Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
Matt & Kim, The Lemurs, The Canvas Waiting at The Mohawk in Austin, Texas
Frank YangAs those of you who have nothing better to do than monitor my Facebook status or Twitter feed know, I was far from home this past weekend. Texas far, to be precise. Thanks to Philips and their UnDiscovered Austin program, I was whisked away to the Tejas capitol along with a handful of other blog folk for an evening at no cost to me, save the physical toll of being flying halfway across the continent and back in a 30-hour period. And that there is my corporate whore disclaimer. Moving on.
The purpose of the trip was essentially to attend a “secret” show at the Mohawk featuring Matt & Kim. This was fortuitous as I’d actually wanted to see them when they came through Toronto last month, but I opted to go see Neil Halstead that night instead. I had absolutely no regrets about that on my part, but was glad for the opportunity to make that up. Getting out of town for a weekend while picking up around 30 degrees centigrade in ambient temperature was just gravy.
Opening the show up were winners of a contest sponsored by the aforementioned UnDiscovered Austin initiative, ostensibly dedicated to discovering the best unsigned acts in Austin. For a city that’s turned out as many sublime acts as ATX has, however, I have to think they could have done better than The Canvas Waiting. Their earnest and rote pop-rock was almost offensively inoffensive and sounded not unlike the Goo Goo Dolls, which you can interpret as either praise or damnation depending on your affection for the Goo Goo Dolls. In the battle for my attention, they quickly lost to an open bar.
Faring decidedly better were middle act The Lemurs and their taut, Anglo-friendly new wave stylings. Though I’d be hard-pressed to pick out a standout song, they put on a good show – equally danceable and rocking – and definitely elevated the energy level for the night and got those in attendance engaged. Or at least me. Their latest release is the Million Little Bits EP.
I can’t say as that I’m that familiar with Matt & Kim’s recorded output, but the one time I saw them last year made me a definite fan of their live show. I can’t think of any other band that seem to be having quite as much pure, unadulterated fun when they play, and this show did nothing to change that impression of the band. At one point, singer/keyboardist Matt Johnson said that they hated being called “cute”, so I’ll go with “adorable”, and there’s naught they can do about it. He’s like a hyperactive kid overdosed on happy pills on stage and drummer Kim Schifino sports a perma-grin as if the last drum hit was the greatest thing in the world, at least until the next one. Their joy is so real and pure, it’s contagious. And the songs are pretty damn catchy too.
Their set was breakneck fast and fun, drawing on their debut self-title and presumably the forthcoming follow-up Grand, due out January 20 of next year. I can’t say for sure as I don’t know the old material well enough to distinguish it from the new, and let’s be fair – a two-piece like them is only capable of so much sonic variety. But what they lack in range, they more than make up for in pop savvy and glee.
And that was the trip. Probably not the most efficient way to see Matt & Kim – they’re setting out on tour this Spring with Cut Copy including a Toronto date at Circa on March 20 – but certainly a fun, if exhausting, one. And I got to have breakfast tacos. I love me some breakfast tacos.
You can download an MP3 of the first single from Grand at Green Label Sound.
Photos: Matt & Kim, The Lemurs, The Canvas Waiting @ The Mohawk, Austin TX – December 13, 2008
MP3: Matt & Kim – “No More Long Years”
MP3: Matt & Kim – “Yea Yeah”
MP3: The Lemurs – “Yours, Mine, Ours”
MP3: The Lemurs – “They Do What They Want”
Video: Matt & Kim – “Daylight”
Video: Matt & Kim – “Yea Yeah”
Video: Matt & Kim – “5K”
MySpace: Matt & Kim
MySpace: The Lemurs
MySpace: The Canvas Waiting
The Globe & Mail has just run an interview conducted with Oasis’ Noel Gallagher pre-assault, while Detroit News got a word with him more recently, prior to their current North American tour. And apparently the dude who used Noel as a tackling dummy at V Fest skipped out on a court appearance yesterday and there’s now an arrest warrant out for him. What a sparkling example of humanity. Oasis fans, I believe you’re now allowed to go all vigilante on his ass.
Also with the video preview – there may not be a release date for Neil Young’s Archives, Volume 1 but there is now a video trailer… and if you had any doubts before as to whether or not this set would be worth the wait and/or money, put those to rest. This thing looks unbelievable.
Trailer: Neil Young / Archives, Volume 1
Further to yesterday’s announcement of the Blitzen Trapper show at the Horseshoe on February 21, it’s been announced that support for the tour will be folksinger Alela Diane, who was recommended to me a number of times from independent sources in the last couple weeks. I’ll call that a sign. She’s releasing a new album in To Be Still on February 17th, from which you can check an MP3 and there’s also a session she recorded earlier this year for Songs By Toad and going way back to last year, a Daytrotter session.
The lineup for this year’s What’s In The Box? music series taking place at the Drake Hotel the final week of December (five nights, five acts, five bucks) has been announced… and I don’t know who any of these acts are. The first two years had at least one or two performers whom I was excited to see – Mahogany in 2006 and A Place To Bury Strangers last year – but the five acts with top billing this time around leave me scratching my head. Skratch Bastid? Willy Joy? Kap Bambino? Slim Twig? Nosaj Thing? Okay, Slim Twig I know, but anyone care to testify on behalf of any of the others?