Monday, February 22nd, 2010
Phantogram at The Drake Underground in Toronto
Frank YangFor solo artists, it’s easy. Either play alone and keep things stripped down and simple (or, as is becoming more fashionable, looped) or gather up a band. Duos, however, are more and more inclined to try and make a go of it without hired help, particularly duos who’re already heavily reliant on technology for their studio efforts – after all, you don’t have to feed a laptop. And if the cost of that convenience is some energy and spontenaity in the live setting, then so be it.
So despite being quite taken with Eyelid Movies, the debut album from the great state of New York’s Phantogram, I went into their Toronto debut at the Drake Underground on Saturday night with modest expectations. But even if I’d gone in demanding to witness great things, I’d have still left feeling the same way – pretty damned impressed.
Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter don’t travel with much – she with a number of synths and laptop, he with a guitar and extensive but not excessive pedalboard – but armed with a brace of great songs and a genuine joy of playing them for people, it was all they’d need. Just as their idea of dream pop isn’t about hazy somnambulance, there was no de rigeur synth-pop iciness in their delivery – Barthel delivered her lines with emotion and whipped her head around to the rhythm when not, while Carter, whose vocals sounded even better live than on record, took advantage of the mobility afforded him by the guitar and wandered around the stage, adding some extra physicality to their performance. This, combined with the well-chosen projections that bathed the band during their set, made for a show that was more dynamic and engaging than some of their stylistic peers could achieve. They were having their own little dance party on stage and the rest of us were just lucky to be invited.
Phantogram will be back on March 12 for a show at Supermarket as part of Canadian Musicfest.
The New York Times has a feature piece on Holly Miranda, and confirms that The Jealous Girlfriends are pretty much done. There’s also an interview at Miami New Times with Miranda, whose solo debut The Magician’s Private Library is out this week. Her former bandmates continue on in New Numbers.
Joanna Newsom is the subject of an extensive feature in The Times, just in time for the release of her new triple-album Have One On Me this week. I will have hopefully made it through the opus at least once before her March 13 show at the Phoenix.
Spinner talks to Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater, who’ve just released a new video – and live solo performance clip – from their new album The Golden Archipelago, out on Tuesday. They play Lee’s Palace on April 1.
Stream: Quasi / American Gong
Aux.tv has compiled a list of the best contemporary shoegaze bands right now.
Torontoist reports that plans are afoot for Downsview Park to host Imagine on July 10 and 11, a two-day festival from the people who brought you Woodstock (but not the knockoff sequels) intended to resurrect the ideals of hippie peace and love through a big-ass concert at a former military base. No acts have been announced but they’ve already promised tributes to The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin so that should give you some notion as to what direction they’re looking in. But if they manage to a) actually stage this thing and b) have it be the biggest concert in 40 years as they say, it’ll be impossible to ignore and the law of averages states they’ll have at least SOME interesting performers. Even if they’re only invited to join the inevitable mass, on-stage “Give Peace A Chance” singalong.