Friday, January 13th, 2012
Caveman, Hospitality, and Volcano Playground at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank YangIt’s quite possible that people headed out to the Horseshoe on Wednesday night because both halves of the touring bill consisted of New York-based bands with a good head of steam and impressive record label behind them – Caveman, having just signed to Fat Possum and Hospitality preparing to release their debut record very shortly on Merge. Either or both could reasonably emerge as one of the year’s rookie success stories, and who wouldn’t want the bragging rights to say they saw them early on at a little club show? Or it could have been that this was one of the first tours of the young year and folks wanted to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to take in a little live music. In any case, there were a surprising number of folks were out to see a couple of mostly-unknown acts.
Locals Volcano Playground opened things up and some may recall that I’ve felt the space-rock outfit had potential based on a couple live shows. I was pleased to see that their rate of growth as a band between those two shows had continued on – though it had apparently cost them a guitarist at some point along the line – and the style-hopping that marked my earlier impressions had settled into a rhythmically strong and ominously atmospheric aesthetic. Unfortunately, refining their strengths put their weaknesses into starker contrast and their distracted, mumbled vocals and general lack of any kind of stage presence felt more frustrating than they’d been in the past – especially when they prove they can do better, evidenced by the set highlight wherein guitarist/bassist Jackie Game managed to channel Rachel Goswell in a decidedly Souvlaki-esque number. A full-length debut is due out this Spring; fingers are still crossed that it’s a good one.
I went on a bit about Hospitality back in December and as one of the perks of doing what I do, have been enjoying the sprightly, ’80s-echoing but freshly-brewed guitar pop of their self-titled debut for a while even though it’s not out until January 31; had they not been playing, I’d have probably stayed home and slept. What with Amber Papini’s sweetly quirky vocals being such a key facet of their sound, it was a little dismaying that they were buried for the first bit of their set but on the bright side, it did allow one to appreciate the intricacies of their musical arrangements and the twisty guitar interplay between Papini and Nathan Michel as well as bassist Brian Betancourt’s Clean t-shirt – talk about wearing one’s influences. In any case, the mix was sorted out within a few songs, Papini’s voice was again front and centre and balance was restored to the universe and the rest of their spirited set.
My first impressions of Caveman in a live setting was that the complaints I’d had about their debut Coco Beware had been alleviated thanks to the judicious application of volume – it’s hard to fault something for being overly floaty when it’s pounding your eardrums. But while their combination of heavy percussion and echo-driven blooms of guitar were impressive at first, it quickly became formulaic and didn’t do as good a job of distracting from the largely mid-tempo monotony of their material and overall shallowness of their sonic stylings. As with on the record, a few of the songs managed to stand out from their peers, but many of the subtle touches were overpowered by the loud and all told it wasn’t enough to keep me interested. It should be noted that my opinion seemed to be in the minority – the band clearly already had a fanbase hereabouts – but by the time their hour-long set was done, I was mostly just patting myself on the back for having enough self-restraint to not jump onstage and turn off the guitarist’s delay pedal, if only for a moment.
BlogTO was also on hand and has some thoughts.
Photos: Caveman, Hospitality, Volcano Playground @ The Horseshoe – January 11, 2012
MP3: Caveman – “Thankful”
MP3: Caveman – “Easy Water”
MP3: Caveman – “Old Friend”
MP3: Caveman – “Decide”
MP3: Caveman – “My Room”
MP3: Hospitality – “Betty Wang”
MP3: Hospitality – “Friends Of Friends”
MP3: Volcano Playground – “Waiting”
MP3: Volcano Playground – “Anywhere”
Video: Caveman – “Easy Water”
It’s in support of Adam Cohen, sure, but it’s worth noting that Rachael Yamagata will be in town on February 11 for a show at the Mod Club. Her new record Chesapeake came out last Fall and Spinner had an interview in December.
Sleigh Bells may have pushed back the release of Reign Of Terror a week to February 21, but they’re still going ahead with the tour in support of it, and that now includes a February 18 date at The Phoenix, tickets $25 in advance.
Stream: Craig Finn – “New Friend Jesus”
Exclaim reports that The Kills will release a new EP led with Blood Pressures track “Last Goodbye” – for which they’ve just released a video – and b-sided with a trio of covers. The EP is out February 14 and the band is at The Kool Haus on February 7.
Video: The Kills – “Last Goodbye”
LCD Soundsystem hasn’t been in the past tense for very long now, but long enough for there to be a documentary film on the band that will be premiering at Sundance in a couple weeks. It’s called Shut Up And Play The Hits and there’s a trailer.
Trailer: Shut Up And Play The Hits