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Monday, October 1st, 2007

I Saw A Light

I begged off on trying to review Bat For Lashes’ Fur & Gold in last week’s post because their music doesn’t really lend itself to easy description and I’ll all about easy. I was hoping that seeing them live this past Friday at the El Mocambo would help crystallize things in my head and while the show didn’t make finding the words any easier, I’m now at least able to add the fact that they’re a fascinating live show into the mixture.

Playing to a much larger crowd than I anticipated, Bat-woman Natasha Khan and her three bandmates dress live a collision between a Renaissance fair and a Pat Benetar video and eschew traditional musical roles onstage, instead playing whatever instrument needed for the particular song. As such, each of them moved from keys to strings to guitars to percussion throughout the set as well as adding vocals, helping recreate the unusual sonics of Fur & Gold in the live setting.

But front and centre was Khan, both embracing and defusing her mystical, high priestess persona by being simultaneously engaging and eccentric. You could tell she didn’t play up or down any quirkiness for the stage – she simply was. Similarly, Bat For Lashes’ music dwells equally in a past that never was and the here and now of reality, a hypnotic blend of urbanity and myth, all anchored by Khan’s rich voice. Though they played for barely an hour including one-song encore (we got the Waits cover, not the Springsteen), it was enthralling for every minute.

The aforementioned large crowd was also, unfortunately, a loud crowd much to the dismay of openers Lewis & Clarke (named not for the explorers but for authors CS Lewis and Arthur C Clarke). Even bolstered by the massive low end being put out by Eve Miller’s (formerly of Matt Pond PA) cello, the duo had to struggle to be heard over the TGIF drinkers in back. Those of us up front and inclined to pay attention, though, were rewarded with a really pretty set of Lou Rogal’s thoughtful Drake/Cohen-esque folk songs. They sounded great with just guitar and cello but listening to the lusher recorded arrangements of Blasts Of Holy Birth, I can only imagine how good a full band would have sounded. Might have shut up everyone in back, even.

Afrique En Ligne has an interview with Khan while Paper Thin Walls gets a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the really quite awesome “What’s A Girl To Do” video. Lost At Sea and Muzzle Of Bees have interviews with Lewis & Clarke.

Photos: Bat For Lashes, Lewis & Clarke @ The El Mocambo – September 28, 2007
MP3: Bat For Lashes – “I’m On Fire”
MP3: Lewis & Clarke – “Before It Breaks You”
Video: Bat for Lashes – “Whats A Girl To Do”
Video: Bat for Lashes – “Prescilla”
MySpace: Bat For Lashes
MySpace: Lewis & Clarke

The Pipettes’ October 5 show at the Opera House has been postponed till December something something due to Visa issues. Those of you who were going, now that your Friday’s open, why not head to Tiger Bar to see The Brother Kite and Fjord Rowboat? Plug plug. Update: Pitchfork has some of the rescheduled dates – The Pipettes are back in Toronto on November 18 at Lee’s Palace.

The Globe & Mail talks to Steve Earle about leaving Guitar Town behind on Washington Square Serenade.

Pitchfork has an interview with Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam.

Ambrosia Parsley talks to Spinner about the selection process for Shivaree’s covers album of love songs, Tainted Love: Mating Calls & Fight Songs.

Will Sheff talks to Filter about bringing Okkervil River into the here and now and being persona non grata with Austin by drug dealers. NPR also has an interview and is currently streaming their performance in DC from last night.

Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows is out next Tuesday in PWYC digital form and second mortgage-inducing, 40 quid deluxe CD/double-LP format on December 3. Pitchfork has specifics. Seeing how it’s been nigh on a decade since Radiohead released an album I actually enjoyed, I’m not sure how much I care but watching the internet collectively lose their shit over this – regardless of whether or not the album is any good (any guesses which way I’m leaning?) – is going to be entertaining.

So, Toronto – how was your Nuit Blanche this weekend? I had no grand ambition to make it through the whole night and as such, was in bed by 2:30 but even if I was trying to see the sun rise, I don’t know that there’d have been enough to keep me interested in staying up that late. Even though I saw far more this time around, I think I enjoyed last year’s more. This year the crowds were so dense that down in Parkdale, there was really no opportunity to just hang out and take things in – you had to keep moving lest you get run down by other pedestrians or traffic. And the installations didn’t seem as grand or imaginative, either. But with all that said, I still love the idea of the event and am looking forward to next year’s. Maybe now that we’ve gotten past the sophomore slump, 2008 will be a return to form. But general disappointment aside, Nuit Blanche is still one of the top photo ops in the city all year – check out my Flickr set.

By : Frank Yang at 8:25 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. mike says:

    Saw you at the Queen’s Park light installation but I was chatting with a random stranger at the time and when I looked around you’d already gone. Funny, I was at Nuit Blanche from 11:30 pm to 6 am and didn’t take that many photos…you got some good shots. What time did you start your Nuit Blanche?

  2. Frank says:

    oh, Queen’s Park was my very last stop on the night en route to going home. I started around 8:30, ended at 2. I just didn’t have the energy to keep going and at that point I was a few hundred metres from my bed. There’s no art in the world that could have kept me up at that point.

  3. Roland says:

    Thanks for this week’s Watson Twins cover; it’s fantastic!