Monday, November 8th, 2010
To The Grain
Junip and Sharon Van Etten at Lee’s Palace in Toronto
Frank YangWith a wealth of options on the Toronto social calendar last Friday night, I rather feared that posting up Lee’s Palace might draw the short end of the stick. I didn’t know how much draw Junip would have, but I needn’t have worried. With their main attraction – frontman José Gonzalez – having not released a new record under his own name in some three years, there was apparently a good amount of pent-up appetite to see and hear him in any configuration.
Happily, this resulted in a good-sized crowd already in place for opener Sharon Van Etten, whom I will freely admit was the main draw for me just as she was when I saw her open for Megafaun at The Horseshoe back in April. Unlike that show, however, this time Van Etten was operating in a three-piece band format rather than solo, a change necessary to recreate the broader sonic palette of her gorgeous second album Epic. And though the full band format sounded glorious when Megafaun backed her for one song at the Horseshoe show, that she was only a few shows into the tour with these players was evident at times – mainly in the bassist and drummer playing too loudly and at the expense of the delicacy and nuance that’s essential to Van Etten’s songs. It’s a sensitivity that will no doubt come with time, but on this night at least the comfort level wasn’t where one would have liked. That said, the beauty of the songs still came through, particularly on the harmonium-led “Love More”, and by choosing to close her set solo and with a couple of audience requests from Because I Was In Love, her set ended on a beautiful note.
I don’t think it’s untoward to use Jose Gonzalez’s solo output as a reference point for Junip; the differences lie not in him or his songwriting but in what he surrounds himself with. Solo, it’s just that – Gonzalez, classical guitar, space and silence. With Junip and their debut Fields, those elements remain the centre but the addition of drums and keys, courtesy of Elias Araya and Tobias Winterkorn respectively, do allow the band to be its own distinctive thing. Live, the sound was expanded even further with the addition of a percussionist and bassist and if you were to compare Junip to an acoustic Zero 7, the English electronic outfit that introduced Gonzalez to much of his fanbase, you wouldn’t be wrong. Their set lasted only an hour but it felt much longer – in a good way – as they held the audience with their rhythmic, droning take on folk music. Understated but hypnotic, it sounded like Gonzalez being remixed live, his distinctive meditative vocals being utilized like another instrument in the mix. While I expect that many/most came to the show as José Gonzalez fans, they left as Junip fans. And hopefully Sharon Van Etten fans.
Photos: Junip, Sharon Van Etten @ Lee’s Palace – November 5, 2010
MP3: Junip – “Rope & Summit
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Love More”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Don’t Do It”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “I Couldn’t Save You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MP3: Sharon Van Etten – “Consolation Prize”
Video: Junip – “Always”
Video: Junip – “Black Refuge”
Video: Sharon Van Etten – “For You”
MySpace: Sharon Van Etten
Husband-and-wife retro pop duo Tennis have made a date at the Drake Underground for December 8 to build up anticipation for their debut Cape Dory, due out on January 18. Check out their Daytrotter session from earlier this Fall.
Phantogram return to town for their fourth and probably final Toronto show of the year, stopping in at Wrongbar on December 11 – tickets $15.50 in advance.
The Music Tapes are putting together a North American “Lullabies and Bedsides” tour that is eschewing conventional venues in favour of house shows and sleepover parties – check out Merge for details on how it’ll work, but the itinerary calls for a Toronto date on January 2 of the new year.
Call it some coincidence, call it prescience, but barely a day after posting about goings-on in The Radio Dept. camp, the full dates for their 2011 North American tour were revealed. There will be much rejoicing when the reclusive Swedes make their Toronto debut at Lee’s Palace on February 7, 2011. Update: Pitchfork has the tracklisting of the Passive Aggressive: Singles 2002-2010 compilation coming out early next year.
Jonsi will release a live document of his 2010 solo tours on November 29; Go Live will include a CD and DVD and be available exclusively through his website. He talks to the Detroit News about creating his live show.
Trailer: Jonsi / Go Live
Pulp are back. London or Barcelona. London or Barcelona. This must happen. Dates for both Wireless and Primavera are convenient as far as timing and holidays go, both are bloody expensive to get to, never mind accommodations, and either one might snooker my Japan plans for Autumn 2011… but, um, PULP. WWJCD?