Posts Tagged ‘Laura Stevenson & The Cans’

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Oblique City

Phoenix rises with new festival and cross-border shopping opportunities

Photo By Arnaud PotierArnaud PotierAs It’s been kind of funny to see the incredulity that has that has met the announcement of Phoenix as a top-billed act as the Summer’s festival lineups are rolled out in the US and Europe, with people scoffing “since when are Phoenix festival headliners?”. The answer, of course, being “since they began headlining festivals” – which is to say this year, following the massive success of 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and in anticipation of the April 23 release of Bankrupt!.

This elevation is obviously good news for those headed to Coachella, Primavera, or what have you – as well as for the French band, who are finding themselves in the enviable position of being able to gold plate anything they like – but is less good news for cities who don’t host big A-list Summer festivals… which includes Toronto. And while the return of something even on the scale of Virgin Fest seems unlikely – though you may recall Phoenix played the first one way back in 2006 with a decidedly non-headlining, early afternoon slot – we’re actually doing pretty well with somewhat smaller to-dos, particularly ones that are in a position to align with more established festivals relatively nearby. This year’s inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest is drafting quite nicely off of Ottawa Bluesfest and Montreal Jazz Fest, and yesterday’s announcement of The Grove Fest, taking place August 3 at The Commons at Butler’s Barracks in Niagara-On-The-Lake – looks to take full advantage of being located midway between Montreal and Chicago on Osheaga/Lollapalooza weekend.

Phoenix will headline this event – if that wasn’t obvious from the opening paragraph – and be joined by a diverse bill including Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pretty Lights, The Gaslight Anthem, Bob Mould, Earl Sweatshirt, Wavves, Icona Pop, Palma Violets, Young Empires, and Nightbox. It’s a lineup that spans the globe, is heavy on the dance party vibe but with a decent dollop of guitar angst. The bill actually feels like those Rogers Picnics that ran for a few years down at Fort York in that there’s something to satisfy everyone and something to annoy everyone – mostly Macklemore, I would imagine.

Early bird tickets go on sale today at 10AM for $74.50, and after those are gone regular passes are $79.50; VIP tickets are available for $140. And no, Niagara-On-The-Lake is NOT in Toronto, but a 90-minute straight shot down the QEW isn’t bad, and if you want to make a long weekend getaway out of it, Buffalo is just across the border. And you know you’ve been looking for an excuse to go to Buffalo.

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Phoenix.

Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Video: Girl Talk – “All Day”
Video: Hot Chip – “Night & Day”
Video: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop”
Video: Pretty Lights – “So Bright” (live)
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “45”
Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Wavves – “Sail To The Sun”
Video: Icona Pop – “I Love It”
Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends
Video: Young Empires – “White Doves”
Video: Nightbox – “Relocate You”

And just as the likes of Field Trip and TURF further entrench Garrison Commons at Fort York as one of Toronto’s go-to Summer concert venues and former War Of 1812 battlegrounds as great places to throw parties – if only Olympic Island had seen bloodshed, perhaps it would have remaind in favour – southern Ontario concertgoers may want to keep Niagara-On-The-Lake’s Butler’s Barracks in their GPS. On June 29, it will also hosting a one-day mini-fest headlined by City & Colour and supported by Metric, Jimmy Eat World, Serena Ryder, and Yukon Blonde. Tickets for that are $64.75 and on sale now.

MP3: Metric – “Gimme Sympathy”
MP3: Jimmy Eat World – “Bleed American”
MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Fire”
Video: City & Colour – “Comin’ Home”
Video: Serena Ryder – “Stomps”

And back to TURF, another batch of acts has been announced for the four-day event running July 4 to 7. We’ve got Yo La Tengo, who will be playing on the 7th since they will follow headliners Belle & Sebastian on tour after that, and also JD McPherson, The Barr Brothers, and Larry and his Flask. Each week finds the lineup getting stronger and more eclectic; by the time the schedule and ticket information is released later this month, it should be a doozy.

MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Stupid Things”
Video: JD McPherson – “Fire Bug”
Video: Larry & His Flask – “Call It What You Will”
Video: The Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning”

And in club show announcements – no, not everything is happening at a national historic site: Peter Murphy will mark the 35th anniversary of Bauhaus with a set comprised entirely of material of his old band. That happens May 10 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $29.50 in advance.

Video: Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

Doldrums will play his first show in town since last week’s release of Lesser Evil at The Horseshoe on May 11 – you know, in case there wasn’t enough going on that night with Foals, Charles Bradley, and The Breeders elsewhere in town. Tickets are $10 in advance.

MP3: Doldrums – “Jump Up”

If you’ve been waiting for Los Angeles buzz band Haim to come to town and are a Vampire Weekend fan, congratulations – the sister act have been named as support for their May 16 show at The Sony Centre. And if you’re not a Vampire Weekend fan… sorry, but you can at least take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not a Vampire Weekend fan.

Video: Haim – “Falling”

While it’s all well and good that Laura Stevenson is coming back to town – I enjoyed her set opening for Maps & Atlases back in August 2010 – I’m more excited that Brooklyn’s Field Mouse will be opening up for her at The Drake on May 21; verily do they hit my indie-pop sweet spot. Tickets for that are $12.50 in advance.

Video: Laura Stevenson – “Master Of Art”
Video: Field Mouse – “Glass”

The Shins have decided to take last year’s Port Of Morrow for another spin – they’ll be at The Sound Academy on May 22, tickets $34.50 general admission and $44.50 VIP.

MP3: The Shins – “Know Your Onion!”

It’s like a cross-generational synth-pop summit; Diamond Rings will open up for Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark at the Danforth Music Hall, both on the previously announced July 11 date and the just-announced July 19 second date. Tickets for both are $35 in advance.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “I’m Just Me”

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Perch Patchwork

Maps & Atlases, Cults and Laura Stevenson & The Cans at The Horseshoe in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangHeading into Saturday night, I had a managed to go a full six weeks without hitting a club show – only partly by design – and feeling on the cusp of official “shut-in” status and a full week of activities coming up, I figured that it was a good time to start getting back into game shape with a trio of bands with whom I was only passingly familiar – enough so to think that it might be a good show, but not enough to really know what to expect.

Leading off were Brooklyn’s Laura Stevenson & The Cans, who at the core are sweet, jangly and slightly twangy pop-rock but get a bit orchestral and right noisy around the edges. Namesake Stevenson has an immediately likeable crystalline voice and her bandmates do a fine job of providing the proper accompaniment to keep things dynamic and interesting. Apparently not enough to keep the folks standing beside me from believing that loudly quoting 30 Rock jokes was more entertaining than what was going on onstage, but what can you do. Stevenson’s record A RecorD is available for free download with donations welcome. You should do both of these things.

New York duo Cults came into the night with the highest buzz-to-recording ratio, the enthusiasm that met their “Go Outside” 7″ earlier this Summer being responsible for their being able to tour the continent before they’d released anything else and do it as a full six-piece band instead of just the core two-piece with taped backing tracks. And while they had more than the four songs released so far to fill up a set, it may have been a blessing that being held up at the border and arriving at the club late forced them to truncate their show a bit. While the newer material fit the Motown-in-Summer mould that the single did, none of it was as instantly catchy and their relative green-ness as a live act was also evident – what made Madeline Follin’s vocals sound sweet and girly on record came across thin on stage and co-conspirator Brian Oblivion had the annoying habit of constantly brushing his hair back behind his ears while playing. That aside, they were clearly comfortable as live performers – no given – and they’ve got a good sound so one hopes they’ll improve with time. What I got most out of their set, though, was just how much I miss Saturday Looks Good To Me, who did what Cults do so much better and were summarily ignored for it. Oh SLGTM.

I’d given Maps & Atlases’ latest Perch Patchwork a number of listens in advance of the show to try and get a handle on exactly what the Chicago quartet were about and… well, I’m pretty sure I failed. Were they math-rock? Prog-rock? Jam-rock? Pop-rock? Folk-rock? Just rock? The answer, apparently, was yes. Maps & Atlases somehow straddle all of these genres and while you can’t say their union is seamless – some sounds weren’t meant to go gently together – they largely make it work thanks to the fact that they’re all astonishing musicians and they seem to think what they’re doing is perfectly normal. Constantly shifting tempos and time signatures rendered by heavy yet nimble percussion and mad guitar tapping figures underneath, high and lonesome vocals and plaintive melodies overtop. Certainly, no one sounds like them and like most distinctive bands, they drew a modestly-sized but wholly enthusiastic audience who cheered wildly for every feat of musicianship, of which there were many. I didn’t fall in love with them, but I was impressed. And that was enough.

Photos: Maps & Atlases, Cults, Laura Stevenson & The Cans @ The Horseshoe – August 7, 2010
MP3: Maps & Atlases – “Solid Ground”
MP3: Cults – “Go Outside”
MP3: Cults – “Most Wanted”
MP3: Laura Stevenson & The Cans – “Holy Ghost!”
Video: Cults – “Oh My God”
MySpace: Maps & Atlases
MySpace: Laura Stevenson & The Cans

Spinner has an Interface session with The National.

NYC Taper has a recording of Spoon set opening up for Arcade Fire at Madison Square Garden in New York last Wednesday.

In conversation with Spinner, Interpol’s Sam Fogarino discusses Interpol and the band’s journey from indie to major to indie again. The record is out September 7 and they’re at the Kool Haus tomorrow night.

NPR is streaming a World Cafe session with Laura Marling.

St. Louis Today chats with Phoenix guitarist Laurent Brancowitz. They play the Ricoh Coliseum on October 26.

NPR interviews Bjork.