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Thursday, February 19th, 2009

You, Me & The Bourgeoisie

The Morning Benders and The Submarines at The Drake Underground in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAnyone who needs a case study in the effectiveness of avenues like commercials and soundtracks to boost a band’s fortunes need look no further than The Submarines. On their last visit to Toronto in May 2008, despite having an excellent debut in Declare A New State under their belt and another fine record in Honeysuckle Weeks just released, they drew a crowd of about 50 people to their show at the Drake Undeground (or so I was told – I wasn’t one of the 50). Seven months, one appearance on a hit soundtrack and one iPhone commercial later, they were back at the Drake and playing to a packed house.

But despite their being the main draw for most of those in attendance, the Submarines were technically on a co-headline tour with Berkeley, California’s Morning Benders and co-headline etiquette dictated that they alternate closing things out and on this night, The Submarines drew the undercard and were up first. Principals Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti seemed a bit of an odd pairing, she adorable and effervescent, he downcast and reserved, but there was no denying they made beautiful music together.

Though reliant on a laptop to map out their rich and shimmery pop as well as fill in the sonic spaces, The Submarines kept things feeling loose and organic thanks to the extra oomph contributed by drummer J Stare. Taking lead vocals on most songs, Hazard switched between glockenspiel, tambourine and guitar while Dragonetti stuck with the six-string, stepping up to the mic when needed. Their set was split fairly evenly between both records and punctuated by Hazard’s hilarious between-song ramblings, mostly centered around her delight with all things Canadian – props were given to our statutory holidays, our traffic signs and our squirrels. Though encore-less, they still played for a solid and eminently enjoyable hour wrapping, of course, with that song from that commercial and that other song from that soundtrack. Hey, they know what the people were there for.

The Morning Benders might have been justified in fearing their full house would empty out before they took the stage, but while a fair number of people did leave a healthy number remained and a good percentage of those seemed genuinely stoked to see them. For my part, I was mildly curious – what I’d heard of them and their latest album Talking Through Tin Cans sounded like decent but not outstanding jangle-pop, and I wanted to see if they brought anything else to the table. And while they did display a facility for getting noisier and more rhythmic than I’d expected, it was still largely better-than-average jangle pop, delivered entertainingly and engagingly. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Black Book lists off 25 random things about The Submarines.

Photos: The Morning Benders, The Submarines @ The Drake Underground – February 15, 2009
MP3: The Morning Benders – “Waiting For A War”
MP3: The Morning Benders – “1940”
MP3: The Submarines – “You, Me And The Bourgeoisie”
MP3: The Submarines – “Waiting For A War”
Video: The Morning Benders – “Waiting For A War”
Video: The Morning Benders – “Damnit Anna”
Video: The Morning Benders – “Boarded Doors”
Video: The Submarines – “You, Me And The Bourgeoisie”
MySpace: The Morning Benders
MySpace: The Submarines

In conversation with BBC, Bernard Butler pretty much dashes any hopes for a Suede reunion. Unconfirmed rumours have Richard Oakes hanging around the BBC offices offering his thoughts on a Suede reunion to an uninterested custodial staff.

This Is Fake DIY and Click Music interview Emmy The Great.

Prefix has an interview with Los Campesinos, in town at the Opera House on April 1.

Jason Isbell talks to Nashville City Paper about the touring life, which brings he and his 400 Unit to the Horseshoe on March 4. Their new album Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit came out this week.

MP3: Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – “Seven Mile Island”

Clash converses with Frida Hyvonen.

Dig For Fire hangs out with Shearwater, video camera in hand.

The Quietus discusses London architecture with Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne.

Pitchfork reports that Superchunk will release their first new material in forever with the Leaves in the Gutter EP, out April 7. It’s unknown if this is a precursor to more new material or just a one-off, but new ‘Chunk is good ‘Chunk. Sloth love ‘Chunk.

Pitchfork talks to Patrick Wolf about his new album(s) formerly known as Battle. The first volume, The Bachelor, appears set for a June 1 release.

Alankomaat and Rolling Stone interview Bishop Allen, whose new record Grr… is out March 10.

CBC Radio 3, The Vancouver Courier and Corriere Tandem all talk to AC Newman. He plays Lee’s Palace on March 11.

The New York Times and Mother Jones have features on Neko Case, whose Middle Cyclone is out March 3. Both her shows at Trinity-St. Paul on April 17 and 18 are sold out.

Question – has anyone ever been to Primavera Sound in Barcelona? Because looking at the lineup so far, and looking at the prices for travel and lodging, I am seriously considering spending the last week of May on the Mediterranean coast… And you may recall that not long ago I exhorted Jarvis Cocker to play somewhere that I could plan a vacation around – well he’s kept his end of the bargain. It’s up to me now. So yes, any thoughts on the Primavera Festival or Barcelona in general are appreciated.

By : Frank Yang at 8:22 am
Category: Concert Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post12 Responses.
  1. stytzer says:

    I’ve never been to Primavera, but been in Barcelona a couple of times. It’s a beautiful city pretty much covering every interest you might have. Food, history, culture (Gaudi, Miro, Picasso), sports, shopping etc. And there’s a beach located in walking distance from the La Rambla, as the weather most likely should be fine at the end of May. It’s one of those cities I’ll always return too, and I can only recommend that you go. Especially when you have this unique opportunity to combine a visit with the interesting lineup of the festival!

  2. Michael O says:

    My friends went last year and said it was the best festival they have been to, never seemed too crowded and you could walk up close to the stages if you wanted.

  3. sfc says:

    I went to Primavera Sounds twice but not in its current location. It’s a lovely festival. The weather is great and it isn’t as hot as the summer time (i.e. Benicassim/Fiber). The festival, like other Spanish festivals, was quite well run. Although, bear in mind that unlike other festivals (UK, Japan, Canada), things start later than usual. The evening festivities don’t start until late afternoon and the headliners weren’t on until 1am. This can be good thing if you like late night action and you don’t have to worry about getting home as the festival ends just as the subway is starting the following morning. If not a good thing, there’s red bull. Curious line-up as both Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth played one of the years I was there and Pulp and Spiritualized at another year. I say go for it, there’s nothing like drinking a massive Estrella Damm watching a great band in the Spanish spring air. Besides, Spanish fans are quite passionate about their music, which helps to create the right festival atmosphere.

  4. Torr says:

    fyi: I updated Bernard Butler’s wiki the other day with a list of everyone he’s collab/produced post-Suede. When you put it all together you see that, hot damn he’s worked on a ton of good stuff. He puts Marr’s post-Smiths output to shame, and in half the time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Butler

  5. giselle says:

    barcelona is one of the great cities in the world – everyone should go at least once and to be able to combine it with a music festival with a pretty good lineup should be a no-brainer … go – eat lots of paella, take lots of pics, do the dali museum as a daytrip, you’re guaranteed a great time

  6. Bruce says:

    So, how do you really feel about Richard Oakes? Funny. A little cold, but funny.

    Primavera — wow, all that in three days? Puts our little island festival to shame!

    Remember saying to just listen to the free download of the Joy Formidable album and thank you later? Here I am now, thanking you. I really enjoy it, great sound, very engaging and consistent from end to end.

    Even more thanks for my other new favourite thing, Polly Scattergood (and Nitrogen Pink in particular). While I understand the Tori Amos comparisons, we each have our own personal associations, and having never been a big Tori fan, I’ll go with a song written by Kate Bush and given to Bjork to sing with the Arcade Fire as her backing band (owing to the slow build to a galloping onrush of momentum). Goosebumpy goodness.

  7. Alvaro Miranda says:

    I completely agree with SFC

    The “Parc del Forum” location perfect (the stages are spread far enough) and the topography of the venue, and the massive scale of the architectual features prevent sound “leakage”,

    The subway station is just off the venue, also a kubrick-esque auditorion ensures a perfect setting for more intimate performances (Bon Iver, Portishead, Young Marble Giant, at last year fest)

    Bands start playing late-afternoon, which is great to recover from the previous night madness, go to the beach and give that SLR a good use around EL Barrio Gothico.

    (Dj-sets can go til sunrise most electronic acts start around latenight/earlymorning, which several styles going at the same time if you want to shake it to the ground, or space-out a bit.

  8. Jordan says:

    My ex went to Primavera two summers ago and raved about it. Do it, Frank.

  9. Marius says:

    For any Neko Case fans, you have a breakfast bonus opportunity this coming Sunday morning. Fabchannel.com will be video streaming her Amsterdam show live at 10:00 a.m ! Sky Larkin may also liven your lunch, as they follow at 2:30 p.m.

  10. Frank Yang says:

    thanks everyone – I’m pretty much sold. In fact I was sold before I even asked, but it’s nice to have the reinforcement… I’m going to put in for media accreditation at the start of next month and hope that comes through – then I can book everything and get excited.

  11. mike says:

    I hadn’t looked too much into going to Primavera but only because I’d been focusing my attention on Benicassim which takes place in Spain as well but in the summer. I’ve been proscratinating about booking anything so far and I really want to decide soon. Perhaps I’ll put in a request for media accred for Primavera too and see what happens. Would you still go if you didn’t get media accred?

    I tried for media accred for Coachella but didn’t get it(since you have to be associated with a national publication) but I’m still pondering going. Sasquatch takes place just prior to Primavera and I’m wondering about maybe going to that too.

    My sights are really set on a foreign music festival since I’ve already been to Coachella and Sasquatch, albeit without a press pass but they were still great.

    How do you find the flight prices to Barcelona? I tried expedia.ca and they’re kinda expensive.

  12. Frank Yang says:

    honestly Benicassim doesnt interest me that much – I’d much rather see Jarvis and MBV than Oasis and The Killers. I think I’m all about the mid-size fests. And as you’ve found, getting accreditation for the big ones is tough to say the least. I feel good about my chances for Primavera accred – might still go even if I don’t get it but not being able to shoot with all those bands around, especially since I’d bring my gear for tourist purposes around the city anyway, would be torture. I’ll decide that when it becomes an issue. I think I’d much prefer the fest from a “working” POV than just attendee.

    Flights aren’t terribly expensive – $1000 is what it’ll cost you to get anywhere in Europe. and the hotels, while not cheap, are still cheaper than what I paid for London last year so that’s a bit of a relief.