Posts Tagged ‘Kings Of Leon’

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011


Low and Memoryhouse at The Mod Club in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangYou’re not wrong, it really had been forever since Low last headlined a show in Toronto – well over five years, to be exact. It may not have seemed that long, what with them having been here supporting Wilco at Massey Hall in July 2007 and Alan Sparhawk having brought his Retribution Gospel Choir through town a number of times in the interim, but yes. Low sightings in Toronto have been, well, low.

The drought finally ended on Monday night at the Mod Club, however, with Duluth’s finest in town to support their latest effort C’Mon, their first in four years and that, I suppose, is all the explanation you’d need for why they haven’t visited. And as a return, it feels like a “where we’ve been” over the last decade or so. It predominantly resembles 2002’s Trust, with its warm, organic tones and relatively unadorned production, but you don’t have to dig too deep to uncover some of The Great Destroyer‘s overt rock moves or Drums And Guns dark and crushing paranoia. It’s noteworthy that while that sequence of records confused and alienated much of their long-time fanbase – but won new devotees – blended together as they are on C’Mon they actually make a lot of sense and as such, it might be their most broadly satisfying record in some time.

Support for the evening were local dreampop ensemble and recent Sub Pop signees Memoryhouse. I first saw them back in December and while I liked much of what they were doing musically, those who criticized their live performances as being rather sleepy had a point. Perhaps in response, the Memoryhouse who took the stage on this evening were a full and proper band, with a rhythm section joining principals Evan Abeele and Denise Nouvion and made for a still low key but more confident band up there than the one I saw a few months ago. Nouvion, in particular, was clearly more comfortable in the role of frontwoman, even working some dance steps into the show. And while this configuration certainly did what one would hope, filled out the sound and gave it some weight, it also made them more conventional-sounding; not necessarily a bad thing, but when there was all that space, it left more to the imagination. But even so, as a preview of their debut full-length due out before the end of the year, it ably demonstrated why one of the premier record labels around would be so keen to get them under contract. I look forward to seeing and hearing them grow.

Ask people what they’d expect a Low show to sound like and they’d probably respond with one or all of: slow, solemn, with beautiful harmonies from Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker and maybe a guitar freakout or ten. But handclaps and drum machines? Maybe not so much. So that their show opened exactly so with “Breaker” would serve as notice that the evening might not be so predictable. Okay, it was still all of the things noted above, but still surprising in a number of respects, not least of all that they were here as a quartet with Sparhawk’s compatriots from the Retribution Gospel Choir on bass on keys. But most significant was that despite having released their warmest-sounding record in years and playing just about all of it over the course of the show, live it took on a decidedly different character. It was slower, starker and aside from a few moments of lightness, if you hadn’t heard the record you might have thought the band was continuing on with the grim Drums And Guns aesthetic.

Perhaps the tension was just reflecting on the unspoken mood of the crowd, what with this being federal election night and the returns coming in over the course of their set not reflecting what the presumably left-leaning audience would have liked to see. Adding to the atmosphere was the fact that Sparhawk didn’t speak a word to the audience through the entire show, and only then because he flubbed the intro to their final song. At that point he chastised his own country for taking to the streets to celebrate an assassination and lauded ours, only to be informed that we might not be far behind – at which point they closed out, perhaps appropriately given the topics of conversation, with “Murderer”. The encore offered a bit of uplift, with Sparhawk not so subtly inquiring as to where one might acquire some pot and dedicating to us “Canada” before closing things out with a grand reading of “When I Go Deaf”, offering a most welcome bit of a catharsis and making the next four years – whether until the next election or when Low finally return again – seem just a bit more bearable.

The National Post has a review of the show, while The Boston Globe and New Haven Advocate have interviews. The Alternate Side has an interview and session.

Photos: Low, Memoryhouse @ The Mod Club – May 2, 2011
MP3: Low – “Especially Me”
MP3: Low – “Try To Sleep”
MP3: Low – “Silver Rider”
MP3: Low – “Murderer”
MP3: Low – “Breaker”
MP3: Low – “California”
MP3: Low – “Monkey”
MP3: Low – “In Metal”
MP3: Low – “Sunflower”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Troisieme)”
MP3: Memoryhouse – “Gian Lorenzo Bernini”
Video: Low – “Try To Sleep”
Video: Low – “Belarus”
Video: Low – “In Silence”
Video: Low – “Breaker”
Video: Low – “California”
Video: Low – “Death Of A Salesman”
Video: Low – “Monkey”
Video: Low – “Hatchet”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Heirloom”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Bonfire”
Video: Memoryhouse – “Lately (Deuxieme)”

The disappointment at there not being any local dates for the Archers Of Loaf reunion has been mitigated somewhat by the fact that Eric Bachmann is still coming to town this Summer – he is bringing Crooked Fingers to the Horseshoe on July 3, tickets $13.50. Who knows what they’ll be playing – a new record is due out sometime this year – or even who’s in the band, but happiness is still the correct response. Update: The new record is called Breaks in the Armor and it’s out in October.

MP3: Crooked Fingers – “Angelina”

Urge Overkill are readying their first new record in pretty much forever with Rock & Roll Submarine, out next week, and are coming to town for the first time since NXNE 2007. Look for them and their medallions at The Horseshoe on July 7, tickets $15.50. Illinois Entertainer and Music Radar have feature pieces on the band’s return.

Video: Urge Overkill – “Positive Bleeding”

Cold Cave – last seen (or not seen given their fondness for playing in the dark) opening up for The Kills this past weekend – have scheduled a headlining date at The Horseshoe on July 14 as part of a Summer tour, tickets $15.

MP3: Cold Cave – “Villains Of The Moon”
MP3: Cold Cave – “The Great Pan Is Dead”
Video: Cold Cave – “Villains Of the Moon”

Sonny & The Sunsets bring their new record Hit After Hit to Sneaky Dee’s on July 24.

MP3: Sonny & The Sunsets – “I Wanna Do It”
Video: Sonny & The Sunsets – “Reflections On Youth”

Acknowledging that making people choose between themselves and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart show at The Opera House on the same evening, Beirut and Owen Pallett & Les Mouches have added an August 4 show at the Phoenix to go along with the previously announced and sold out August 2 show at the same venue. Tickets are again $32.50 and will again surely sell out.

MP3: Beirut – “Postcards From Italy”
MP3: Owen Pallett – “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”

Continuing their mandate of only playing with other bands who are nonsensical clubs, Two Door Cinema Club are teaming up with Bombay Bicycle Club for a Fall North American tour that includes a September 17 stop at The Phoenix. Joining them will be The Lonely Forest, who have apparently convinced the other two that they are also a club. Or maybe just have a clubhouse.

MP3: The Lonely Forest – “Coyote”
Video: Two Door Cinema Club – “What You Know”
Video: Bombay Bicycle Club – “My God”

Kings Of Leon have made an October 11 date at the Air Canada Centre with Band Of Horses supporting.

MP3: Band Of Horses – “Factory”
Video: Kings Of Leon – “Sex On Fire”

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Let Me Have This

NYC Popfest with The Radio Dept, Pants Yell!, The Secret History, Eux Autres and Computer Perfection at the Bell House in Brooklyn

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’ve been to a LOT of shows in the past decade or so, and as such my list of bands whom I’m still waiting to see live is pretty short by this point – and last week, it got one big name shorter when I got to see reclusive Swedes The Radio Dept not once but twice in New York thanks to their headliner status at NYC Popfest. The venue for the big show was the Bell House in Brooklyn, a good-sized venue with a vibey bar/lounge up front and a nicely-laid out if horribly-lit live music room in back. Though The Radio Dept remain very much a cult band, the show was well sold out – probably with no shortage of fans like myself willing to make a pilgrimage to catch one of their rare live performances. And do some shopping. Hey, any excuse to plan a trip to New York City.

In addition to The Radio Dept was a lineup of four other bands who, like those who played the previous night were all unknown to me but who hopefully would make more of an impression. Leadoff hitters Computer Perfection, a five-piece outfit hailing from the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, were a promising start, blending sunny indiepop staples (jangly guitars, he-she harmonies) with more electronic elements and some unconventional song structures. They had a lot of ideas going on and mostly got them to work – they’re coming to Toronto for NxNE with a show at Holy Joe’s on Friday, June 19.

California’s Eux Autres traded in some of the preceding act’s sophistication for a more direct and classic tact, relying on great tunes, melodies and a lot of energy to make their point. The trio, led by brother and sister Heather and Nicholas Larimer delivered the right balance of sweet pop and punchy rock to impress – thumbs up.

The Secret History, from New York, took things big again, with a seven-piece band including two female singers and an impressive lineage. Lead singer Lisa Ronson is the daughter of former Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson and many members, including chief songwriter Michael Grace Jr, used to be in cult pop heroes My Favourite. Stylistically, they were rooted in big, lush retro-pop but willing to turn up and rock out – no twee merchants here. Versatile and tight, their set was upbeat and enjoyable and their sound decidedly different from what I’d been subsisting on most of the weekend to that point. Good stuff.

Pants Yell! had made the drive down from Boston and brought with them some of that city’s unmistakable college rock vibe. Relative to the other bands on the bill, they were more taut and jaggy, though still highly melody-friendly and not out of place as something called Popfest. To close out their set, they brought out Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, with whom they would be playing some shows, to sing a couple songs with them. By this point I was starting to fade and was conserving my energy for the final act, so I can’t really tell you more than that.

Now even though I was anxious enough to see The Radio Dept live to make a road trip out of it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I expected them to put on a great show. After all, this was an outfit that was famously reclusive, played out very infrequently and whose records were very much studio creations (even if the studio in question sounded like a bedroom) – not really a recipe for an epic live show. But regardless, an opportunity to see they who’d created music so dear to me was not to be passed up and so I went.

The Friday night show at Don Hill’s was advertised as a “warm-up show” but it was hardly a dry run. Their eight-song set ran over half an hour – a full showcase at some festivals – and even though they had no drummer, no bassist and played over a significant amount of pre-recorded backing tracks – usually things that’d put me right off – they still grabbed the heartstrings. It’s the songs. It didn’t matter how they did it, but they came off with all the beautiful melancholy the records carried without sounding like a karaoke act. Favouring the cleaner sonic aesthetic of their more recent works, both Martin Carlberg and Johan Duncanson reproduced their surprisingly intricate guitar parts flawlessly, Carlberg’s vocals were resonant with yearning and resignation and the feeling of being wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of sound very much in effect. True, their onstage charisma was nearly non-existent – they seemed awkward and uncertain how to respond to the enthusiasm of the audience – but even that fit perfectly with their persona.

And that again was much the case at the Bell House show, and though they didn’t necessarily sound better or seem more assured onstage – they may actually have seemed less, with much conferring between songs about what they were playing even though a set list had been drafted. But despite all that, this show felt grander and more momentous – even though the occasion of finally seeing them live had been taken care of the night before, this still felt like the show that I had come to see.

The set was longer, though at maybe 50 minutes still much shorter than most everyone in attendance would have liked, and both Lesser Matters and Pet Grief were well represented, as well as some EP and b-side tracks and a few new tunes which should appear on Clinging To A Scheme if/when it’s finally released – when asked when to expect it, Carlberg guessed, “August? September?” (their new EP David is confirmed for a June 24 release).

As far as musical pilgrimages go, this one was decidedly on the understated side but it – and the just getting away from home if just for a few days – was just what I needed. It’s been intimated that upon the record’s release, there’ll be more touring on this side of the Atlantic. I’m not holding my breath on that but do hope there’s truth to it. A Radio Dept show will always be a good excuse for a trip.

Photos: The Radio Dept, Pants Yell!, The Secret History, Eux Autres, Computer Perfection @ The Bell House – May 16, 2009
MP3: The Radio Dept – “Freddie and the Trojan Horse”
MP3: The Radio Dept – “The Worst Taste in Music”
MP3: The Radio Dept – “A Window”
MP3: The Radio Dept – “Pulling Our Weight”
MP3: The Radio Dept – “Why Won’t You Talk About It?”
MP3: Pants Yell! – “Kids Are The Same”
MP3: Pants Yell! – “Your Feelings Don’t Show”
MP3: Pants Yell! – “My Boyfriend Writes Plays”
MP3: Pants Yell! – “Onward Sailboat”
MP3: Pants Yell! – “The Not Society Life”
MP3: Eux Autres – “When I’m Up”
MP3: Eux Autres – “Ecoutez Bien”
MP3: Computer Perfection – “Able Archer”
MP3: Computer Perfection – “The Fool Is Hurt”
MP3: Computer Perfection – “How I Won The War”
MP3: Computer Perfection – “Sweetie Pie”
Video: The Radio Dept. – “The Worst Taste In Music”
Video: The Radio Dept. – “Where Damage Isn’t Already Done”
Video: The Radio Dept. – “Pulling Our Weight”
Video: Eux Autres – “Anne Boleyn”
MySpace: The Radio Dept.
MySpace: Pants Yell!
MySpace: Eux Autres
MySpace: Computer Perfection

Apparently someone thought that revealing the NxNE schedule via Twitter would be a good idea. That person was wrong. In addition to the Thursday showcases announced yesterday, it seems that No Age’s showcase will be happening on Friday, June 19, at Lee’s Palace.

MP3: No Age – “Eraser”

Dirty Projectors will be supporting TV On The Radio at the Sound Academy on June 2 but for those who can’t or won’t go to that show, take heart – they will return for their own show at Lee’s Palace on June 24. Their new album Bitte Orca is out June 9.

MP3: Dirty Projectors – “Rise Above”

Punk legends The New York Dolls will be at Lee’s Palace on June 30, tickets $29.50, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears support. The Doll’s new album Cause I Sez So is out now.

Steve Earle will bring Townes to Massey Hall on July 11. Earle talks to NPR about the new record.

MP3: Steve Earle – “To Live Is To Fly”

Norway’s Casiokids have a date at the El Mocambo on August 5.

Video: Casiokids – “Fot I Hose”

As promised, Glasvegas are returning to North America this Fall… but it’s as support for Kings Of Leon. Dates have been announed for September 17 at Scotiabank Plaza in Ottawa, September 19 at Copp’s Coliseum in Hamilton and September 20 at the John Labbat Centre in London. Obviously there’s a conspicuous open date and no Toronto gig – Kings Of Leon were here last month, can they swing another arena show so soon while playing these other nearby markets? And if not, will Glasvegas be doing their own show to satisfy those who didn’t make it into their Mod Club gig in April? I don’t know but I suspect yes.

Also back again following their sold out club gig in MarchWhite Lies, this time for a show at the Phoenix on September 26.

MP3: White Lies – “Death”

Saturday, February 7th, 2009


Ladytron hit the road, release new remix EP

Photo via NettwerkNettwerkA quick Saturday post to round up a bunch of concert announcements from the end of this week.

Liverpool’s Ladytron are continuing to celebrate the excellence of last year’s Velocifero by laying out a North American tour that kicks off in April and comes to the Phoenix on the 6th of that month. It’s a co-headlining jaunt with The Faint, who themselves are continuing to work their 2008 release Fasciination. Their free show at Harbourfront last July was a highlight of the Summer and I’m very much looking forward to knowing even more of their repertoire this time around, as I’ve had a half-year to devour their previous record, Witching Hour.

Ladytron are also bringing something new(ish) to the table with a new digital EP for forthcoming single “Tomorrow”, which will also feature a number of remixes including the one below. It’ll be available March 3. The band are also working with Christina Aguilera on her new record. Yes, really.

MP3: Ladytron – “Tomorrow” (Vector Lovers Lucky Remix)
Video: Ladytron – “Runaway”
Video: Ladytron – “Ghosts”

Los Campesinos! will bring the second of their two 2008 releases, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed to the Opera House on April 1, tickets $15. Their current US tour has yielded features on the band at 77 Square, The Tech, Wicked Local and The Houston Chronicle.

MP3: Los Campesinos! – “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed”
MP3: Los Campesinos! – “Miserabilia”

The band Los Campesinos are currently touring with, Titus Andronicus, are also coming to town this Spring but it’ll be on April 12 at the Horseshoe as support to Lucero. Ben Nichols, singer for Lucero, just released a solo mini-album in The Last Pale Light in the West. Nichols talked to Nashville Scene about the band’s plans for 2009.

MP3: Lucero – “The Mountain”
MP3: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”
Video: Titus Andronicus – “Titus Andronicus”

Kings Of Leon have a date at the Air Canada Centre on April 21.

Coldplay have put together another North American tour but the Toronto date, set for July 29, is currently list as venue TBA. Of course, the fact that this is being advertised as an amphitheatre tour makes it likely that the venue will be the Molson Amphitheatre, but maybe they’re just trying to make themselves elusive for Joe Satriani’s lawyers.