Posts Tagged ‘Immaculate Machine’

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Another Runaway

Ladyhawke, Semi Precious Weapons, Woodhands and Anjulie at the Opera House in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangOne can’t help but feel some satisfaction that the gossip king’s much-ballyhooed tour should be undone so quickly by the sort of offstage drama that’s typically the bread and butter of gossip bloggers. Not even a week into the tour and co-headliner Ida Maria was already generating the wrong sort of buzz, playing gigs drunk and disinterestedly, then walking off the stage in Boston and cancelling New York due to “illness”, to say nothing of weak attendance throughout. So it wasn’t much surprise that on Thursday, the day of the Toronto show, it was announced that Ida Maria had left the tour due to that same “illness” and substitute acts would be added to the bills of the next few dates.

Any degree of schadenfreude, however, was tempered by the fact that the lineup was now down one good headliner – I’ll just add this to the ongoing list of Ida Maria near misses (two cancelled SxSW appearances in March due to visa issues and her dropping off the Glasvegas tour early in April – and it was really the people who were going to show who were losing out. I was still committed to attend thanks to the continued presence of Ladyhawke on the bill. Semi Precious Weapons also remained in the lineup and the Toronto bill was rounded by a couple of hometown acts, Woodhands and Anjulie.

Anjulie I knew from the posters for V Fest, where she’d been one of the Radio stage performers, and that was enough to make me think I wasn’t going to be particularly interested in her. And no, while urban/r&b pop is not my thing, there’s no discounting that this girl is good at it – great voice, great look and thankfully not given to oversinging or the diva hand, and a #1 Billboard single to boot. Playing with a tight band and backing singers, she delivered a short but varied set covering a good range of styles and had enough old-school Motown and soul nods to please, which still sounding wholly contemporary. Hometown girl done good, indeed.

So while I kind of suspect Anjulie would have been a special guest whether Ida Maria had been on the bill or not, Woodhands were almost certainly an eleventh-hour addition to fill out the bill. And while a Perez Hilton show might seem a weird place for the local indie synth-rock heroes to show up, sonically they actually fit in quite well with the sort of dancey pop theme of the evening/tour – big beats, fat synths and frantic and fun delivery from Dan Werb. Though they’ve got a reputation as one of the most enjoyable live acts in the city, I’d never actually seen them in full, plugged-in fashion before and now that I have? I’ll give ’em the thumbs up.

The audience had been slowly filling in through the evening and while not nearly sold-out – I would put attendance at around 450 tops, and that includes the local acts’ probably-sizeable guest lists – it was pretty jammed up near the front for Semi Precious Weapons and why not? This was the first act of the night that the people would have actually paid to come and see (besides Hilton himself, who was not in attendance. Instead, we got weird little video-screen introductions with him looking like Max Headroom). Which went well with the Perez-curated video clips that constituted the between set music, giving me a look at top-40 music that I really didn’t need. Anyways.

I’d been told that if nothing else, Semi Precious Weapons were fun to photograph and yeah, they would have been if the entire night hadn’t been defined by horrid backlighting that made getting anything decent pretty much impossible. Which meant that I head to enjoy them on their musical merits which, I have to saw, were few. They offer transgressive glam-rock for the mall-punk set, which basically means a lot of swearing and sophomoric pottymouth banter about boobs, sex and general self-aggrandizing interspersed with high-energy if unremarkable rock songs and shout-along choruses, all delivered with over the top costumes and on-stage antics. If that sounds specifically formulated to get a response, that’s because it is and it does. This isn’t to say it wasn’t entertaining and the excitement elicited from the crowd a real boost to the evening’s energy, but not necessarily something I need to see or hear again.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd did thin out some following Semi Precious Weapons but it was still a decent-sized and enthusiastic audience on hand to welcome Pip Brown for her first Toronto appearance – and hey, less people means more room on the floor to dance. I had seen her play at SxSW and while the quality of the tunes from her self-titled debut – recently re-released with more goodies – were unimpeachable (if you like hook-laden, ’80s-flavoured synth-rock), the performance itself was generally workmanlike and not especially noteworthy and as such, my expectations weren’t the highest. It was a pleasant surprise, then, to see that Brown has upped her game in the live setting or perhaps that night at Stubb’s had been an off one – either way, her show this time out was much better. It’s hard to quantify how or why, exactly – she’s still not the most animated or charismatic performer – but she seemed much more comfortable on stage and that looseness carried over into the music. Delivered by a five-piece band, the Ladyhawke material sounded much more guitar guitar-driven live than on album – all the necessary synth parts were accounted for, but the guitars were louder and rawer. They dished out all the singles and “up” tracks from the record plus an old b-side for about 50 minutes of pop bliss. Never mind the sponsor, never mind the circus, this show was Ladyhawke’s show and it was great.

There’s a review at ChartAttack. City Sonic has a video feature on Woodhands and the Don Valley Brickworks, site of one of their most memorable – and illegal – gigs. Long way from that to Perez Presents.

Photos: Ladyhawke, Semi Precious Weapons, Woodhands, Anjulie @ The Opera House – September 17, 2009
MP3: Ladyhawke – “My Delirium”
MP3: Semi Precious Weapons – “Semi Precious Weapons”
MP3: Woodhands – “Dancer”
MP3: Woodhands – “I Wasn’t Made For Fighting”
Video: Ladyhawke – “Paris Is Burning”
Video: Ladyhawke – “My Delirium”
Video: Ladyhawke – “Dusk Till Dawn”
Video: Ladyhawke – “Back Of The Van”
Video: Semi Precious Weapons – “Magnetic Baby”
Video: Semi Precious Weapons – “Rock N Roll Never Looked So Beautiful”
Video: Semi Precious Weapons – “Her Hair Is On Fire”
Video: Semi Precious Weapons – “Semi Precious Weapons”
Video: Woodhands – “I Wasn’t Made For Fighting”
Video: Anjulie – “Boom”
Video: Anjulie – “Love Songs”
Video: Anjulie – “Day Will Come Soon”
MySpace: Ladyhawke
MySpace: Semi Precious Weapons
MySpace: Woodhands
MySpace: Anjulie

Aussies The Temper Trap, finally turning some early-year buzz into success thanks to (500) Days Of Summer, will be in town for a free show at the Horseshoe on October 20.

Video: The Temper Trap – “Science Of Fear”
Video: The Temper Trap – “Sweet Disposition”

Also free at the ‘Shoe the following week – October 27 – is Seattle garage rock outfit The Blakes, whose new record Souvenir is out October 13. Check out a track from the new record courtesy of Under The Radar.

MP3: The Blakes – “Ramshackle Hearse”

It’ll be an east-meets-west thing at the Horsesehoe on November 5 as Victoria’s Immaculate Machine meet up with Halifax’s Dog Day, tickets $10.

MP3: Dog Day – “Rome”
MP3: Immaculate Machine – “Sound The Alarms”

Patrick Watson has a date at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on December 12, where he probably hopes to be introduced as “two-time and current Polaris Music Prize winner”.

Which segues nicely into the fact that the Polaris Prize is being awarded tonight. Exclaim ran a feature last week wherein the examined the possible gender and geographic biases that exist within the jury, though I have to say that as a Toronto-based male, I don’t see what all the hubub is about. Har Har. Oh, I am also the latest (last?) subject of the “Better Know A Juror” feature on the Polaris website. Read it and know my most innermost thoughts and feelings. So let’s talk about your feelings. Who do you think will win? Should win?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Stickin' It To The Man

Festival announcements big and small from Over The Top, Olympic Island and Pitter Patter

Photo By Autumn de WildeAutumn de WildeThere might be question marks around whether or not we’ll see 2009 editions of big Toronto events like V Fest, but for the eighth year running, the city will host Over The Top Fest in May and showcase an eclectic range of acts in clubs around the city for a weekend in May, this year the 21st through the 24th. The official website is still having the finishing touches put on it but the lineup was announced last week at Stille Post and, as expected, there’s a whole lot of acts I’ve never heard of. But considering the festival has, in years past, welcomed the likes of Of Montreal, Grizzly Bear and Matt & Kim amongst many, many others – all before they became the international superstars they are today – you ignore the unfamiliar names at your indie cred peril.

This year’s edition is somewhat smaller than past years – there’s a recession going on, dontcha know – but still pretty packed. I’ll leave you to peruse the artists yourself, but names that jump out – even if not up my particular alley – include Japanese noise experimentalist Merzbow at the Polish Combatants Hall on May 21, Arcade Fire/Unicorns alumnus Clues, whose self-titled debut is out May 19, at Sneaky Dees on May 21 and Montreal dance-punk maniacs Think About Life at the Polish Combatants Hall on the 22nd. The most interesting one to me – and probably the only show I’ll make it out to – is New York pre-teen sibling duo Tiny Masters Of Today. You might expect an act with a set up like that playing punk rock music might be pure novelty, but their sophomore album Skeletons, out June 16, is surprisingly sophisticated and really sounds good, whatever their age. They’re playing the Whippersnapper Gallery on May 23.

And in addition, there’s film and theatre components to the festival and promises of a “concert on a transit bus, BBQ and Acoustic Concert” for closing festivities on the Sunday, May 24. Tickets for many of the shows are already available on Ticketweb (see Stille Post link for links), will be available in stores this week and a limited number of festival passes will also be made available.

MP3: Tiny Masters Of Today – “K.I.D.S.”
MP3: Tiny Masters Of Today – “La La Land”
MP3: Clues – “Perfect Fit”
MP3: Clues – “Remember Severed Head”
MP3: Think About Life – “Paul Cries”
Video: Tiny Masters Of Today – “Skeletons”

Also announced yesterday was the 2009 edition of the Olympic Island show, which is an almost-annual tradition but you can never be absolutely sure when it’s going to be, who’s going to play or if it’s even going to happen. The answers to all those questions, however, are July 11, Broken Social Scene, who are playing for the fifth time out of the six the party has been held, Explosions In The Sky, Thunderheist, Beach House, Apostle Of Hustle and Rattlesnake Choir, and yes it is (obviously). With V still being a big old question mark, this could be the city’s one opportunity to rock out and piss off the islanders, and having had almost three years elapse since I last saw the Scene, I think I’m getting eager to catch them live again. Tickets are $57.50 including ferry to and from the islands, though CFNY (that’s “Edge 102” to those of you under the age of 30) has a limited number available for $39.50 – 1021 tickets, according to Chart.

The Book Is Broken, a book documenting the story of Broken Social scene, will be out May 16. Thunderheist are the cover feature on this month’s Exclaim and their self-titled debut came out at the end of March and they play The Phoenix on April 30. Apostle Of Hustle’s new album Eats Darkness is out May 19 and he plays the Music Gallery on May 29.

MP3: Broken Social Scene presents Brendan Canning – “Hit The Wall”
MP3: Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew – “TBTF”
MP3: Explosions In The Sky – “Welcome, Ghosts”
MP3: Thunderheist – “Jerk It”
MP3: Beach House – “Gila”

And also recently announced was this year’s edition of Pitter Patter Fest which, if not as big in profile or stature as either of the aforementioned events, is certainly the largest in geographical terms. Though centered in Toronto, Pitter Patter events will be happening all over southern Ontario, from London to Guelph to Peterborough to Belleville – 150 bands, 10 cities and four nights from May 28 to 31 – and feature the likes of Dog Day, The Craft Economy, The Diableros, Great Bloomers, Fjord Rowboat, Megan Hamilton and Spiral Beach to name but a very few who’ve been covered on this site in the past. All shows are pay-what-you-can and the schedule, which will probably see many of the bands playing numerous dates and cities, is still forthcoming.

Sonic Boom Records up in the Annex will celebrate Record Store Day this Saturday, April 18, with a in-store mini-fest featuring Little Girls, Steamboat, Green Go, Gentleman Reg, Sunparlour Players, Lullabye Arkestra and Slim Twig. No idea of specific set times but it starts at 4PM and the store closes at midnight. You do the math. Admission is free but donations of non-perishable food items is strongly encouraged.

As for Gentleman Reg, he’s spending his Spring on tour in support of Jet Black, first with The Stills and then A Camp, including their June 1 date at the Mod Club.

MP3: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”
Video: Gentleman Reg – “We’re In A Thunderstorm”

Immaculate Machine will release their new record High On Jackson Hill on April 28, right in the midst of an Ontario tour that includes a stop at the Drake Underground on April 30.

MP3: Immaculate Machine – “Sound The Alarm”

Pink Mountaintops have a date at the Horseshoe on June 14 in support of their new album Outside Love, out May 5. Tickets for that are $11.50.

MP3: Pink Mountaintops – “Vampire”

Full details are still forthcoming, but Holy Fuck are one of the acts playing this year’s Beats, Breaks and Culture fest at Harbourfront Centre – they’re playing July 10, and as always, this show is free to all.

MP3: Holy Fuck – “Lovely Allen”

The Decemberists have announced the second leg of their North American tour in support of Hazards Of Love, and it includes an August 3 date at the Kool Haus with The Heartless Bastards as support. Tickets are $30.50 and go on sale Thursday.

MP3: Heartless Bastards – “Searching For the Ghost” (acoustic)
MP3: Heartless Bastards – “The Mountain”