Friday, March 2nd, 2012
The Twilight Sad and Odonis Odonis at Lee’s Palace in Toronto
Frank YangAs I understand it, conventional wisdom is that Leap Day should be taken as an opportunity to try something new. But seeing as how prior to this year I’ve never thought of February 29 as anything more than an extra day of Winter every four years, I don’t feel bad that I spent it seeing a band I’ve seen many times before – Scotland’s The Twilight Sad, in town in support of their third album No One Can Ever Know.
“Trying something new” points should still be award for showing up early for opening act Odonis Odonis, who despite hailing from Toronto I’d not heard before the took the stage. A little research revealed that they were in fact labelmates with The Twilight Sad, being signed to the UK’s esteemed Fat Cat imprint for their debut album Hollandaze; this would normally be a good indicator of quality, but I recall another Toronto outfit signed to Fat Cat – Ten Kens – whom I was totally unimpressed with. And as it turns out, Odonis Odonis is the project of a former Ten Kens member. So. It’s probably just as well that I didn’t know that beforehand because I likely wouldn’t have given them a shot, and as it turned out, I liked them better. Relatively, at least. The trio either took a garage/surf-rock thing and buried it under noise layers or art-rock or took a noisy, art-rock thing and gave it a garagey/surfy friendly vibe – the coin flipped a few times over the course of their set. It was pretty loud and heavy, either way, and by the time it was over, I think the scorecard tipped in favour of tuneful over discordant, but just barely.
As noted in my review, No One Can Ever Know certainly found The Twilight Sad trying something new – synth-rock. An unexpected move given their signature sound to this point had been James Graham’s inconsolable bellow over Andy Macfarlane’s massive guitars, but one that works surprisingly well. So while I had a pretty good idea of what to expect of the band live by this point, I was curious to see how this new dimension would be incorporated into the show.
Taking the stage to a slow, pulsing synth tone that could well have been a fire alarm, they opened with No One‘s “Kill It In The Morning” – about half the set was comprised of new material, the rest split evenly between Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters and Forget The Night Ahead – and made it clear that though they had the same five-piece lineup that opened for Mono last time through, Martin Doherty’s keyboard responsibilities – while certainly more important this time out – were not going to supplant Macfarlane’s six-string duties anytime soon. The synthetic sheen of the new material was given a proper steel wool scrub courtesy of Macfarlane’s Fender Jaguar and Marshall stack and made loud, fuzzy and loud. Did I mention loud?
The combination of their old sound and new was quite a potent one, the resultant chaotic squall with a mechanical pulse coming across as more urgent and menacing than ever before and proving the new direction did not come at the expense of old strengths. At some points, the mix fell out of balance and Graham’s vocals – no wallflower of an instrument – were buried under the tumult but it always managed to right itself before becoming an issue. It was also interesting to see how far Graham has come as a frontman, his lurch-dance moves providing a welcome bit of onstage activity relative to his bandmates.
The show moved with a steady but unrelenting momentum for just over an hour, Graham taking the time to sincerely thank everyone for coming out to see them and promising a return visit soon before finishing with a scorched-earth double-shot of “And She Would Darken The Memory” from Fourteen Autumns and “At The Burnside” from Forget The Night Ahead. There was no encore, but there didn’t need to be; that was the proper finish.
Exclaim also has a review of the show.
Photos: The Twilight Sad, Odonis Odonis @ Lee’s Palace – February 29, 2012
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Another Bed”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Kill It In The Morning”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Reflection Of The Television”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Cold Days From The Birdhouse”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy”
MP3: Odonis Odonis – “Ledged Up”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “Another Bed”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “Sick”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “The Room”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “Seven Years Of Letters”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “I Became A Prostitute”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “And She Would Darken The Memory”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Ledged Up”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Blood Feast”
Video: Odonis Odonis – “Mr. Smith”
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Video: Nick Lowe – “Sensitive Man”
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Video: Arctic Monkeys – “R U Mine?”
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Stream: Belle & Sebastian – “Crash”
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Video: Allo Darlin’ – “Capricornia”
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