Sunday, June 26th, 2005
Where Flowers Should Be
Cleverly titled “Eyes To the Ground”, the fundraiser for the Ear To The Ground Festival that took place at the Gibsone Jessop Gallery in the Distillery District promised “shoegazer pop, performance and art” – which to me is like promising crack to a crack whore. Music being the crack and me being the crack whore, if that wasn’t clear.
Ear To The Ground, for those not familiar, is a big to-do happening September 16-18 at Exhibition Place and one of the many events I’m fairly upset about having to miss while I’m away that month. It’s billed as “a celebration of the independent spirit” and will feature art, music, film and theatre from outside the mainstream presented in a professional environment. While the festival has been keeping a bit of a low profile up until now, it seems they’re ramping up the PR machine as the dates draw closer and the information about artists participating becomes confirmed. There should be some more announcements in the upcoming days, which I of course will relay, but from what I know of what they’ve got planned and the people involved, this should be an amazing addition to the Toronto scene.
But back to last night. The three acts on the bill were mostly unknown quantities to me. I’d heard the names from around town before, but top-billed As The Poets Affirm were the only act I’d heard and were the main draw for me. But as it turns out, the organizers knew what they were doing – bot In Support Of Living and The Ghost Is Dancing were excellent compliments to the bill.
In Support Of Living covered the shoegaze component of the bill quite capably, cloaked in darkness and hardly moving. They used complete programmed backing tracks which they augmented with live instrumentation – extra drums, guitar, bass, keys, flute. From a live performance angle, it was a bit of a cheat but musically, it worked quite well. I was in eyes-closed, head-nodding mode for most of it. That usually means I was enjoying it or falling asleep, and while it was the former I’m sure that the band would have considered the latter to be mission accomplished as well.
But any sort of narcolepsy ISOL might have induced was quickly blown out by The Ghost Is Dancing. Joyously chaotic and cacaphonous yet always melodic, they invaded the audience, banged on plastic barrels, broke out accordians and violins… Hmm, sound sort of familiar? Lazy musical comparison #1 – a far less morose Arcade Fire probably in desperate need of Ritalin (Tom Cruise weeps) but totally enjoying the ride but not at all derivative, just reminiscent. Excellent stuff, check some out at their MySpace page.
Ottawa’s As The Poets Affirm were brought to my attention by Jason over at Mystery & Misery, and for that I thank him. Lazy musical comparison #2 – If Godspeed You Black Emperor! is claustrophobic, As The Poets Affirm are agoraphobic. They don’t sound as dark or bleak, but even in their less-dense sound, they’re amazingly epic and intense. Backboned by an amazing drummer and led by cello, their post-rock, primarily instrumental compositions are an excellent fix for anyone seeking, well, epically intense, primarily instrumental, post-rock compositions backboned by an amazing drummer and led by cello. You know who you are.
You can get both their albums – either electronically or in CD form – from Zunior, or check out some mp3s on their site.
I don’t know how effective a fundraiser it was – there weren’t really that many people in attendance and considering the total number of band members from all three acts numbered 19, I imagine even fewer paid to get in. And seeing as how it was held in a gallery and not an actual concert venue (though it was nice), “stage” lighting was non-existant and all photos are rendered in artsy black-and-white silhouette-o-vision.
On my way to the show, I cut across Church St and therefore through the heart of the Pride Week parties. What do I hear booming from one of the disco tents? “It’s Raining Men”. Swear to god. It was awesome.
I have this huge backlog of links and tidbits and whatnot that I keep pushing back so as to keep these posts from getting too damn long – this is unprecedented. Usually I’m scrimping and scraping. Moderation is the key, so I’ll get to those in the next few days. BUT – I will say this. I want to read Saddam Hussein’s novel. I’m serious.
np – Godspeed You Black Emperor! / Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven!