “Carry Me Ohio”
MP3: Sun Kil Moon – “Sunshine In Chicago”

Exclaim reports that the second Guided By Voices album of 2012 – Class Clown Spots a UFO – will be out on June 21 and a third GBV album entitled Bears For Lunch should be out in November. Most prolific reunion ever?

That Nintendo-premiered new video from The Shins is finally available to watch online. They’re at The Molson Amphitheatre on August 4 supporting The Black Keys.

Video: The Shins – “The Rifle’s Spiral”

Craig Finn tells Rolling Stone that The Hold Steady will begin work on a new record this Summer, but he’s not quite done with the solo thing yet – Paste has premiered a new video as part of a fundraising campaign for Big Brother/Big Sisters of America.

Video: Craig Finn – “Respective Coasts”

Spin chats with M. Ward.

Chart talks to Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws.

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Straight Up The Dial

Wavelength turns 11, throws a party

Photo via MyspaceMyspace Toronto’s venerable Wavelength might have closed out their weekly showcase series last year in favour of intermittent events throughout the year, but they’ve not given up their tradition of throwing a killer birthday party or five. As they’ve done in years past, Wavelength Eleven (or event #515 if you’re keeping track) will commandeer venues around this city from February 16 through 20 and fill them with many of the finest acts the city and outlying regions have to offer, spanning all styles and genres, frequently on the same bill.

I missed last year’s festivities but hit up one of the 9th anniversary shows in 2009 and it’s interesting to see that one of the undercard acts at that show – Hooded Fang – has already graduated to headline status. This they’ve done on the strength of their debut Album, released last October to considerable praise. And indeed, it’s an impressive first effort that reflects the remarkable rate at which they’ve improved as a band since first making noise in late ’08/early ’09 – I saw them three times over the course of 2009 and each time, most flaws I’d have pointed out for the time before had been sorted without diminishing the amount of fun they were clearly having on stage. Album‘s orchestrally-inclined power pop still tends a bit more to the precious/twee side of things than I’d like and can feel a bit samey over the course of its dozen songs, but the degree of songwriting, musicianship and genuine joy it captures is undeniable. As was clear in each of those live reviews from 2009, big things seem an inevitability for this crew.

Hooded Fang will be closing out the Saturday night of Wavelength Eleven at The Great Hall. The rest of the week’s events look like this – tickets for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows are $11 while Wednesday and Sunday are PWYC. There is also a $33 all-access passes available. Check in at Wavelength for descriptions of each act. has an interview with Hooded Fang.

Wednesday, February 16 @ Teranga – Anagram, Bruised Knees, The Guest Bedroom, The Jim Storie Juniors
Thursday, February 17 @ The Music Gallery – Kite Hill, Eiyn Sof, Gordon Grdina’s East Van Strings, Not The Wind, Not The Flag
Friday, February 18 @ The Steam Whistle Roundhouse – Woodhands, Minotaurs, Pat Jordache, Romo Roto, Doldrums
Saturday, February 19 @ The Great Hall – Hooded Fang, Maylee Todd, Little Girls, Eric Chenaux Electric Trio, Grimes
Sunday, February 20 @ The Garrison – Lullabye Arkestra, Neon Windbreaker, Simply Saucer, Ghostlight

MP3: Hooded Fang – “Laughing”
MP3: Hooded Fang – “Mutant Beart”
MP3: Woodhands – “Dissembler”
MP3: Eric Chenaux – “Warm Charleston”
MP3: Little Girls – “Growing”
MP3: Lullabye Arkestra – “We Fuck The Night”

In other just-announced live music happenings – guitar goddess Marnie Stern and prog-rockers Tera Melos will be at Wrongbar on March 8 as part of an extensive North American tour.

MP3: Marnie Stern – “For Ash”
MP3: Tera Melos – “Frozen Zoo”

We’re still some ways out from having a Canadian Musicfest schedule to pore over, but you’d be just silly to not keep staying at the Opera House all night – that’s the Billions showcase – circled on your calendar. The lineup will read like Land Of Talk, Hollerado, Cadence Weapon, Isis (ex. Thunderheist) and Little Scream, so while club-hopping is part of the CMF experience, there’s something to be said for staying put all night.

MP3: Land Of Talk – “Quarry Hymns”
MP3: Hollerado – “Americanarama”
MP3: Cadence Weapon – “Real Estate”

And I’m very excited that Sharon Van Etten, after many visits in a support capacity, will be playing her first headlining show here at the Drake on April 12 with Little Scream supporting – there’s a recording of her show at the Bowery in New York City last week up at NYC Taper. You may recall that her epic was one of my favourite albums of 2010, and she’s already started work on the follow-up with Aaron Dessner of The National.

MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”

The New Zealand Herald talks to The National’s Matt Berninger about their breakout year of 2010.

There’s a new video from Retribution Gospel Choir’s album 2.

Video: Retribution Gospel Choir – “Your Bird”

The Skinny talks to Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam about his new record Kiss Each Other Clean, due out January 25.

Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance discuss their visual artistic pursuits with Design Sponge.

Inara George of The Bird & The Bee chats with Spinner.

Pitchfork has a feature interview with Dan Bejar of Destroyer. His sax-y new album Kaputt arrives January 25 and he plays Lee’s Palace on March 31.

The Line Of Best Fit and NOW talk to Jonas Bonnetta of Evening Hymns about their new, nude video for “Dead Deer” from Spirit Guides. The band are currently out in the wilds of Ontario somewhere recording their next album, already dubbed Spectral Dusk – the proceedings are being documented on their Tumblr.

Video: Evening Hymns – “Dead Deer”

Diamond Rings’ John O’Regan discusses the therapeutic aspects of music with Spinner. He’s at the Sound Academy January 26 opening up for Robyn.

Monday, April 12th, 2010

The Monitor

Titus Andronicus, Hollerado and Sandman Viper Command at Sneaky Dee’s in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangKids and their punk rock. That none of the bands on the bill at Sneaky Dee’s on Friday night were really what anyone who gave it some thought would call punk was irrelevant – the youth of Toronto were out and were gonna get drunk and smash some shit up. And Titus Andronicus would be their soundtrack.

The evening began relatively politely, with Burlington’s Sandman Viper Command making a strong argument against the attitude that nothing good has ever come out of Burlington (that’s my attitude, anyways). The quartet, who have one album under their belt in last year’s Everybody See This, impressed with a breed of rock that clearly had its eye on interesting and unconventional musical horizons while keeping sight of the directness and melodicism of their garage-y roots. Usually the most a local act opening for a hotly-tipped touring act can hope for is politeness, but when their set was cut a bit short by frontman Rob Janson’s Gibson SG ceasing to function, there was genuine disappointment from the crowd.

That feeling wouldn’t last, however, as Hollerado – who proudly hail from Manotick, Ontario and not Ottawa thank you very much – would turn any frowns upside down with their set. Though almost a year has passed since I first saw them last June opening up for The Dead Weather at the Horseshoe, they were still working their debut Record In A Bag, though in the interim it had gone from free download to actual physical product you could buy (but it’s still available for free). Also the same as last time was the fact that they put on a fantastic show that made it clear that they knew that playing rock’n’roll was supposed to be fun and if there was one thing clear through their loud, tight riffs and big hooks was that they were having fun and when the band’s having fun, the audience is almost certainly having fun. Those seeking angst would find it in spades with the headliners.

It was last week that I declared my obsession/admiration for Titus Andronicus’ new record The Monitor, which is something that really took me entirely by surprise considering their debut The Airing Of Grievances didn’t make all that much of an impression when it was reissued last year. I suspect that put me in the minority of those who were piled into the front of Sneaky Dee’s as the Glen Rock, New Jersey band was setting up shop. If they weren’t already long-term believers, then they were new converts with the zeal that comes that and as soon as the band kicked things off with “A More Perfect Union”, it became very clear to me that my position up front and centre was a very bad place to be if I wanted to survive the night. After basically being pushed onstage and on top of frontman Patrick Stickles’ monitor and pedalboard, I fought my way towards the relative safety of the sides of the stage and let those hell-bent on moshing the night away do their thing.

Without my body to act as a buffer, the mosh pit quickly surged onto the stage and knocked out Stickles’ vocal monitors completely and his appeals to try and keep the bedlam off of his pedals so that he could keep playing looked like they were falling on deaf ears. And right there, in a nutshell, was the odd position that Titus Andronicus seemed to find themselves in with this record and tour – its scope, cerebralness and general awesomeness make The Monitor an album that deserves to be listened closely to, to be meditated upon, but their more visceral qualities – which are legion, especially live – will just make the kids want to freak out. They eventually gave up on the monitors, just crossed their fingers for their gear and aside from a request to try not to crush anyone, plowed ahead.

Now I’d heard many tales of Titus Andronicus’ live prowess at SxSW last month, but even forewarned it was something to behold. With slightly crazy eyes and a thick black beard, Stickles was a magnetic figure on stage, wringing out anthemic guitar lines from his abused Gretsch, screaming himself hoarse into the mic – in key, no less, despite not being able to hear himself – and even going for a crowd surf. And his bandmates managed to recreate far more of the sounds and nuances of The Monitor than we had any right to expect, thanks in particular to keyboardist David Robbins and second guitarist/violinist Amy Klein. As it should have, the set leaned heavily on The Monitor with some of the quieter tracks swapped out for a healthy selection of Grievances‘ raucousness – as such, the only lulls came within the songs and the overall energy level of the hour-plus performance never waned. When the last notes of “Four Score and Seven” rang out, all that was left was a haze – or daze – of sweat and beer and the understanding that as insane as the crowd was, the opportunity to have seen Titus play before their die-hards should be appreciated because as they continue to blow up – and they will – the number of fans whose musical appreciation manifests itself as head-nodding (which largely includes me, tis true) as well as the size of the rooms they play in will only grow. The bruises and aches will fade, but the memory of seeing Titus Andronicus utterly demolish a small club with a little help from their friends – that will remain. Titus Andronicus forever.

Live Music Project, Chart and eye also have reviews of the show. The Boston Herald, Hartford Courant and Philadelphia Inquirer talk to Patrick Stickles about the themes of The Monitor. Hollerado tells Chart why they’re giving away their old van and Brock Press interviews Sandman Viper Control, who have a neat video session over at Southern Souls.

Photos: Titus Andronicus, Hollerado, Sandman Viper Command @ Sneaky Dee’s – April 9, 2010
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part One)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Four Score And Seven” (Part Two)
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
MP3: Hollerado – “Juliette”
MP3: Hollerado – “Fake Drugs”
MP3: Hollerado – “Americanarama”
MP3: Sandman Viper Command – “Strawberry Quick”
MP3: Sandman Viper Command – “Oh Yeah, It’s Fusion”
ZIP: Hollerado / Record In A Bag
Video: Titus Andronicus – “A More Perfect Union”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
Video: Hollerado – “Juliette”
Video: Hollerado – “Americanarama”
MySpace: Titus Andronicus
MySpace: Hollerado

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review talks to Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers.

Daytrotter has posted up a session with The Dutchess & The Duke, who will be at the Sound Academy on June 15 opening up for The New Pornographers.

Bring Back The Boombox talks to Rolf Klausner of The Acorn, whose new album No Ghost comes out June 1.

The Sadies’ new album Darker Circles isn’t out till May 18 but is currently available to stream. They play Lee’s Palace on May 18 and Harbourfront Centre on Canada Day.

Stream: The Sadies / Darker Circles

Paste declares Timber Timbre the “best of what’s next”. He/they play the Toronto Island Concert on June 19.

The Besnard Lakes will be at the Mod Club on June 17 for what’s sure to be a NxNE-affiliated show.

MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “Albatross”

Chart has details on the unexpected return of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, who will curate this year’s Nightmare Before Christmas edition of All Tomorrow’s Parties, taking place December 3 to 5 in Minehead, UK and follow that up with a number of European and “9 american towns” before again fading into the shadows. Whether they mean “United States of” or “North” is unclear, and they’re unsurprisingly refusing to do press so the answer to whether or not they’ll be playing anywhere near here will have to wait until they say so.

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Made To Disappear

The Twilight Sad loses bassist, finds tourmates, hits road

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSome sad news out of Scotland this week when it was announced that Twilight Sad bassist Craig Orzel had decided to leave the band, effective immediately. He announced his departure in a blog post, though it’s not really clear what “waking up baw deep in a granny” means and if that had any effect on his decision.

Though losing a founding member is always tough on a band, the rest of the band are clearly ready to soldier on, with another single from last year’s Forget The Night Ahead – “The Room” – set for release on March 29 and a massive North American tour announced for the month of May. Unlike their Fall 2009 tour which saw them teaming up with their countrymen, this jaunt will pair them up with an outfit from considerably further away – Japan’s epic instrumentalists Mono. They have a new live album and film coming out on April 29 entitled Holy Ground: NYC Live with the Wordless Music Orchestra.

I’ve always wanted to see Mono – yes they’ve been through town a number of times, I just haven’t gone – and am always happy to be aurally assaulted by The Twilight Sad, so you can consider May 26, when the tour winds its way through Lee’s Palace in Toronto, circled on my calendar.

MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Reflection Of The Television”
MP3: Mono – “Follow The Map”
MP3: Mono – “Ashes In The Snow”

Other concert announcements this week include an in-store triple bill during Canadian Musicfest at Criminal Records. On March 13, they’ll play host to Aidan Knight, Dan Mangan and Hollerado, playing at 5PM, 6PM and 7PM respectively. As far as their festival showcases go, Knight is at the Global Backpackers Hostel on March 12, Mangan is at the Great Hall on the 11th and the Courthouse on the 12th and Hollerado at the Horseshoe on the 11th. CTV has an Olympics-themed interview with Mangan.

MP3: Hollerado – “Juliette”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”
MP3: Aidan Knight – “Jasper”

Adam Green has a date at the Mod Club on April 17 in support of his new record Minor Love, tickets $13.50. Clash, The Line Of Best Fit and Spinner have interviews.

Video: Adam Green – “What Makes Him Act So Bad”

On April 18, the Drake Underground will welcome White Hinterland and Dosh, both of whom have new records en route. White Hinterland’s Kairos is out March 9 while Dosh’s Tommy will be available on April 13.

MP3: White Hinterland – “Icarus”
MP3: White Hinterland – “No Logic”
MP3: Dosh – “Subtractions”

Here We Go Magic and White Rabbits are teaming up for a Spring tour that will stop in at Lee’s Palace on April 27. Here We Go Magic’s new album is due out sometime in the Spring; White Rabbits are still working last year’s It’s Frightening.

MP3: White Rabbits – “Percussion Gun”
Video: Here We Go Magic – “Fangela”

Northern Ireland’s Two Door Cinema Club will wrap up a North American tour with a May 17 date at Wrongbar, tickets $10 in advance. Their debut album Tourist History is out on April 27, and if you like mondo-catchy, jangly-dancey guitar pop, it/they should probably be on your radar.

MP3: Two Door Cinema Club – “I Can Talk”
MP3: Two Door Cinema Club – “Something Good Can Work”

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings are back with a new record in I Learned the Hard Way, out April 6, and will be hitting the road, with a May 25 date at the Sound Academy in Toronto – tickets $25.

Behold the new clip from Caribou’s new album Swim, due out April 20.

Video: Caribou – “Odessa”

Phantogram’s Josh Carter tries to describe what they do to The Washington Examiner. Find out for yourself at the Drake Underground on Saturday night.

El Perro Del Mar’s Sarah Assbring talks to NOW about the Lou Reed influence on her latest record Love Is Not Pop. She is at the Mod Club on Sunday night.

The Daily Record talks to Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit about The Winter Of Mixed Drinks, due out March 9. They are at the Opera House on May 4.

BBC6 talks to Friendly Fires about working on their second album.

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Hang You From The Heavens

The Dead Weather and Hollerado at the Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIt wasn’t technically a secret show – when the announcement was made, it was very clear as to what was going on – but considering the announcement came less than 36 hours before gig time, it was most definitely a surprise. The occasion was a show by The Dead Weather, a band whose existence was only revealed three months ago, but who by virtue of their pedigree were already one of the most talked-about new acts of the Summer. And it’s not hard to see why – their lineup features Jack White of White Stripes and Raconteurs fame, Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dean Fertita of Queens Of The Stone Age and Jack Lawrence, also of The Raconteurs.

Though their album Horehound wasn’t set for release until July 14, coinciding with a large North American tour, they were opting to play a couple of hugely undersized club shows to warm up and build excitement – last Friday night at the Magic Stick in White’s hometown of Detroit and on this night, at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, a room with a generously-rated capacity of 400 heads that’s hosted more than its share of massive bills, both surprise and secret.

A strict wristband policy targeted at both foiling scalpers and getting genuine fans into the gig ensured that there were lineups of people along Queen West for goodly portions of Saturday afternoon and early evening, but while it meant long waits, it seemed to be effective – once inside, everyone seemed genuinely excited to be there and in great anticipation for the show. And they’d have probably happily waited the three hours from doors till show time, but there was also an opening band on the bill, hand-picked by Jack White from a list of local-ish suggestions via MySpace auditions.

The winners of this lottery were Ottawa’s Hollerado, who were in town for a show the previous night at Lee’s Palace, and while opening up for The Dead Weather would be a highlight for any young band’s resume, it could have been a mixed blessing – after all, it was a chance to play in front of a packed house, sure, but also a crowd that had no idea who they were nor potentially any interest in hearing them. Fortunately for everyone, Hollerado put on a winning set that combined collegiate smart-alecky lyrics with barroom-approved rock and served them up with an entertaining stage show – you have to give points to a band that’s willing to drink beer soaked into and wrung out of the drummer’s sock. No wait, you don’t. But they put on a great set, almost certainly won themselves some new fans and most importantly, helped pass the time.

By this point, The Horseshoe was absolutely packed and disgustingly sweaty as roadies set up for the show, and even then Jack White’s attention to visuals was very much evident. All crew members were nattily dressed in dark suits with blue ties and fedoras and the guitars were all stunning white Gretsches with gold hardware. You didn’t have to be a guitar geek to be impressed – that was some seriously nice gear. And then at 11:30 sharp, the lights went out.

In White and Mosshart, The Dead Weather have in their ranks two of the most charismatic frontpersons in rock, and put together on a stage as small as the Horseshoe’s in front of an audience as pent up with excitement as this one, the result was combustible. White’s role as drummer (and sometime vocalist) keeps him at the back and though his presence was most definitely felt – there were noticably no cymbal stands or any sort of hardware to obstruct the view of the biggest star onstage – it was hard to keep your eyes of Mosshart. Not just because she’s got that gloriously strung out sex appeal, but with her whipping hair, leopardskin coat and sheer rock goddess presence, it was impossible to look away. As good as she is with The Kills, hearing her equally sultry and sinister rasp front a massive-sounding, blues-soaked rock band staying to just the right side of sludgy is even better. It may not be as engagingly creative and catchy as her other gig with its punk and electro hybridism, but it sure as hell feels right.

To appreciate The Dead Weather, I had to get out of my pop-ist mindset because they are not about hooks or melodies or the other markers I usually look for in my music. This isn’t to say they’re not there, but they’re secondary to the mighty riff, be it on organ or guitar, the deep, muscular groove and the sheer attitude. And the volume. The Dead Weather may have been playing a small club but they blasted it like it was an arena. And while their songs certainly excelled in those departments, I didn’t find them individually to be especially memorable or exceptional – they were more just vehicles for the massive talents, musicianship and personalities of those delivering them and in that sense, they were triumphs.

With just an album’s worth of material, their show ran just over an hour long with the main set coming to its obvious but no less potent climax when White climbed out from behind the kit, strapped on a guitar and performed, “Will There Be Enough Water?” as a slow-burning duet with Mosshart punctuated by a searing solo the likes of which he’s more known for in his other bands. It was a finale that was tough to top, but that didn’t stop them from coming out with a two-song encore that wrapped with their current single, the snarling “Hang You From The Heavens”, and after gathering in front to acknowledge the rapturous applause, the four were gone, leaving their exhausted but utterly satisfied fans to recover at their own pace. They’ll be back for a full-sized gig at the Kool Haus on July 22 and while the vast majority of those there for that show will probably think it’ll be a great, wholly memorable performance, anyone amongst the few hundred who were able to catch one of the band’s very first gigs – I think this was their fourth or fifth-ever liver show – will know that however good that Kool Haus show is, it won’t have compared to this one.

Both The Globe & Mail and The Toronto Sun were in attendance on Saturday and have reviews. Black Book and The Times have interviews with the band, The Los Angeles Times, The Globe & Mail and Canadian Press talk to Jack White and The Courier-Journal chats with Jack Lawrence. The band are offering a download of album track “Treat Me Like Your Mother” in exchange for your email address.

Photos: The Dead Weather, Hollerado @ The Horseshoe – June 13, 2009
Video: The Dead Weather – “Hang You From The Heavens”
ZIP: Hollerado / Record In A Bag
MySpace: Hollerado

That’s it for today. I used up all my random linkage on Saturday.