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Friday, June 12th, 2009

Awkward Kisser

Telekinesis, An Horse and Oh No Forest Fires at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangSo if an artist has already proven themselves to be gifted at both writing a song and recording it, as was the case with Michael Lerner of Telekinesis, is it really fair to expect them to be superb live performers as well? Especially if you take into account the fact that the album – Telekinesis! – was essentially a solo project and the band assembled after the fact? I say not really. Obviously a scintillating stage show would be welcome, but I went into Wednesday night’s show at the Horseshoe with modest expectations.

And anyways, any cravings I had for manic rock shenanigans were well satiated by local openers Oh No Forest Fires. I’ve tried in the past to accurately describe the quartet and their sound, but think they themselves did so more succinctly by namechecking The Dismemberment Plan in their NXNE one-line RIYL. This isn’t to say they sound like the the dear, departed DP, but they are similar in the way they meld virtuosity with anarchy and make it power-pop sweet without compromising their weirdness quotient. Their compact warm-up set drew heavily from their 2008 debut The War On Geometry and featured lots of sweaty flailing and great tunes. Long set or short, these guys always give a tremendous effort and don’t disappoint.

Aussies An Horse I’d seen during CMW and the duo were certainly making the most of their work visas, this being their third show in Toronto in the past three months. The hard work appeared to have been paying off, however, as a pretty good-sized crowd had gathered by the time they took the stage and kicked off a set that was far superior to their CMW one if for no other reason than singer/guitarist Kate Cooper was able to perform without fear of being electrocuted by poorly grounded equipment. You’d be amazed how much mortal fear can disrupt a performer’s vibe. She was also sporting a new guitar, a very fetching racing-striped orange Fender Mustang with a P90 in the bridge which significantly beefed up their sound – it may seem a minor thing, but when you’re working with as few ingredients as An Horse are, every bit counts. Unchanged were the quality of the tunes from their debut Rearrange Beds – taut, anxious and melodic, and worthy of the attention the audience was giving them.

Most drummers with songwriting ambitions will do anything to get out from behind the kit and play frontman. Not Michael Lerner. A one-man show through the writing and recording of his debut album, when he put together his touring band he opted to take the role of drummer for himself. Now I know as well as anyone that finding a good drummer is probably the hardest part of assembling a band, but watching them set up the stage with the drum kit right up front, I had to wonder if this was going to be a good idea. And watching Lerner drop his sticks at least twice during the first song while not singing directly into the mic, it really appeared as though it wasn’t but within a couple of tunes, he’d settled in some and was mostly keeping it together. There were still more gaffes than you’d have gotten with a dedicated drummer and I think he gave up on singing the second verse of “Tokyo” entirely, but by and large acceptable. On the unqualified positive side, the songs really came kicked in a live setting, benefiting from some of the ragged energy the quartet imbued them with. They weren’t the most charismatic bunch but were exceedingly friendly and looked to be having a great time, cracking jokes and poking fun at one another. With an album barely a half hour in length, it wasn’t surprising their set was short, padded out with a sprightly Kinks cover, and while I don’t know if they left anyone wanting more, no one was left wanting either. Hopefully next time around they’ll have polished up just a bit more – maybe Lerner will have a better grip on those sticks – and maybe have some more tunes in their bag.

I Heart The Music has an interview with Oh No Forest Fires, whose next gig is this Thursday evening at the Drake Underground as part of I Heart Music’s NxNE showcase. Love Shack, Baby talks to An Horse.

Photos: Telekinesis, An Horse, Oh No Forest Fires @ The Horseshoe – June 10, 2009
MP3: Telekinesis – “Coast Of Carolina”
MP3: Telekinesis – “I Saw Lightning”
MP3: An Horse – “Postcards”
MP3: An Horse – “Camp Out”
MP3: Oh No Forest Fires – “It’s Not Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye”
Video: Telekinesis – “Tokyo”
Video: Telekinesis – “Awkward Kisser”
Video: An Horse – “Camp Out”
MySpace: An Horse

eye, Metro and The Age interview Phoenix, who have managed to sell out Monday night’s performance at the Phoenix. This is going to be good.

Pink Mountaintops mainman Stephen McBean talks to eye – they’re in town on Sunday, June 14, for an in-store at Sonic Boom at 3PM and a proper show at the Horseshoe that evening.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears are sticking around in town for a bit after opening up for New York Dolls at Lee’s Palace on June 30, and will play an in-store at Criminal Records on July 1 at 3PM.

Video: Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears – “Sugarfoot”

Los Angeles’ Airborne Toxic Event have a date at the Phoenix on October 19.

MP3: The Airborne Toxic Event – “Sometime Around Midnight”
MP3: The Airborne Toxic Event – “Wishing Well”

Black Book welcomes The Kills to their offices for some arts and crafts fun.

NME reveals that Richard Hawley’s new album is complete – Truelove’s Gutter will be out on September 21 and yes, the title is another Sheffield reference. As if you had to ask.

Out interviews Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan. There’s also a new remix of “Daniel” by Tara Busch up for grabs in exchange for your deets.

Cornershop Studios talks to Andy Williams of Doves, who have themselves a new video.

Video: Doves – “Winter Hill”

Under The Radar has confirmed that the Jim James/M Ward/Conor Oberst-powered supergroup The Monsters Of Folk have gone from a strictly touring concern to a studio one, and will release their debut album on September 22.

NPR has an interview and session with Jason Lytle, who will be opening up for Neko Case at Massey Hall on July 14.

By : Frank Yang at 8:22 am
Category: General

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RSS Feed for this post5 Responses.
  1. scott says:

    Jason also popped into KCRW for a Morning Becomes Eclectic session…
    http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/mb/mb090610jason_lytle

  2. Ashley says:

    Re: Telekinesis

    I was there right in front of a cymbal and you wrote what I didn’t have to: When I noticed him drop the stick once, I was fine, but the second time I became nervous and had this vision of getting impaled in the forehead. They needed some warmup time, but afterwards came together.

    Also, I loved Oh No Forest Fires! I had heard many good things, but they absolutely blew me away. I was sad when they ended. Do you know who came up to sing with the (I think) guitarist during one song?

    An Horse were so charming and funny.

  3. Ashley says:

    Also–I noticed more photographers in front than people really interested in Telekinesis. It was really strange and reminded me that the band came with a bit of hype surrounded by them through the press/music blogs.

  4. Tart says:

    Thanks for the shout out! An Horse were the loveliest people to interview.

    I have to say, Telekeninesis did a great job here in Chicago. I wish I had spent more time up front watching them but it was seriously packed and I’m a bit squeamish about crowds. There was no stick dropping, Michael was wonderful in both voice and drums, and the band was tight. I said hello to him after the show, to compliment him on “Coast of Carolina” which is just a freakin great pop song, to my ear, and he was the sweetest guy. So, opening leg of the tour went off without a hitch. I’m sorry to hear they had a wobble by the time they got to you! Better luck on the next stop, eh!?! xoxo

  5. Noah says:

    Any word on a Monsters of Folk tour in support of their upcoming album?