Monday, April 26th, 2010
Set The Sails
Dan Mangan and Aidan Knight at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank YangDan Mangan has come through town a few times since his show at the Rivoli last October, but for my purposes that show and the one this past Thursday night at the Horseshoe make for very good comparison points. At that show, I noted he seemed “on the cusp of bigger things” and while the ‘Shoe is physically bigger than the Rivoli by a fair margin, selling it out as fully as Mangan did also represents a sort of watershed moment for a Canadian artist. Dan Mangan isn’t just rising; he’s risen.
And along for the ride (and this tour) was Victoria’s Aidan Knight, who himself has been getting some attention for his debut mini-album Versicolour… though not from me. Though I knew I had a copy, I hadn’t gotten around to checking it out before the show and so basically went into his opening set cold. What I found was an artist possessed of a voice that was simultaneously wearily aged yet earnestly youthful and with a timbre not unlike Tony Dekker’s and armed with a brace of songs whose tones ranged from quirky to weighty. Decent stuff made more entertaining thanks to Knight’s charmingly awkward stage presence and band arrangements that were more intricate and interesting than they probably needed to be. And I did finally give Versicolour a listen afterwards, and must say it’s a much more impressive document of Knight’s abilities than his live set was – well-crafted, musically ambitious and with just the right amount of downbeat mood, it definitely marks Knight as a talent to keep an eye on.
Which, really, is what people were probably saying about Dan Mangan a year or so ago, when his Roboteering EP was released and foreshadowed what was to come later last Summer with his second full-length Nice, Nice, Very Nice. And as much as credit must be given to that record for being excellent and one of my favourites of last year, I think it’s largely Mangan’s work ethic and relentless cross-country touring that was responsible for packing the Horseshoe on this night – the vibe in the room wasn’t so much of fans seeing a favourite performer but of friends visiting with one another, and that sort of rapport is really only built in the live setting.
Nowhere was this more clearly evident than early in the set for “The Indie Queens Are Waiting” – whereas at the Rivoli show, Mangan had a female band member cover Veda Hille’s vocals on the studio version, this time Mangan’s crew were all men so it seemed he was prepared to let the responses to his calls go unmade. The audience, however, would have none of it and quietly and chorally filled in that space, in particular one girl standing just behind me who nearly nailed Hille’s timbre and phrasing. Also unlike the Rivoli show, this time out Mangan had a full-time drummer behind him, giving the set a bit more meat and propulsion than in October but the overall pacing was kept at a fairly even keel and interspersed with corny jokes and anecdotes, such that the evening had less the feel of a performance than a friendly conversation. And for the quality of his songwriting and records, it’s that resonance and relatability that may be Mangan’s greatest talents – you can go far by just making great music, but there are some heights that can only be reached if you’re lifted up on the shoulders of your fans.
BlogTO, The Globe & Mail and Music Vice also have reviews of the show (though the Globe piece is really more of an extended, “I don’t get it”) while NOW and The Toronto Star chime in with feature pieces on Mangan.
Photos: Dan Mangan, Aidan Knight @ The Horseshoe – April 22, 2010
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Road Regrets”
MP3: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
MP3: Dan Mangan with Shane Koyzcan – “Tragic Turn Of Events/Move Pen Move”
MP3: Aidan Knight – “Jasper”
Video: Dan Mangan – “Robots”
Video: Dan Mangan – “The Indie Queens Are Waiting”
Video: Aidan Knight – “Jasper”
Stream: Dan Mangan / Roboteering
Stream: Dan Mangan / Nice, Nice, Very Nice
MySpace: Dan Mangan
MySpace: Aidan Knight
Fresh off announcing the release date of her new record – June 29 – M.I.A. has released the first decidedly NSFW video and leaked the corresponding MP3 from the record herself. Clearly, motherhood has mellowed her out. Yeah, right. Update: YouTube has moved the video behind the adults-only curtain. Kids of all ages can watch it and it’s ultra-violence at her website, though.
The Hot Chip/xx show from Washington DC this past weekend is now available to stream at NPR, and if you want some visuals to go with the audio, check out the photos over at Photokyle. There’s also a Hot Chip feature at The Independent.
Video: An Horse – “Postcards”
It seems I jumped the gun a bit on announcing that Mirah show at the Horseshoe last week. Not because the show’s not happening – it is, on June 26 – but because it’s part of a massive co-headline tour with Thao with The Get Down Stay Down. I can’t speak for the live Mirah experience – or the recorded one, really – but Thao live is terrific. I suspect this show – and tour – is wholly worth your time.
Crooked Fingers has taken to Kickstarter to solicit financing for a most worthy of projects – a follow-up to their 2002 covers EP Reservoir Songs. Pledges can be for as little as $1, but starting at the $6 point you’re entitled to a download of the finished product, while $15 or $25 gets you a limited-edition LP and if you get into the four-figure territory, you can get to pick a song for them to cover or have them come to your living room to perform. For serious. They’re targeting an early Summer release for the EP and a new Crooked Fingers full-length before the year is out.
Seeing as how they initially reported on its existence, it seems fitting that Torontoist have an update of sorts on the Imagine Concert, which is still supposed to usher in a new Age of Aquarius (aren’t we already in one?) emanating from Downsview Park in Toronto starting the weekend of July 10 and 11. It seems the city still hasn’t signed off, never mind provincial or federal authorities and the promoter is tilting at windmills and trying to pay artists fees with peace and love. I also apparently gave them too much credit in assuming they’d secured The Flaming Lips as part of the “Pink Floyd tribute” portion of the show as updated touring itineraries show the Lips as being at Ottawa Bluesfest on the 10th and in Louisville, Kentucky on the 11th. That does, however, leave two days open between Montreal on the 7th and Ottawa on the 10th where the Lips could conceivably make their first Toronto appearance in three and a half years. Presumably at a show that would pay them in actual money, and not just good vibes. Now don’t get me wrong – I still hope this thing happens and that it’s wonderful or at least interesting (in a good way or a train wreck way, whichever) – but it doesn’t look too good right now.