Thursday, July 16th, 2009
Micachu & The Shapes at the El Mocambo in Toronto
Frank YangTo this point, whenever I’ve mentioned London’s Micachu, I’ve been sure to mention my ambivalence towards their debut album Jewellery and my inability to discern if it’s great or, well, not so great. But I think the fact that I keep going back to it rather than just discard it and move onto any of the countless other records within arm’s reach says a lot about what my gut says, as does the fact that this past Tuesday night, an evening with no shortage of entertainment options that were pretty much guaranteed to be great, I opted to head to the El Mocambo to see Micachu & The Shapes make their Toronto debut – a decidedly less safe bet, but one that could potentially pay off immensely.
For reasons unknown, opener Anni Rossi dropped off the bill at the last minute – I’d seen her just a few weeks prior so I wasn’t too disappointed – and a local act by name of Animal Monster was tagged to open. And if it were the sort of show where people might have been inclined to dance, then he and his setup of sequencers and samplers might have fit, but with people seated comfortably at tables, his repetitive dance beats with keyboard melodies overtop were just monotonous. At first, some heads were bobbing but before long, they were just hanging in resignation.
Things perked up once Animal Monster shuffled off, with the respectably-sized crowd gathering at the front of the stage to examine Micachu’s unusual stage setup – after all, its not often you see upturned wine bottles mounted on cymbal stands or empty paint cans as part of a percussion kit, and that doesn’t even include the homemade instruments that they kept with them backstage. So given the kitchen sink clatter aesthetic of the record and the similarly random nature of the band’s gear, it would have been understandable to assume that Micachu’s show would be more about making a gleeful cacophony than anything else, and while their performance was indeed gleeful, it was far from chaotic.
Actually what was most impressive about their show – and pretty much all of it was enjoyable and impressive – was how precise and meticulous they were about crafting what, on the surface, seemed to be so random. They were like a musical junk shop transformed into an elaborate sonic Rube Goldberg contraption, the payoff being completely left-field compositions that were still undeniably pop. Mica Levy and her bandmates, in matching white t-shirts, had their hands full recreating much of the fuzzy textures, details and cul de sacs of the recorded versions – far more than I’d expected – and seemed to be having a great time, appreciative of the enthusiastic crowd, when they weren’t utterly intent on the work at hand. With only one record’s worth of material to draw from, the show was understandably short, clocking in at well under an hour, but they did deliver everything they had and that was plenty. No more hedging. Micachu is great.
eye was also at the show, was also impressed.
Photos: Micachu & The Shapes @ The El Mocambo – July 14, 2009
MP3: Micachu – “Lips”
Video: Micachu – “Golden Phone”
Video: Micachu – “Lips”
Micachu has also teamed up with Alessi’s Ark, Sinead O’Connor and Roisin Murphy and Chaka Khan’s to cover Khan’s “I Am Every Woman” in support of ActionAid UK’s 6 Degrees project for womens rights. There’s also a remix of the track by Ladytron, a free Bat For Lashes live MP3 if you invite some friends to the site and a video of Micachu performing “Waste” at the Six Degrees launch party at the ICA in London. Go, download, listen, read and spread the word.
Art Brut’s Eddie Argos declares his love of the Scott Pilgrim comics at Playback:StL – imagine how excited he’ll be when he learns that the Lee’s Palace stage they’ll be playing on August 12 just recently hosted the filming of the Clash At Demonhead scene for the Scott Pilgrim movie!
Two Hours Traffic have released the title track from their next album Territory, out September 8, as a free download.
Thanks to Slowcoustic for pointing out this Camera Music video featuring The Rural Alberta Advantage performing in a bus shelter on Queen St and the Drake Hotel’s patio. New video blog Morning Noon Night also digs up some live footage of the band in a basement at a Canadian Musicfest after-party back in March, and also check out their primo placement in the trailer for the new Alicia Silverstone/Alanis Morissette comedy – man, that film is going to be so quirky! There’s also an interview with the band at the Omaha World-Herald – their next local gig is at the Horseshoe on July 30 and then they’ll be at V Fest on August 29.
Two more acts playing V Fest – Scandinavians both – have just released new MP3s. Denmark’s Mew have a new one from No More Stories, out August 25, via NME and Norway’s Datarock are sharing a track from their new one Red through Spinner.
And also on that bill is Anna Ternheim, who has released a first MP3 from her new album Leaving On A Mayday, out August 11. Also check out the video of an acoustic performance of the same song.