Thursday, May 3rd, 2007
Driving Headlong Towards The Biggest Fight Of His Life
While this year’s edition of the Over The Top Fest, kicking off tonight with shows around the city, isn’t likely to be as dramatic or – let’s face it – as all out awesome as the best Sylvester Stallone truck-driving, arm-wrestling flick of the 80s, it will still probably be pretty good.
While in past years, there were at least one or two shows featuring familiar and favoured bands, this year’s lineup didn’t have any “must-sees” for me. Which actually made picking shows harder, since arguments could be made for hitting up any number of shows scheduled against one another. It’s almost like… an ARM WRESTLE. However, this is where the sheer eclecticism of the acts playing over the next four days and nights comes in handy – I’ll surely be seeing stuff that’s new and foreign to me and my tastes, and while it’s improbable that I’ll like it all, it’ll definitely be interesting. Like arm wrestling.
But I think I’ve made my choices and expect the weekend to shake out as follows: start things off tonight with the vibraphone ecstasy of The Hylozoists, Athens, GA psych-poppers Casper & The Cookies and the retro girl-groupness of Grand Rapids’ The Icicles at the Tranzac. Tomorrow it’s back to the Tranzac for Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s one-man synthery, Vague Angels (fronted by Chris Leo, brother of Ted) and Nick Krgovich of Vancouver’s P:ano. Then the weekend’s made for matinees with manic synth-pop duo Matt & Kim, twee-er than twee Page France, Philadelphia Television-samplers Yah Mos Def and locals The Fancy Claps and The Weathermaking Challenge at, get ready for it, The Tranzac. And Sunday, finally, is another matinee at Sneaky Dee’s (not the Tranzac!) featuring Phil Elverum’s Mt Eerie, Montreal singer-songwriter Darling Arms and Pilotram, who might play songs with such compelling titles as “Drone In D” and “Drone In E”.
Naturally, I reserve the right to change my mind at the drop of a hat or sleep in and miss an act or two. And there are other bands playing that I’m curious to see – Meligrove Band (who I’ve seen before but are always fun), Japanther, Peter & The Wolf – but one I’m not interested in seeing is de facto festival headliner Daniel Johnston. I respect the man’s songwriting (though I rather prefer them when someone’s covering them) but I saw him open for Yo La Tengo a few years ago and… well, he’s an interesting performer. I’ll certainly give him that much. But that show’s sold out anyways, so it’s a moot point.
Naturally the local media is happily covering the launch of the festival – eye chats up The Phonemes, looks at the Daniel Johnston doc playing as part of the film component and generally previews the fest (there’s also a handy-dandy cut-out guide in the print version of the paper), NOW and The Toronto Star talk to festival founder Eric Warner as well as Daniel Johnston while Chart interviews featured acts The Hylozoists and Japanther.
And for the first year, Over The Top expands its format to include film, theatre and dance components. While hitting the matinees on the weekend does allow me to catch, say, one of the performances of Giant Killer Shark: The Musical (which Chart reports on), it’s far more likely I’ll be geeking out at, say, Spider-Man 3. But for those who prefer their cinema little more rock’n’roll, check out FilmCAN – they’re selling films online including the legendary Bruce McDonald Rock’N’Road trilogy of Roadkill, Highway 61 and Hard Core Logo as well as some of the short films from New Pornographer Blaine Thurier, though they’re not pornography. I think. Also note that the McDonald films are all playing at the Royal tonight, back to back to back, with introductions from McDonald. More info at Stille Post.
And while I’m rounding up reasons to go outside this weekend, note that
Friday Saturday is Free Comic Book Day – while most funny book shops around the city will be taking part in the event to some degree, your best bet will certainly be The Beguiling in Mirvish Village, who in addition to giving out free books, will have loads of local comic creators on-hand to sign stuff and just otherwise geek out (there’s that phrase again). And also note that in conjunction with the happenings, Scott McCloud, author of the excellent Understanding Comics and the decidedly less excellent Reinventing Comics will be in town Sunday evening for a lecture at the OISE Theatre at Bloor and St George station. Ticket info on the Beguiling’s website.
And to backtrack a bit to Spider-Man 3, PopMatters has a bluffers guide to all the principals in the new film while looking ahead to NEXT Summer’s comic book blockbuster, Entertainment Weekly has the first look at the final Iron Man armour… and it looks awesome. Even moreso knowing that it’s not Tom Cruise inside it. Via Newsarama.
Looking ahead to next month’s big Toronto music festival, NxNE has released the first official list of bands playing around town the weekend of June 7, 8 and 9. And in keeping with traditions laid out by big brother fest SxSW, the list is nigh unreadable. But a quick scan reveals some interesting names and a distinct international flavour to the lineup – just to name a few, we’ve got pop maven Jason Falkner, DC Leafblower faves Middle Distance Runner, North Carolinans Schooner (who I saw and enjoyed at Pop Montreal last year), Los Angeles’ Sea Wolf (who I saw and enjoyed at SxSW in March), ex-Swervedriver Adam Franklin and, rather out of left field, 90s Irish rockers Therapy?, whose song “Nowhere” I’ve had in my head since I saw their name. More names will probably be added when at a press conference thing next Tuesday evening.
Ooookay, what else we got? Under Byen return to Toronto for the third time in nine months for a show at Lee’s Palace on July 12. You’d think Denmark was right next door or something.