Sunday, December 31st, 2006
Friday night. Drake. Five bands. Five (plus) hours. Yikes. Brooklyn’s Mahogany were the act I most wanted to see on this night (see previous post), but they were also the last on (natch) so I got to investigate the rest of the eclectic lineup first. Breakdown is as follows:
Starting off was Sandro Perri, also known as electronic artist Polmo Polpo. Under his given name, however, he’s a much more traditional musician, offering up homespun jazzy folk (or folky jazz) accentuated by a horn player. Very laid back and pretty, if rather dozy.
I think I’m on record somewhere as saying I’m not a big fan of bands that rely on loops rather than drummers, at least in a live context, so I won’t harp further on that save to say that Montreal duo Hexes & Ohs didn’t change my position. On the plus side, their blend of 80s synth-pop and 00’s lap-pop went down really smoothly, helped by sharp songwriting and some terrific vocal work (and excellent diction) from both Edmund Lam and Heidi Donnelly. On the down side, there were points when an energy boost would have been very welcome and all the synchronized scissor kicks and audience-wandering guitar solos couldn’t get the iTunes playlist to step it up a notch. More the pity.
I’d listened to The Michael Parks, the latest album from Ottawa’s Detective Kalita (also featuring Sandro Perri on guitar) before heading out on Friday and got a general impression of a pleasant if not especially distinctive good-natured, roots-pop band. The live show bore this out, though in very compact form – some songs were extremely short – and with a bit more of a Pavement influence than I’d have expected. And I suspect singer Andy Swan was more than a little drunk.
By this point, I was getting pretty tired and Off The International Radar, with their extended, instrumental, one-chord drone rock really wasn’t helping. On another occasion, if I were in the proper mood, I might have called it hypnotic but this time it was simply monotonous and unnecessary.
But when Mahogany finally took the stage at 1:20AM, seven bright-eyed members strong, weariness was blown away in a torrent of joyous sound. Blending so many familiar sounds – you can hear bits of Stereolab, early Lush, New Order and Cocteau Twins to name but a few – into something decidedly fresh and distinct, Mahogany are the soundtrack of a future where we all have jet packs and flying cars. With three lead vocalists (two female, one male) and two bassists to go along with the huge glowing rack of electronic equipment, they crafted the most exuberant and modern take on dreampop I’ve heard in ages. Their 40-minute set, drawing mainly from their latest record Connectivity! (set list courtesy Jeff) seemed far too short for the wait but was still worth not making it to bed till after 3AM. Can’t wait till they come back.
Photos: Mahogany, Off The International Radar, Detective Kalita, Hexes And Ohs, Sandro Perri @ The Drake Underground – December 29, 2006
MP3: Mahogany – “My Bed is My Castle”
MP3: Mahogany – “Supervitesse”
MP3: Mahogany – “Springtime, Save Our Country”
MP3: Off The International Radar – “Buildin’ A Shed”
MP3: Off The International Radar – “Xiamendotcn”
MP3: Detective Kalita – “Altona, MB”
MP3: Detective Kalita – “Best Man Blues”
MP3: Hexes & Ohs – “Alive Until Saturday Night”
MP3: Hexes & Ohs – “This And Other Distances”
Video: Mahogany – “Supervitesse” (YouTube)
Video: Mahogany – “One Plus One Equals Three Or More” (YouTube)
MySpace: Off The International Radar
MySpace: Detective Kalita
MySpace: Hexes & Ohs
And that’s it for concerts in 2006, and 2006 entirely. I just tallied it up, and I saw 85 shows – counting multi-day fests like Lollapalooza and SxSW as one for sake of expediency – and 281 bands – give or take – this year. That’s a lot of shows. Shee-it.
Anyways, happy new year. Play safe. See you in ’07.