Monday, April 11th, 2011
PS I Love You and Matters at The Garrison in Toronto
Frank YangKingston duo PS I Love You has done a pretty good job for themselves of building a buzz around both themselves and their debut album Meet Me At The Muster Station, with their guitar orgiastic-sound resonating strongly with those who lived through and miss the days when guitar orgies were regular occurrences. But they’ve also gotten help with the company they keep, in particular one John O’Reagan, aka Diamond Rings, whose debut single was a split 7″ with PS I Love You and with whom they were tourmates for no small portion of the Rings ascension, including much of this Spring on the way down to SXSW and back.
A few nights ago the billing order switched, however, with PS I Love You taking on headlining duties while Diamond Rings packed away the glitter and costumes and busted out his old band – which was also his new band – to support. The existence of Matters, risen from the ashes of The D’Urbervilles, was only announced a week earlier but the new outfit probably already garnered more and higher profile attention outside of the Toronto area than The D’Urbs ever did in their tenure, with Matters being framed as Diamond Rings’ rock band rather than Diamond Rings as the electro-glam offshoot of The D’Urbs.
In any case, it added an extra degree of narrative to their show at The Garrison on Thursday night, it being Matters’ second official show following their debut in Ottawa the night before. Though my own history with The D’Urbervilles is a long one, dating back almost half a decade, a good portion of the sizable audience were clearly unfamiliar with Matters’ former incarnation and were there to see one of the city’s big musical success stories of the past couple years in a completely different context. And as it would turn out, even those of us familiar with O’Reagan in rock mode were treated to something decidedly new. The D’Urbervilles were always a good to very good post-punk/new wave kind of band, solid live and their 2008 debut We Are The Hunters certainly bursting with potential if not completely delivering on it. And while the name change certainly seemed to be cosmetic – the personnel remained the same and many unreleased songs carried over – there was no denying that Matters came with a new lease on life and manifesto that consisted of kicking some serious ass. Fronted by an O’Reagan that hadn’t been seen in these parts in some time; sporting t-shirt, jeans and ball cap and not a bit of make-up, he led his bandmates through a punishing set of rock that seemed to decide that the “post-” part of their previous incarnation’s “post-punk” descriptors were no longer necessary and released the tension that the D’Urbs specialized in in big, loud and sloppy – as in not caring who got hit, not in lack of tightness – measures. In line with that transformation was O’Reagan as a frontman; though his towering, somewhat gangly presence always made him the focal point of D’Urbs shows, the charisma and magnetism honed through the Diamond Rings experience was just as present without the costuming. Their debut album is in the can and should be out this year; it’ll be a non-issue that Matters isn’t especially Google-able – you won’t have to search to hear about them.
Not to suggest there was any sort of competitiveness between Matters and PS I Love You, but the headliners had some work to do if they were going to be what people were talking about the next morning. I had seen and enjoyed them back in September, they weren’t exactly the sorts of performers who’d leave jaws on the floor with their showmanship. Frontman Paul Saulnier occupies himself with singing/yelping, Telecaster shredding and Moog bass pedal stomping which drummer Benjamin Nelson lays down a deceptively complex backbeat – neither is much for on-stage shenanigans but verily, do they make a massively loud sound. But just that can still get you a long way and the show, which ran through most or even all of their album, was far more engaging than you might well have expected it to be. It also affirmed that I’m much more a fan of Saulnier’s vocals live, when they’re buried unders many decibels of guitars, as opposed to on record where they’re audible – but even that I’m coming around on, finding Muster Station more listenable now than when it first came out last Fall.
Any question of which act would end up stealing the show was put to rest with PS’ encore, however, as O’Reagan came out to join them for “Leftovers”, the single released back in February which featured guest vocals from Diamond Ring. But in keeping with the apparent theme of the evening, it was played with the rock turned up to 100 and though the ensuing din basically left O’Reagan inaudible, his dance moves and drumstick ninjutsu was basically a physical manifestation of the aural energy. Who, of Matters and PS I Love You, turned in the best performance of the evening? Both of them.
Photos: PS I Love You, Matters @ The Garrison – April 7, 2011
MP3: PS I Love You (with Diamond Rings) – “Leftovers”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Get Over”
MP3: PS I Love You – “2012”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Butterflies & Boners”
MP3: PS I Love You – “Facelove”
Video: PS I Love You – “Get Over”
Video: PS I Love You – “Butterflies & Boners”
Video: PS I Love You – “Facelove”
Video: Matters – “Get In Or Get Out”
Sloan are offering video interview/annotations of all the songs on their forthcoming record The Double Cross, rolling out one every few days leading up the record’s May 10 release. I daresay this is their best record in some time – check the previews out on their YouTube channel.
Exclaim has details on the next release in Neil Young’s Archives series; A Treasure is a live document dating back to the country-styled Old Ways-era period of his tumultuous ’80s output and features recordings from various shows backed by the International Harvesters. It will be out on vinyl May 24 and on CD June 14.
Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips talks to Billboard and Spinner about the joys of having the creative freedom to do whatever the hell they want, which they’re taking full advantage of this year. Aside from the wacky-ass releases, they’re working on a Yoshimi musical stage production. Of course they are.
This interview from last month with Guided By Voices’ Bob Pollard at The Buddha Den certainly seems to hint that GBV will be coming back to Toronto for the first time in pretty much forever in June, but that NXNE rumour was pretty thoroughly debunked by one who’d know so… yeah. But at least there’s a five-part interview to pass the time and if you really need a GBV fix, they’re at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival that same weekend playing McCarren Park (which is another reason why I thought they might be making the trip up here).
Pixies meet the press in advance of their Canadian Doolittle tour; Joey Santiago talks to JAM, Metro and The Chronicle Herald score some time with Dave Lovering and The Chronicle Herald also gets Kim Deal on the phone. They’ve got two nights at Massey Hall next week, April 18 and 19.