Monday, August 15th, 2011
In Your Light
Bruce Peninsula and Jennifer Castle at Summerworks in Toronto
Frank YangBruce Peninsula’s Fire Sale comeback campaign, announced back in April, served many purposes. Besides helping to build anticipation for the band’s long-awaited second album Open Flames, out October 4, it re-established in no uncertain terms why they were one of Toronto’s most unique and promising bands before they were sidelined by medical drama in the late part of last year, but also served to introduce a considerably different lineup from the one that recorded their debut A Mountain Is A Mouth. Through its run, the Fire Sale took a scenic route through the songbooks belonging to themselves and others and much of the journey was documented on video, both in the studio and the street, and last Thursday night the trip brought them to the Lower Ossington Theatre as part of the Summerworks Music Series.
Leading off the night was Jennifer Castle, who used to perform as Castlemusic but opted to switch to her own name and apply that name to her latest record, Castlemusic. And it’s a name that’s had the fortune to be associated with some high-profile acts, with Castle having provided backing vocals to records from Fucked Up and when I saw her open for Constantines, for whom I saw her open back in May 2008. But anyone who based expectations of what she’d sound like based on her friends would have been way off base – rather than fist-pumping rock, Castle’s repertoire consisted of a spare folk-blues sound built on her somewhat stream of consciousness songs, delicately warbled vocals and a simple guitar style for which the found sounds of her Harmony hollowbody being handled – neck bends, string resonances and whatnot – were as essential as anything she played deliberately.
I’d seen Bruce Peninsula live a whole whack of times from their earliest days back in 2007 and around their debut’s release in early 2009, but it had been over two and a half years since we last crossed paths. So for that reason as well as myriad others, it was good to see the band again – numbering nine with some new faces in the mix – and frontman Neil Haverty front and centre looking hale and healthy for this, their second show following an extended break (the first was in June for NXNE).
Calling Haverty the frontman might not be quite correct, though, at least not anymore. Whereas on the Mountain material his gruff vocals still led the band, it was pretty evident from the new material and overall stage dynamic that the landscape of the Peninsula had changed somewhat. Not just in Mischa Bower taking more vocal leads, but the musical arrangements were more intricate and considered – even on the older material – and though it’s presumptuous to suggest that these changes come down to one new individual in a band this size, I was hearing a lot of Daniela Gesundheit’s work in Snowblink coming through. This wasn’t to say that the rough, elemental energy that so defined the band early on was completely tamed – Haverty still contributed some crowd-rushing and mic stand-abusing antics to the show – but they’re a much more refined-sounding collective now and I think they’re all the better for it.
NOW also has a writeup of the show. Their next hometown show comes October 27 at Lee’s Palace.
Photos: Bruce Peninsula, Jennifer Castle @ The Lower Ossington Theatre – August 11, 2011
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Light Flight”
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “The Swimming Song”
MP3: Bruce Peninsula – “Crabapples”
MP3: Jennifer Castle – “Powers”
MP3: Jennifer Castle – “Neverride”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “Salesman”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “Leaves”
Video: Bruce Peninsula – “The Swimming Song”
BlogTO talks to one of the new Bruce Peninsulans, Tamara Lindeman, who will release Everything Was Mine, her second solo as The Weather Station, on August 16. She has a show at 720 Bathurst on the 19th and plays a Soundscapes in-store on August 30.
Rolling Stone has premiered the video for the PS I Love You starring Diamond Rings single “Leftovers”. PS I Love You play The Great Hall on October 1 while Diamond Rings is at The Mod Club on October 3.