Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
Our Own Pretty Ways
First Aid Kit and Samantha Crain at The Rivoli in Toronto
Frank 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 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.
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).
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.
Islands have set a date at the Mod Club for July 14 – tickets $13.50 in advance.
MP3: Islands – “Vapours”
Miike Snow have a date at the Kool Haus on October 9, tickets $25.
Video: Miike Snow – “Black & Blue”