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Monday, April 28th, 2008

Don't Bother Me


Photo by Frank Yang

Most people, before they head out on a Friday night on the town, get primed by drinking at home, maybe at a friend’s place Me? I nap. Yeah, insert three-finger devil salute here. What can I say, the work week is tiring and I’m not such a young man anymore. Anyway, that’s why I missed the first two bands at the Horseshoe on Friday night – Young Rival and Songs From A Room – and our evening begins in media res.

I caught the tail end of a Foxfire performance back in 2006, when they were still known as Foxfire Forest, and they made enough of an impression that I remembered seeing them even a year and a half later. What I remembered from the little I saw was that their lineup was immense in that way that Toronto bands frequently are and also very costumed, but also that for all the zany stage show they were also obviously very good musically. So I was sure to time my nap such that I was able to get to the ‘Shoe in time to see them do a whole set.

And sometimes first impressions are correct – Foxfire definitely have something going on, with two charismatic frontpersons, a tight band and a high energy live show. Musically they seek inspiration from when ’70s became ’80s, all disco danciness and new waving, but run it through some high camp theatrics – think Queen, Meatloaf, Rocky Horror Picture Show. Which is all well and good, it was certainly entertaining and the crowd was totally into it, but if you happened to actually listen to the lyrics they came across as distinctly sophomoric, like something you might read on a high school restroom wall. This isn’t to say that I would expect grand poetry or profundity from someone drenched in fake blood, but assembling the talent that they have to deliver dick jokes did strike me as a bit of a waste.

The Blakes, on the other hand, dwelled at almost the polar opposite end of the musical spectrum. The Seattle power trio had no use for costumes, just rock’n’roll. In re-reading my review of their self-titled debut, I’m at a loss to describe things any better than I did then. The Strokes if they hailed from Seattle? Accurate, but also insufficient. The Blakes’ sound is as lean as it is decadent and decidedly fierce in a live setting. Extensive touring may have addled their brains a bit – at one point, frontman Garnet Keim thanked the crowd and said we were a much better audience than Toronto – but the dividends its paid in terms of tightness can’t be denied. What else can I say? They delivered 40 minutes of unadulterated rock that actually made me glad I was there instead of home in bed. No mean feat.

BlogTO chatted with Foxfire about their shifting identity and musical manifesto.

Photos: The Blakes, Foxfire @ The Horseshoe – April 25, 2008
MP3: The Blakes – “Pistol Grip”
MP3: The Blakes – “Don’t Bother Me”

Paste reports on a couple of forthcoming Husker Du releases covering the very early days of the band – First Strike this Summer, collecting some demos from the band circa 1979 and later on, some Land Speed Record-era live material.

The Times gets to know Nicole Atkins, who is currently on tour in Europe. Which is why Lydverket has this terrific video of her singing “The Way It Is” in the streets of Oslo (via Music Snobbery).

Video: Nicole Atkins – “The Way It Is” (live in Oslo)

NPR has an interview with Portishead’s Adrian Utley. The band made their long-awaited live return this weekend at Coachella and their new record Third is out tomorrow.

Coachella also featured a performance from The Verve, though the AP and NME both drop the ball by calling it the band’s first American show in a decade – after all, they played in San Francisco just two nights previous and Waves & Wire has the audio evidence available to download. Gotta say, from those recordings the band sounds great – I’m getting increasingly stoked for Thursday night’s show at the Ricoh Coliseum, for which congratulations go to Kevin, who won my contest for passes to the show. And Spin just declared them their band of the day. How nice for them.

MP3: The Verve – “Lucky Man”

By : Frank Yang at 8:52 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Pete Nema says:

    Hey, I meant to tell you that I figured out what Garnet meant when he said we were "a better crowd than Toronto"…

    He meant we were "a better crowd than last time we were in Toronto". See, last time it was a Monday night and the crowd was really silent. I even mentioned that aspect in my article from that show (http://www.petenema.com/art…).

    Just thought you’d be interested…