Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
The Concretes and Hooray For Earth at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank YangAfter a much-needed break from live music with a month spent watching television instead of bands, it was back out to the clubs on Monday night for the first gig of 2011, and it was one that as recently as a couple weeks ago I hadn’t planned on attending – The Concretes at The Horseshoe. From passing listens to the singles, I didn’t expect much of their latest WYWH but a proper sit-down with their second post-Victoria Bergsman album happily proved me wrong. And so I went.
Helping that decision along was the presence of New York’s Hooray For Earth as support. I’d meant to investigate their 2010 debut EP Momo further but never did, so seeing them live in advance of their full-length debut True Loves‘ release on May 3 seemed like a good way to make up for that. Unfortunately, and perhaps as a result of a traumatic border-crossing experience alluded to by singer Noel Heroux, the band didn’t seem to be at the top of their game, seeming distracted or even disinterested as they ran through their half-hour set. The quality of their songs – catchy New Waved numbers marked by big ’80s synths and (over)-effected vocals – was evident despite that, but the pep of their recorded sound was decided muted.
I was there the last the the sandwich board outside The ‘Shoe declared, “The Concretes” back in May 2006, but a half-decade one, it was a completely different band who took the stage. Singer Victoria Bergsman departed shortly after that show – that’s been well-documented – and rather than call it a day, drummer Lisa Milberg moved into the role of frontwoman but what was surprising was that Maria Erikson – guitarist, vocalist and co-founder of the band with Milberg and Bergsman – was not amongst the half-dozen Concretes who’d crossed the Atlantic. Or maybe not so surprising considering her credits on the new record amount to “backing vocals”. But either way, this was now Milberg’s show.
And as WYWH would dictate, it was a disco show, but without much dancing. Despite the dancefloor grooves and textures of the new record, it’s still a downbeat record and accordingly, a rather restrained performance. The live renderings were actually sped up some from the album version, perhaps to give them a little more zip or perhaps to help them sit alongside the older material better. Yes, they still did the older material – fair game considering Milberg co-wrote most of it – but what was more surprising than that it wasn’t verboten was how natural those songs still sounded without Bergsman’s distinctively sleepy vocals. And if you think about it, Milberg’s voice might have a different timbre from her former bandmate but it has a similar wounded quality about it that helps maintain the songs’ spirit.
With such disparate-sounding material rubbing elbows on the set list, the flow of the show was a little odd at times but the balance of new material and key singles from The Concretes and In Colour made for a solid batch of songs. And while it was hard to not recall the glorious rotating lead vocals from Bergsman, Milberg and Erikson the last time they played main set closer “Song For The Songs”, these new Concretes had already established their 2011 bona fides. And for that, bravo.
Photos: The Concretes, Hooray For Earth @ The Horseshoe – January 17, 2010
MP3: The Concretes – “All Day”
MP3: The Concretes – “Good Evening”
MP3: Hooray For Earth – “Surrounded By Your Friends”
Video: The Concretes – “Kids”
Video: The Concretes – “All Day”
Video: The Concretes – “Keep Yours”
Video: The Concretes – “Seems Fine”
Video: The Concretes – “Oh Boy”
Video: The Concretes – “Chosen One”
Video: The Concretes – “On The Radio”
Video: The Concretes – “Say Something New”
Video: The Concretes – “You Can’t Hurry Love”
Video: The Concretes – “Warm Night”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Surrounded By Your Friends”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Form”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Rolling/Nectarine”
Video: Hooray For Earth – “Get Home”
Myspace: The Concretes
Myspace: Hooray For Earth
Video: Lykke Li – “I Follow Rivers”
Also straight outta Sweden with a new vid are Peter Bjorn & John – it’s the first sample of their forthcoming Gimme Some, due out March 29, which you can also download over here. They have a talk with Spinner about the new record.
There were a crapload of show announcements yesterday… and a crapload today. Starting with Suuns, who’ll be playing an in-store at Sonic Boom on January 29 at 4PM. As always, it’s a free show but food bank donations are encouraged.
I would have thought that they’d be playing bigger rooms by now, but that just means that Warpaint’s show at Wrongbar on March 26 – which they packed last August well before their debut The Fool came out and got all those rave reviews – will be that much more of a hot ticket. You’ve been warned. Full tour dates up at Beggars USA and support for the show will be Australia’s PVT.
After a too-long absence – I’m not counting their set opening for Gogol Bordello last Spring because a) it was at The Sound Academy and b) I couldn’t go – DeVotchKa are coming back to town. Their last headlining show was way back in June 2006, so that they’ll bring their new record 100 Lovers to the Mod Club on March 30 is welcome news indeed; tickets $19 in advance.
I don’t know if John Darnielle thought Toronto wouldn’t notice that The Mountain Goats skipped us over entirely whilst touring their last record The Life Of The World To Come, but it’s good to know we won’t be slighted when All Eternals Deck comes out on March 29 – they’ll be here just five days later, April 3, with Megafaun in tow, for a show at the Opera Hosue – tickets $17.50 in advance. Pitchfork has a chat with Darnielle about the new album and there’s a campaign to get The Mountain Goats on Law & Order: SVU so obviously you should go and get behind that.
And looking waaaaay ahead, Keren Ann will follow up the March 22 release of her new record 101 with Summer dates that include an appearance at the Drake Underground on June 28, tickets $16.50. She’s just released a video from said record.
Aquarium Drunkard, Artinfo, The Fader and Prefix talk to Dan Bejar of Destroyer, whose new record Kaputt is out next week but streaming right now at Hype Machine. Destroyer plays Lee’s Palace on March 31.
Stream: Destroyer / Kaputt
The Line Of Best Fit and The AV Club interview Jenny Conlee and Colin Meloy of The Decemberists, respectively. The Polaroid portfolio which was a part of deluxe editions of The King Is Dead is available to peruse at New York Magazine with commentary from photographer Autumn de Wilde. Further, the band’s hometown show in Portland will be webcast tonight on NPR starting at 3PM EST. The Decemberists are at The Sound Academy on February 1.