Posts Tagged ‘Robyn’

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Pitchfork 2010 Day 1

Robyn, Broken Social Scene, Liars and more at Pitchfork Music Festival 2010

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThe Pitchfork Music Festival occupies an interesting niche in the festival landscape. It’s too small to fairly compare with the national destination-type events, even though people such as myself do travel from afar to attend, but too high-profile to be considered properly boutique. The lineup is generally solid from top to bottom, but in a mid-level club sense. Almost all of the acts, at least for the 2010 edition, are touring relentlessly and aren’t hard to catch at some point in most urban centres, and for many this is probably their first experience with a festival setting and such large stages and audiences.

So despite the fact that I had already seen or could see in the coming weeks/months many of the acts on the bill, I decided to attend this year because a) plans to hit last year’s fest were scuppered by real life, b) I skipped out on the Toronto edition of the Pavement reunion tour in favour of Iggy & The Stooges at NxNE and c) the total dearth of outdoor festivals in Toronto this year meant that to get my heat stroke in the photo pit action on, I’d have to leave town. Also, I hadn’t been to Chicago in years.

Pitchfork Fridays past tended to feature a single evening feature event like a “Don’t Look Back” full album performance, but this year they opted for a half-day of regular programming and squeezing in a couple more headliners. I arrived at Union Park, just a little outside of The Loop, just in time to hear Sharon Van Etten kick the day and the festival off on the main stage, dubbed Aluminum, previewing songs from her forthcoming album Epic. The bright – nay, blazing – afternoon sun wasn’t the most natural setting for her dark and vulnerable songs, but it’s remarkable that even massively amplified in the outdoors, her gorgeous voice was able to sound so intimate. She may not have had the same name recognition as some of the others in the lineup but hopefully for the festival early birds, she’ll have been a welcome discovery.

Photos: Sharon Van Etten @ Aluminum Stage – July 16, 2010
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “I Couldn’t Save You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Consolation Prize”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MySpace: Sharon Van Etten

The two main stages at Pitchfork were set up in close proximity and at 90 degrees to one another, and Friday’s staggered set times made it easy to dash from one to the other – or just turn your butt, for the seated – and catch the next act. Inaugurating the Connector stage was The Tallest Man On Earth, and though also performing solo he clearly didn’t suffer from any lack of audience familiarity – folks were stoked for Kristian Matsson and his set didn’t disappoint them. The charisma on display the one time I’d seen him at an in-store scaled quite well to the bigger venue and as he lurched and lunged around the stage whilst showcasing the upbeat folk from The Wild Hunt, the crowd collectively swooned. Though that may have also been from the heat. The Tallest Man On Earth plays Lee’s Palace on September 24.

Photos: The Tallest Man On Earth @ Connector Stage – July 16, 2010
MP3: The Tallest Man On Earth – “King Of Spain”
MP3: The Tallest Man On Earth – “Burden Of Tomorrow”

Liars and I had never been properly introduced, with the one time I tried giving them a listen apparently coming when they were at their most abrasive and I quickly moved on with my life. This first encounter started out rockily, with my camera seemingly self-destructing as soon as the band took the stage. It turned out that my camera grip was actually overheating just from the ambient temperature and was shorting everything out, so once removed and with things working again, the panic began to abate I was able to turn my attention back to the Brooklynites. I didn’t know any material and they were hardly what you’d call an immediately accessible pop, but their first dose of proper rock energy for the day and festival was welcome. Frontman Angus Andrew was a compelling frontman and stage presence, aggressively prowling around the stage during songs and cracking off-colour jokes between, including an invitation to use the water station in his pants. Entertaining, but the lack of familiarity kept me from getting too engaged. Liars play Lee’s Palace on September 29.

Photos: Liars @ Connector Stage – July 16, 2010
MP3: Liars – “Scissor”
MP3: Liars – “Plaster Casts Of Everything”
MP3: Liars – “Loose Nuts On The Veladrome”
Video: Liars – “Scissors””
Video: Liars – “The Overachievers”
Video: Liars – “Houseclouds”
Video: Liars – “Plaster Casts Of Everything”
Video: Liars – “The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack”
MySpace: Liars

The aforementioned lack of familiarity didn’t affect enjoyment of Swedish dance-pop diva Robyn’s set because, well, it was Swedish dance-pop and that stuff is made to cross all lines, borders and bring world peace. Big hooks were the order of the day as she, backed by two drummers and two keyboardists all clad in white, got the Pitchfork crowd – pretty sizeable by point in the day – dancing at best, bobbing up and down at worst. I’d never quite understood the massive acclaim that Robyn got, I mean I thought her stuff was perfectly enjoyable but not commensurate with the level of hosannas laid at her feet. On stage, however, she did a great job of earning the hype, dancing, strutting and posing like a pro and just working the crowd perfectly; good times abounded. Someone is due for some reevaluation by me. That someone being Robyn. In case that wasn’t clear. She plays the Molson Amphitheatre on July 30.

Photos: Robyn @ Aluminum Stage – July 16, 2010
Video: Robyn – “Dancing On My Own”
Video: Robyn – “Dream On”
Video: Robyn – “Konichiwa Bitches”
Video: Robyn – “Handle Me”
Video: Robyn – “Do You Know (What It Takes)”
Video: Robyn – “My Only Reason”
Video: Robyn – “With Every Heartbeat”

Oh Broken Social Scene. I’ve covered my own history with the band, but that in-store appearance aside it had still been almost four years since I’d seen a proper Broken show. And while that full-lineup throwdown was as good a last show as you could imagine, I was interested to see how they sounded with their slimmed-down lineup and fully awake. The deliberately lean aesthetic carried over to their live show, which despite supplementing the now core seven members with Forgiveness Rock Record producer John McEntire as second drummer and some locally-recruited string and brass players, sounded much less grandiose than the old days where they’d trot out six or seven guitarists all doing god knows what simultaneously. Their new approach was certainly more focused, but I can’t say I didn’t miss some of the old grandiosity, some of which – okay, a lot of which – was captured in their finale of “Meet Me In The Basement”, which sounded fantastic and proved that even when you think you’re done with them, Broken Social Scene are still capable of stop and marvel. NPR has a World Cafe session with the band and Asia One an interview.

Photos: Broken Social Scene @ Connector Stage – July 16, 2010
MP3: Broken Social Scene – “World Sick”
MP3: Broken Social Scene – “Fire Eye’d Boy”
MP3: Broken Social Scene – “Hotel”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Meet Me In The Basement”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “7/4 (Shoreline)”
Video: Broken Social Scene -“Fire Eye’d Boy”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Her Disappearing Scene”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Major Label Debut”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Cause = Time”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Almost Crimes”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “Lover’s Spit”
Video: Broken Social Scene – “I’m Still Your Fag”
MySpace: Broken Social Scene

My interest in seeing Modest Mouse was pretty close to nil, but considering they were the headliners, I figured I should at least sample their set and get some pics. As it turned out, the process for rotating photographers in and out of the pit didn’t have the kinks worked out and as a result, I got to shoot maybe a minute of one song before getting the boot. I wasn’t especially disappointed and seeing as how nothing they were playing was either familiar or especially interesting, I took it as a sign to call it a night and go get some dinner.

Photos: Modest Mouse @ Aluminum Stage – July 16, 2010
MP3: Modest Mouse – “Worms Vs. Birds”
Video: Modest Mouse – “Dashboard”
Video: Modest Mouse – “Float On”
Video: Modest Mouse – “Ocean Breathes Salty”
Video: Modest Mouse – “The Whale Song”
Video: Modest Mouse – “King Rat”
Video: Modest Mouse – “Satellite Skin”
Video: Modest Mouse – “Missed The Boat”
MySpace: Modest Mouse

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Dart In The Map

Review of The Futureheads’ The Chaos and giveaway

Photo via Goldest EggGoldest EggIf there’s a rule that bands are supposed to mellow and get more introspective as they age, no one told Sunderland, England’s Futureheads. After briefly making Newcastle the next epicentre of Brit-rock with their 2004 self-titled debutMaximo Park and Field Music would emerge from the same scene – the quartet would release two more records of their distinctive, harmony-laden jerky New Wave with less success than their debut, some complaining that the breakneck rhythms and energy that made The Futureheads so infectious were lacking on the follow-ups.

I can’t comment on the veracity of those comments, as I don’t think I heard either News & Tributes or This Is Not The World though I did see them on tour for the former in Summer of 2006, and they certainly had as much energy as I could have expected. And having made the acquaintance of their newest record The Chaos – out today – I think I can say that if the last couple records were indeed a bit soft, then this can be considered a return to form as sonically, it’s pretty much monolithic. The four-part harmonies, with their clipped phrasing and sharp accents, are still exceptionally tight and as far from a barber shop quartet as you can get and the guitars, if aptly described as “wiry” circa their debut are now akin to electrical transmission lines in girth. Coupled with songs that are maybe a notch or two less immediate than their earlier material but still eminently catchy and performed at a pace that only a bona fide speed freak would call anything but barrelling, The Chaos has all the manic energy promised by its title, encapsulated in compact 3-minute pop packages. Some more dynamics – or just an opportunity to catch one’s breath – over the course of the record would have been welcome, but there’ll be time enough for that when they’re older.

The Futureheads are kicking off a North American tour tonight in New York and will be rolling through Toronto on June 10 for date at the Mod Club. Advance tickets are $18.50 in advance but courtesy of Goldest Egg, i’ve got a pair of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT with “I want to have a Futurehead” in the subject line and your full name in the body, and get that in to me before midnight, June 7.

Futurehead guitarist Ross Millard talks to Spinner about some of the political themes that have worked their way into the new record.

MP3: The Futureheads – “Struck Dumb”
Video: The Futureheads – “Heartbeat Song”
Stream: The Futureheads / The Chaos
MySpace: The Futureheads

Drowned In Sound reports the new Manic Street Preachers record – the one Nicky Wire compared to Aerosmith’s Pump – will be entitled Postcards From A Young Man and be out in the UK on September 20. Was not expecting new MSP so soon; very happy.

Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes talks to Billboard about some of the ideas she’s kicking around for album number three, including working with Beck. have premiered a new video from Vampire Weekend, who are at the Molson Amphitheatre on September 7.

Video: Vampire Weekend – “Holiday”

Flagpole and The Daily Record have interviews with The Hold Steady while NPR has the band in for a World Cafe session. There’s an MP3 now available to download from Heaven Is Whenever, which they’ll be performing at the Kool Haus on July 17.

MP3: The Hold Steady – “Hurricane J”

Chart talked to LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy before their show in Toronto last week. The Vancouver Sun and The New York Times also have interviews.

The National’s Aaron Dessner talks to The Boston Herald. They’re at Massey Hall next week on June 8 and 9.

The Guardian chats with Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste.

NYC Taper has a recording of Holly Miranda’s homecoming show in New York City last week available to share while has a video session recorded on the University of Toronto campus which includes a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Hundreds Of Sparrows”. If one good thing comes out of the passing of Mark Linkous, let it be more and more beautiful Sparklehorse covers. The Sydney Morning Herald also has an interview with Ms Miranda.

Uncensored has an extensive video interview with Nicole Atkins.

The Times-Union profiles Phantogram.

NPR talks to Josh Ritter and premieres the new video from So The World Runs Away.

Video: Josh Ritter – “The Curse”

Chart, The Windsor Star, Chart, The Colorado Springs Independent and NOW profile Broken Bells, in town at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre tomorrow night.

The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle gets sombre with The Georgia Straight.

NPR is streaming Blitzen Trapper’s new album Destroyer Of The Void in advance of its release next week. Learn all the words and sing along when they play the Opera House on August 3.

Stream: Blitzen Trapper / Destroyer Of The Void

The Brother Kite’s Isolation has finally been granted a release date – look for the CD on September 14 and a vinyl edition to follow in November. Preview a few tracks at their website and count the days.

Before playing the Horseshoe that evening, tUnE-yArDs will do an in-store at Soundscpaes on June 13 at 3PM in the afternoon, perfect for those – like myself – who are curious but not ready to commit an evening to see her.

MP3: tUnE-yArDs – “Sunlight”
Video: tUnE-yArDs – “Real Live Flesh”

Fresh off opening up for Sharon Jones at the Sound Academy last week, UK funk-soul brothers The Heavy will play a free show at Harbourfront Centre on July 9 at 8PM as part of this year’s edition of Beats, Breaks & Culture.

MP3: The Heavy – “Colleen”

Langhorne Slim, who was great supporting Drive-By Truckers back in April has his own date at the Horseshoe on July 21, tickets $12.50 in advance.

MP3: Langhorne Slim – “I Love You But Goodbye”

It’s being billed as “Disco Lemonade”, but other appropriate names might be “You Got Your Sensitive Singer-Songwriter In My Dance Party”, “When Disparate Tours Collide”, “I Want The Venue No *I* Want The Venue” or just plain “WTF”. I speak of the show taking place at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 30, which will feature Keane, Robyn, Ingrid Michaelson, Kelis, Fran Healy, Dan Black and Far East Movement. Tickets range from $29.50 to $49.50, the show begins at 3:30PM – yes, that’s on a Friday – and it’s reasonably safe to say that everyone who goes to this show will see something they probably would never have gone to see otherwise. I actually saw this bill on Pollstar a couple weeks ago and assumed it was a typo. Silly me.

Video: Keane – “Clear Skies”
Video: Robyn – “With Every Heartbeat”
Video: Ingrid Michaelson – “The Way I Am”
Video: Kelis – “Milkshake”
Video: Travis – “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?”
Video: Dan Black – “Symphonies”
Video: Far East Movement – “Fetish”

Goth godfather Peter Murphy has a date at Lee’s Palace on August 10, tickets $29.50 in advance.

Video: Peter Murphy – “Cuts You Up”

Mice Parade have a date at the El Mocambo on September 29.