Thursday, February 19th, 2009
You, Me & The Bourgeoisie
The Morning Benders and The Submarines at The Drake Underground in Toronto
Frank 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.
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.
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.