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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Our Own Pretty Ways

First Aid Kit and Samantha Crain at The Rivoli in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThis past Saturday night was one of those evenings with absolutely no shortage of options for Toronto concert-goers – and that’s even before Arcade Fire showed up to siphon off another 1000 people or so to the east end – so I wasn’t sure how well the Toronto debut for both Sweden’s First Aid Kit and Oklahoma’s Samantha Crain at The Rivoli would do, particularly since I heard that First Aid Kit’s free in-store at Criminal Records earlier that afternoon – which I had to miss – was only lightly attended. Any concerns about possibly being the only one there, however, evaporated when I got to the Rivoli’s back room and literally had to squeeze my way through throngs of attendees to get near the front. Yeah, people were there.

I was there to see the headliners but the addition of Samantha Crain & The Midnight Shivers to the bill – which required them to drive for 14 hours straight following their set at Bonnaroo the night before – actually had me more excited. I’d been hearing great things about Crain for over a year – before last year’s SxSW, I think – but had managed to not get around to hearing any of her music beyond a few drive-by MySpace visits, so her set promised to combine the joy of a new discovery with the assurance that it’d be good. And it was. Classifying Crain as a folk-pop singer-songwriter type is technically accurate, but really doesn’t do the scope of her talents justice. As her set ably demonstrated, in addition to writing songs that are both melodic and affecting, she delivers them in a voice rich with soul and a touch of twang and on top of all that, she’s a fierce guitarist – acoustic and electric, thanks. And she’s funny. Needless to say, everyone who’s been telling me that she’s great over the last however long – you were right. And to everyone who hasn’t heard her yet… you should. Her latest album is the just-released You (Understood). Seek it out.

Crain might have set the bar high, and First Aid Kit were well-set to clear it, thanks in no small part to being frighteningly tall. Both Klara and Johanna Söderberg measure in at close to six feet tall (the former just shorter, the latter a good deal taller) and considering they’re just 20 and 17 years old respectively, they might have a spurt or two left in them. But even so, their statures aren’t the most remarkable things about them – that’d be their voices. I’ve talked about how their respective quirks complimented each other perfectly on record, but it’s live that you really can’t help but be impressed by how perfect their pitch was – hearing them sing was like a master class in harmony. Accompanying themselves simply but effectively on acoustic guitar and keyboard (and occasionally accordion and autoharp), the duo and touring drummer showcased material from their debut Drunken Trees EP and the full-length follow-up The Big Black & The Blue, punctuated by sharp and sassy between-song banter (“we’d like to do a cover by a band called Fleet…. wood Mac”). The set highlight came about midway through when they stepped away from the mics to sing the beautifully sad “Ghost Town” unamplified to the full house. A close second was their encore, for which they brought out Samantha Crain and performed her “Dam Song”, complete with absurdly great three-part harmonies. There may have been plenty of other higher-profile entertainment options in town on Saturday, but I don’t think any of the hundred or so people who chose to hit the Rivoli had any regrets.

First Aid Kit have added another installment to their Filter tour blog (though the Toronto show only gets a passing mention – apparently we have nice architecture). Samantha Crain is profiled by The San Francisco Examiner, Oklahoma Gazette and The Oklahoman and also recently recorded a session for Daytrotter.

Photos: First Aid Kit, Samantha Crain @ The Rivoli – June 12, 2010
MP3: First Aid Kit – “I Met Up With The King”
MP3: First Aid Kit – “You’re Not Coming Home Tonight”
MP3: Samantha Crain – “Traipsing Through The Aisles”
Video: First Aid Kit – “Hard Believer”
Video: First Aid Kit – “I Met Up With The King”
Video: Samantha Crain – “Santa Fe”
Video: Samantha Crain – “Traipsing Through The Aisles”
MySpace: Samantha Crain

The St. Louis Tribune, Uptown and AV Club talk to John Darnielle and Peter Hughes of The Mountain Goats.

Spinner talks to Joe Pernice about the new Pernice Brothers record, Goodbye, Killer. It’s out today and available to stream for the next week at Spinner.

Stream: Pernice Brothers / Goodbye, Killer

The Flaming Lips have a new video from Embryonic available to gawk at. You can gawk at the band in real life at the Molson Amphitheatre on July 8 and get a preview of what to expect via this NPR stream of this past weekend’s Bonnaroo set, though you really need to get all your senses in play when experiencing a Flaming Lips show.

Video: The Flaming Lips – “The Sparrow Looks Up At The Machine”

The Books will be on tour this Fall in support of their new record The Way Out, out July 20, and will be at the Mod Club on October 25.

MP3: The Books – “Beautiful People”

PitchforkTV solicits a live performance of “The Sweet Part Of The City” from The Hold Steady. They have a July 17 date at the Kool Haus.

Spinner is hosting a series of web videos from Fanfarlo entitled Under The Reservoir.

Magnet talks to Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake as the Fannies prepare to take over the editor’s desk of their website this week. Blake also talks to The AV Club about their new record Shadows and to Metro about moving to Canada (he now resides in Kitchener-Waterloo).

Spinner talks to The Joy Formidable about making their debut EP A Balloon Called Moaning.

Kele gives an interview to The Quietus and eye about his solo debut The Boxer, due out next week. He’s at the Mod Club on July 29.

Chart sics Narduwar on Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

That The xx are coming back to town isn’t remarkable in and of itself – they’ve already been here thrice since last December. What is remarkable is that for their Fall tour, they’ve booked their September 29 date… for Massey Hall. Tickets will be $25 to $45 with presale starting tomorrow, regular onsale come Friday. Presumably there’ll be a new record released between now and then, and say what you will about their suitability for such a not-so-basic space, but there’s no question that their show will sound great. Their Bonnaroo set is also up to stream at NPR.

MP3: The xx – “Basic Space”

Islands have set a date at the Mod Club for July 14 – tickets $13.50 in advance.

MP3: Islands – “Vapours”

July 21 brings Jason Collett out for a show at the Mod Club supported by Daniel, Fred & Julie; tickets $16.50 in advance.

MP3: Jason Collett – “Love Is A Dirty Word”
MP3: Daniel, Fred & Julie – “The Gambler & His Bride”

With his own show at the Opera House last Saturday in the books, Shad has been announced as support for K’Naan’s October 1 show at the Kool Haus. Best of Canadian hip-hop, anyone?

Miike Snow have a date at the Kool Haus on October 9, tickets $25.

Video: Miike Snow – “Black & Blue”

By : Frank Yang at 8:31 am
Category: Concert Reviews

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

    Do you think Flamings Lips will be doing a “Classic Albums Live” performance of Dark Side of the Moon? They’ve been doing that during festivals lately, I hear…

  2. Frank Yang says:

    it’s hard to say. when it was just Lips and Spoon and with the given door times, I’d have said yes – a regular set and a Dark Side set – because they were getting started really early. But the addition of Fang Island and Tokyo Police Club to the bill makes me think maybe not. But I really don’t know.

  3. The xx and Warpaint at Massey Hall in Toronto | MP3 Music at MixBurner says:

    […] YangWhen it was announced in June that The xx were not only coming back to Toronto for their fourth show in less than 10 months but […]