Saturday, May 7th, 2005
It was a bit of an Arts & Crafts love-in last night at the Poor Alex for what was essentially a coming-out party for the label’s newest signees, The Most Serene Republic. You couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a member of Broken Social or Stars, assuming you could find room to wind-up – the place was pretty packed.
For my part, I was as curious to see what these Milton-ites were about as I was to see any other act on bill. I found the one MP3 available on their website was equal parts compelling and confounding so I figured the live show would be more revealing. Impressions? They look like they’re barely out of highschool, but certainly seem to have all the right ingredients for Can-indie buzziness. Signed to a hip label? Check. Co-ed vocalists? Check. At least a half-dozen members? Check. Absurdly high-energy, spastic live show? Check.
Unfortunately, the band as really frickin’ loud and the sound was pretty dire so it wasn’t the best environment to pass judgement on their songwriting acumen. If I was to craft some sort of witty one-line description, however, it’d be something along the lines of The Dismemberment Plan informed by the Elephant 6 rather than the DC hardcore scene. There was no shortage of musical complexity onstage, odd time signatures and stop-start dynamics (all anchored by one of the most ridiculously good drummers I’ve seen in a long time – his genome must be mapped and his abilities made available to the masses) but I’m pretty sure there was enough pop sensibility to keep them from getting tagged as too arty/proggy. I was fairly impressed but will wait to see them open for British Sea Power in a couple weeks – hopefully with a better sound mix – before making any final declarations of awesomeness.
I’d seen Jon-Rae & The River’s drunken hillbilly soul revival a few times before and while entertaining, it’s never really grabbed me the way it has for others. I guess I like my alt-country a little more on the whisky-soaked and brooding side. But seeing as how they seem to crop up around town a fair bit, I’m sure they’ll get more chances to win me over in the future. Or not.
Amy Millan of Stars was the headliner on this evening, performing in the all-too rare solo format. I’d seen her doing her own stuff a couple times before, once with a band and once solo acoustic, but this time she mixed it up yet again playing solo electric. Feeling very low key and laid back, Amy played a short set of her own country-flavoured material, much of which pre-dated Stars, as well as a lovely reading of “Look Up” from her day job. The music was interspersed with stories from the road and tributes to her first music teacher who was in the audience. I was a little disappointed there was no mention of Honey From The Tombs, her completed solo record, and a little alarmed when she said she had no album and nothing to promote. Has it been shelved again? Stars-mate Evan Cranley joined her onstage for an encore playing trombone, and the show ended with her singing “Happy Birthday” to the Most Serene Republic keyboardist, and they all went off and had cake. We in the audience went home.
Photos here – there was none of the wonderful lighting love from Thursday night, sadly. Workable, but I was spoiled from the night before.
Still with the Arts & Crafts news, flagship act Broken Social Scene will be headlining a festival at Olympic Island in the Toronto Islands on June 26. So far it’s just them and Modest Mouse on the bill, but they promise many many more acts. And there’d damn well better be if they’re going to justify the $48.50 ticket price. This is a show I’d like to go to – the ferry docks are just straight down my street – but for that price they’d have to have, like God performing with the Funk Brothers and Joe Satriani on guitar. I’ll be watching to see how this bill shapes up and how much rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth there is from the indie kids about the cost of admission. Thanks to Tab for the info.
And finally, Low has cancelled their Spring tour due to health reasons. Obviously disappointed here, I’m digging The Great Destroyer and was really looking forward to seeing them, but mainly I hope that whatever the problems are get rectified quickly and everyone in and around the band is well.
np – Art Of Fighting / Wires