Monday, June 11th, 2007
Let Me Come Over
If I had one edict for surviving NxNE this year, it would be “no club hopping”. Coming off two weeks abroad and having already hit shows Sunday and Tuesday night, the only thing that was going to get me out of the house for Thursday through Saturday was some sort of guarantee to myself that I wouldn’t be trying to barrel around Toronto on my bike at night while at high risk of a narcoleptic attack. Thank goodness, then, for the lineup Thursday at the Horseshoe, which featured a happy grab bag of acts – some very familiar, some peripherally, some not at all – but almost certainly guaranteeing an interesting evening.
Leading things off were Future Clouds & Radar, the new project of Robert Harrison, formerly of Cotton Mather. You’d be excused for doing a double-take when told their drivers licenses say “Austin, Texas”, however, as their swirling, neo-psychedelic pop owes a huge debt to such towering English talents as Ray Davies and Robyn Hitchcock (payable in pounds sterling). Rolling out material from their self-titled debut, the band seemed a little out of sorts to begin the set, only Harrison seeming fully in the groove and periodically dancing over to his bandmates to offer some guidance or support. They quickly got it together, though, and by set’s end were firing on all cylinders and finished their too-brief set on a high note. At two CDs in length, Future Clouds And Radar is a bit overlong and probably dilutes what could be a drum-tight single disc, but the long format does lend it a charming, rambling GBV-ish quality. Recommended, both live and on disc. Houston Press Q&As Rober Harrison.
I hadn’t actually wanted to stick around for Bowling Green, Kentucky’s Cage The Elephant – they didn’t sound like my cup of tea – but with nowhere else to go for an hour, I did and am glad I did. I guess I’m learning the distinction between music that I enjoy listening to and that which can simply be fun to see live. And Cage The Elephant’s blend of snotty teenage punk and classic-styled Southern rock definitely delivers on the latter. Looking barely out of high school (if even that), the five-piece put on a show loaded with energy and antics one couldn’t help but enjoy.
Los Angeles’ Sea Wolf made a positive impression when they played our Hot Freaks show at SxSW in March so I was pleased to see them coming to town (though they’d just come by last month opening for Silversun Pickups). Their new EP Get To The River Before It Runs Too Low is a pleasant if a bit subdued bit of nicely orchestrated folk-pop and that’s my overall impression of them live. Alex Church’s compositions are hooky though at times it feels like they’re wearing gloves – there’s something that keeps them from catching too deeply. But there’s definitely potential there and the band has the tools to do something really great – and I mean that literally. They had loads and loads of fascinating instruments onstage and at their disposal.
And then the headliners, at least for as late as I was planning to stay – the resurrected Buffalo Tom. I had thought that seeing them in Austin at SxSW in March would be a once-in-a-lifetime, can’t-miss opportunity… then they show up in my backyard not three months later. That’s not a complaint, though. They may be years removed from their Sassy “Cute Band Alert” but Buffalo Tom play with the energy of a much younger band. Well, mainly Bill Janovitz who kept in game shape during the band’s hiatus selling houses – throughout the set, he was bounding, lurching and generally all over the stage, powering through material both classic and new (from their forthcoming album Three Easy Pieces, out July 10). Chris Colbourn stayed pretty much stationary over on his side of the stage trying not to get caught in the line of fire. It’s funny that some of the sloppiness I noticed at their show in Austin and wrote off as the band getting back into gear were still evident three months later. Maybe that’s just how the BT are live? I never saw them back in the day so I can’t compare. However, if I might make a suggestion, Bill – for the straightforward style of guitar-pop that the band excels at, you really doesn’t need so many distortion pedals. SG -> cable -> Marshall = goodness. Just saying. But stompbox navigational difficulties aside, Buffalo Tom’s set was a terrific stroll down memory lane but kept an eye towards the future.
Photos: Buffalo Tom, Sea Wolf, Cage The Elephant, Future Clouds And Radar @ The Horseshoe – June 7, 2007
MP3: Buffalo Tom – “Three Easy Pieces”
MP3: Sea Wolf – “You’re A Wolf”
MP3: Sea Wolf – “The Garden That You Planted”
MP3: Future Clouds And Radar – “Drugstore Bust”
MP3: Future Clouds And Radar – “Quicksilver”
Video: Buffalo Tom – “Sodajerk” (YouTube)
Video: Buffalo Tom – “Velvet Roof” (YouTube)
Video: Sea Wolf – “You’re A Wolf” (YouTube)
MySpace: Buffalo Tom
MySpace: Sea Wolf
MySpace: Future Clouds And Radar
And the final batch of Europe photos – sets from Switzerland, brief stops in Leichtenstein and Austria and finally, finishing up with a few stops around Germany. I particularly love the ones of the Swiss Alps, taken atop the Stanserhorn. Majesty doesn’t even begin to describe it. But that’s it for the vacation shots – henceforth, my Flickr account will again focus on concert shots and pictures of my cat – like this one, which has been selected to be published in the 24 Hours Of Flickr book. Naturally, he’s been a total diva since he found out. No, wait – he was always like that.