Sunday, April 17th, 2005
Someone ask me how the Ambulance Ltd show in Toronto was last night. Go on, ask me. “Hey Frank, how was the Ambulance show last night?” “SHORT!” I’m talking George Lucas movie central casting short. It’s a shame that that should be the thing that sticks out in my mind the most from this show, but when the headliner plays for under an hour including encore…
Anyway – let’s start at the beginning. The two local openers for this show were acts I’d seen before some time ago and who didn’t make much of an impression the first time around. I was curious to see how they compared now. First was Nassau, who I saw with The Wrens last February, and I think I had the exact same reaction as I did then. Brit-influenced rock dragged down by an excessively lumbering rhythm section. The drummer hit em hard but lacked any of the finesse that might have given the tunes some sort of jump. This is especially ironic considering the band is fronted by ex-GBV drummer Jon McCann, who is probably exponentially better behind the kit than the guy they have. There were a couple tunes that had a bit of energy to them, but they were sadly outnumbered by the plodding ones. Next.
I saw Boy about a year and a half ago opening for Metric at the Horseshoe. Back then, they were a coffee house-ish singer-songwriter folk/pop outfit. Well I guess someone attended some focus group meetings since then, because Boy is now a full-out retro rock machine that sounds suspiciously fashionable. Bouncing around the stage with all the energy that Nassau lacked, they churned out some decent if rote rock’n’roll that was equal parts classic hand-on-hip Stones swagger and 90s “Mad for it” Britpop. Not the sort of thing that really got my engine revving, but good warmup nonetheless.
I’ve already complained about the brevity of the headliner set, so I’ll just let that go and comment on the performance itself, for as long as it lasted. Opening with “Yoga Means Union”, they followed with the next two songs off of LP and I wondered for a moment if they were just going to play the album start to finish (though if they had, it would have probably been a longer show… whoops, there I go again). They filled the middle portion of the set with some new material and wrapped up with the singles from the album, before returning for a one-song encore that was a cover I can’t place (if anyone knows, let me know). They may not have been up there long, but singer/guitarist Marcus Congleton was working up a good sweat anyway, much to the delight of the sizable female portion of the audience.
Since I saw them at SxSW last month, I had a fair idea of what to expect from the show, and again, they were quite polished in their presentation if not particularly animated. They certainly managed to exude an air of aloofness that actually worked with their New York cool mystique, but they said they were really happy to be here so we could probably just take their word for it. Musically, they’ve stripped away much of the atmospherics that make the recorded versions of the songs so interesting, instead favouring a drier, punchier presentation. Luckily, the songs are, for the most part, strong enough to impress in whichever context.
So yeah, I guess I have to say I was somewhat disappointed by the show. Neither opener really did much for me and the headliners called it a day just as things were really getting going. It seems gauche to try and break it down to an entertainment-for-dollar equation, but… I’m glad it wasn’t an expensive ticket. Oh well. Photos here. Man those Mod Club lights are crazy.
It finally has a name! Fountains Of Wayne’s oft-delayed b-sides comp will come out June 28 bearing the monicker of Out-Of-State Plates and to make up for the delay, it’ll be a double-disc set. Billboard has full details, including the fact that it in addition to boasting a couple of new tracks, it will mark the first official release of their “…Baby, One More Time” cover. They originally recorded it way back in 1999, but refused to release it as the label wanted to make it a single and they were wary of being labelled as a novelty act or a one-hit wonder. Nope, they held their ground and it eventually paid off as they’re now recognized as being the purveyors of that artistic monument known as “Stacy’s Mom”.
The Go! Team will be at Lee’s Palace July 13. I know some people who are going to be very happy about this one.
np – Low / The Great Destroyer