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Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

M83 and I Break Horses at The Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangIf you’re thinking, “hey – didn’t you just see M83 a few months ago? Why are you going to see them again so soon?”, then a) you spend far too much time keeping track of my concert schedule, and b) you would have a valid point. Usually I would have happily given Sunday night’s show a pass, as much as I look for any excuse to go to the Sound Academy, particularly with the band already planning a third local show in nine months when they play the Hard Festival at Fort York in August, but in their efforts to make sure that they got as much chromewaves.net coverage as possible – because that’s obviously their endgame – they played a card I couldn’t resist: I Break Horses.

The Swedish duo of Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck released my favourite album of 2011 in their debut Hearts, and there was no way I was going to miss what is almost sure to be a rare visit. But with that said, I don’t know if I necessarily expected a lot – after all, they were a studio project who only made their way to the stage for the first time late last year and their brand of introspective synth-gaze isn’t the sort of thing that translates easily to a compelling show, even for seasoned performers.

So I’m happy to report that they more than exceeded my expectations in the live setting. Expanded to a four-piece, they smartly augmented the electronics with live drums and guitar and though they still hid behind blinding backlighting and aggressive smoke machines, they were more assured than I expected, with Lidén a compelling silhouette of a frontwoman in the Victoria Legrand vein but with more fist pumps. The songs were noticeably adjusted in structure for bigger builds and crescendos – I’d love to get some live recordings of their shows – and while I selfishly hope they don’t get big enough to play rooms this size anytime soon, they established that but their sound could fill the space – their bedroom anthems worked marvelously at arena scale and while it’s true that if any crowd would be favourably inclined towards what they do it’d be M83’s, they still more than earned the roar of approval they received; the nearly-full house was clearly smitten. I don’t know if their plans include more touring over here after their duties supporting M83 are done, but from this show and reports from previous dates, they’ll have an enthusiastic fanbase waiting for them.

M83 are a band who’ve learned a thing or two about scale. The jump from a room the size of Lee’s Palace, where they were in November, to one the size of the Sound Academy is a pretty huge one but if any act should be able to handle expansion, it’s one named after a galaxy. But this is where the success of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming has taken them – completely sold-out, 3000+ capacity rooms. And has the success changed them? It’s hard to say. While this show was very simliar to the one at Lee’s – the set list was almost identical in composition and structure – the scale of it disallowed lazily drawing parallels between them; they were fundamentally the same show but the experiences were wholly different. The backdrop was done up with lights so as to resemble a starfield and the much bigger space gave the band more room to act out their rock star fantasies. Anthony Gonzalez and Jordan Lawlor danced and lurched around the stage as they were wont to do and Morgan Kibby, though anchored to her keyboards, gave it her best as well. I think back to the first M83 gig in Toronto some seven years ago and how I thought Gonzalez’s onstage persona and moves seemed oversized to the show; now I realized that he was just waiting for everyone else to catch up.

I’ve actually just erased a few lines about the shift in the band’s demographic from vintage shoegazing aficionados to a younger, synth-pop demographic and how the show’s encore came across more like the start of the afterparty than the finale of the show because, well, I said pretty much the same things last time around and while I could try to find different words to express it, it’d be the same sentiment; just bigger. This doesn’t necessarily bode well editorially-speaking for their Fort York show on August 4, but the fact that there won’t be any roof or other such trifling human concerns to try and contain them and keep them from literally reaching for the stars means my writeup will probably just be the equivalent of frantically waving my arms in the air. Just watch.

Panic Manual also has a review of the show and The Toronto Star has an interview with Gonzalez. And DIY has a trailer for their next video for “Reunion” because apparently releasing trailers for videos is now what people do.

Photos: M83, I Break Horses @ The Sound Academy – May 6, 2012
MP3: M83 – “Midnight City”
MP3: M83 – “Claudia Lewis”
MP3: M83 – “Reunion”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Load Your Eyes”
MP3: I Break Horses – “Hearts”
Video: M83 – “Midnight City”
Video: M83 – “We Own The Sky”
Video: M83 – “Graveyard Girl”
Video: M83 – “Kim And Jessie”
Video: M83 – “Teen Angst”
Video: M83 – “Don’t Save Us From The Flames”
Video: M83 – “Run Into Flowers”
Video: M83 – “America”
Video: I Break Horses – “Winter Beats”
Video: I Break Horses – “Hearts”

Because Instinct is out in the UK as of now, NME is able to stream the whole of the debut album from Niki & The Dove; North Americans can consider it a three-month sneak preview before it’s released over here on August 7.

MP3: Niki & The Dove – “The Fox”
Stream: Niki & The Dove / Instinct

NPR has a World Cafe session with First Aid Kit. They play The Music Hall on September 26.

Gigwise talks to Jonsi of Sigur Rós about their new record Valtari, out May 29. They play Echo Beach on August 1.

Múm are cleaning out their cupboards a bit, targeting a July 17 release for Early Birds – a collection of unreleased material dating back their earliest days between 1998 and 2000. Exclaim has details on the release.

If your appetite for musical things Icelandic goes beyond the usual suspects, have a listen to this downloadable compilation of current artists who are not Bjork or Sigur Rós, and if you like that there are four more. Other Icelandic acts that are worth your time are also the focus of a half-hour doc that was released late last year, so you should watch that. And oh, Sigur Rós were just announced as headlining this year’s Iceland Airwaves, so obviously you should go to that. Yes, it’s all the way in Iceland; that’s rather the point.

Stream: various artists / Made In Iceland V
Video: Iceland: Beyond Sigur Rós

The Quietus talks to Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine about the just-released reissues and potential new album.

Maxïmo Park have released the first video from their forthcoming fourth album The National Health, out June 11.

Video: Maxïmo Park – “Hips & Lips”

Chart and Guitar World talk to the brothers Jarman of The Cribs, who’ve been contributing articles to Drowned In Sound all week about this, that, and the other thing.

By : Frank Yang at 8:34 am
Category: Concert Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

RSS Feed for this post4 Responses.
  1. giselle says:

    i break horses are playing atp in new jersey at the end of september so i’m optimistic for a proper headlining tour then …

  2. Frank Yang says:

    yeah, as soon as the M83 tour is done I am hopeful they’ll announce a return tour of their own.

  3. Frank Yang says:

    though seriously, with them and Afghan Whigs playing the same fest I should really just go to NJ and be done with it.

  4. giselle says:

    that’s what i’m hoping as well … if you get your timing right, you can see them at atp and the headline show in toronto …

    also (for you) the roots and sharon van etten are playing too … book your flights!