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Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Know Better Learn Faster

Thao With The Get Down Stay Down and The Portland Cello Project at The El Mocambo in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf I’d managed to get to the El Mocambo on Sunday night in time to catch first act David Schultz & The Skyline, I think I could legitimately lay claim to have seen the longest bill – in character count, at least – of all time. But it didn’t happen so I had to settle for just one of the longest in recent memory, thanks to Thao with The Get Down Stay Down and The Portland Cello Project.

As the more insightful might have discerned, The Portland Cello Project is indeed a cello-based musical project hailing from Rose City. Though infinitely scalable when at home, the touring edition of the PCP numbered four cellists who entertained a reasonably healthy-sized Sunday evening crowd with some great banter and mostly-instrumental covers of songs familiar and unfamiliar, including ones by Pantera and Elliott Smith. For one song they were joined by Justin Power for an original number taken from their latest record The Thao & Justin Power Sessions and closed with an audience participatory “Hey Ya!”, assisted by the Get Down Stay Down.

If nothing else, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down are taking home some great road stories from this tour. Both the Portland Cello Project and Thao seemed to be in a state of disbelief of the previous night’s Hallowe’en show in Detroit where they played next door to an Insane Clown Posse party and its attendant hordes of Juggalos, and while Toronto couldn’t compare with that degree of absurdity, the band – and particularly deathly allergic bassist Adam Thompson – was haunted by a phantom cat, who could be heard meowing throughout the between-song lulls, but was never found.

None of the above had anything to do with the show itself, but were still key facets of a terrific evening because Thao with The Get Down Stay Down were all about having and providing a good time through jokes, stories, banter, beatboxing and oh yeah, the music. Until this night, I’d missed Thao every time they’d come through town as well as a myriad of opportunities at the last two SxSW’s but now, finally, I can add my voice to the chorus of those who extol their live show – in short, it’s fantastic. Though both of their records, 2008’s We Brave Bee Stings And All and this year’s terrific Know Better Learn Faster, crackle with a giddy energy, seeing Thao Nguyen utterly dominate the fretboard of her giant hollowbody guitar while lurching around stage and hollering into the mic is something to behold. Similarly, the intense rhythmic aspect of the band doesn’t seem to be done justice by the albums because live, everything felt like a dance song or at least one that you wanted to dance to whether you had any moves or not. They put on an unrestrained, joyous show that was made me simultaneously glad I finally made it out to see them, angry that I had waited so long and determined that I wouldn’t miss them again. And also grateful that at no point did Adam Thompson go into anaphylactic shock. A night of win.

Blurt has a large feature and Metro a super-short one on Thao. And grab an MP3 of “When We Swam” at RCRDLBL.

Photos: Thao With The Get Down Stay Down, The Portland Cello Project @ The El Mocambo – November 1, 2009
MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Know Better Learn Faster”
MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Beat (Health, Life and Fire)”
MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Swimming Pools”
MP3: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Bag Of Hammers”
MP3: The Portland Cello Project – “Travel”
MP3: The Portland Cello Project – “Tallymarks”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “When We Swam”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Cool Yourself”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Swimming Pools”
Video: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Bag Of Hammers”
Video: The Portland Cello Project – “Tallymarks”
MySpace: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down
MySpace: The Portland Cello Project

The AV Club gets the whys behind recent changes with Nicole Atkins and her band.

Spinner talks to J Tillman, who brings his new album Year In The Kingdom to the Horseshoe on November 11.

Bishop Allen have premiered a new video from Grr… over at Stereogum. The Omaha World-Herald has a short interview with Justin Rice.

Video: Bishop Allen – “True Or False”

Antlers’ Peter Silbeman talks to The San Antonio Current and Orange County Weekly.

PopMatters has an interview with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats.

John Vanderslice talks to State.

Daytrotter have got a session with White Rabbits available to download while LAist talks to frontman Stephen Patterson.

Paste reports that the release of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon-era live record Dreamin’ Man has been pushed back until December 8.

You Ain’t No Picasso has an interview with Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras. They play the Opera House on December 5.

Two Hours Traffic – who were just here last month, yes – have made another Toronto date for November 21 at The Garrison, but the difference is this one is an all-ages gig. Tickets are $10 in advance.

MP3: Two Hours Traffic – “Territory”

Final Fantasy will mark the January 12 release of Heartland with a hometown show that evening at the Mod Club.

Seattle duo The Dutchess & The Duke have a new album out in Sunset/Sunrise and are touring it through the Winter including a just-announced date at Sneaky Dee’s on January 12.

MP3: The Dutchess & The Duke – “Living This Life”
MP3: The Dutchess & The Duke – “Hands”

It’s a double-shot of Dave Lowery when Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven hit the road together this Winter and stop in at Lee’s Palace on January 16. Cracker also have a new video out featuring one Patterson Hood.

Video: Cracker – “Friends”

By : Frank Yang at 8:27 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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RSS Feed for this post3 Responses.
  1. Scott says:

    “You Ain’t No Picasso has an interview with Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras. They play the Opera House on October 5.”

    I think it’s December 5th… [smirk]

  2. amie says:

    it was a really great show! and i’m glad you said “everything felt like a dance song”. i felt like a crazy person…i was one of maybe 3 people dancing, or even swaying to the music.

    it WAS full of win.

  3. anja says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing Final Fantasy. I was hoping a Toronto show would be announced soon.