Monday, June 4th, 2012
No Cure For Loneliness
Bry Webb and Del Bel at 918 Bathurst in Toronto
Frank YangI’m sure that the timing was just coincidence, but if Friday night’s Wavelength show at the Buddhist temple at 918 Bathurst featuring Bry Webb and Del Bel was meant as a last-minute bit of lobbying for my Polaris Prize ballot – long-list voting had opened that day – then I salute them. Well played. Though I’ve had a year to mull it over, there was very little actually locked down on my list of the top five Canadian “albums of the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history”, and both Webb’s Provider and Del Bel’s Oneric were very much in the running.
I’d seen Del Bel at another Wavelength in January and Webb’s record release show in February, and while the live show is not supposed to have any bearing on the nomination process, this wasn’t going to hurt with keeping them front of mind. But this show was intended to mark Del Bel’s return from a couple weeks of Canadian touring and celebrate the release of their new single – a collaboration with Webb – and not to squeeze their way onto any Polaris ballots at the 11th hour. I think.
Del Bel’s set was structurally quite similar to the one in January – Webb’s guesting on the new single “No Cure For Loneliness” was obviously different – but better from the band’s point of view for having been road-tested the past weeks and better from mine for having had many more months to spend with Oneric. Some combination of the two points – probably more the latter – made it much easier to extract and appreciate the songs from their atmospheric cinematic-noir style, and as far as the performance went, the shifts in mood felt more natural and dextrous than before and while singer Lisa Conway still preferred to stand behind her bandmates while she sang, she had less of a wallflower air about her this time out, coming across more mysterious than just shy. Touring: it does a band good.
I don’t think Bry Webb has taken his band out on the road for any extended jaunts since Provider came out, but with over a decade of fronting Constantines before they went on hiatus to his name, he hardly needs the practice of getting in front of an audience. If there was an immediate difference between this night’s show and the one at the Music Gallery in the Winter, it was that Webb had found his guitar strap and was playing standing up although it still wouldn’t mean forays into the audience – electrical noise on stage kept him fairly rooted to one spot to avoid interference. It also featured a few new songs to augment the Provider material but the enlistment of Del Bel’s horns and drummer for a good portion of the set really gave things an extra kick to augment the more solemn, low-key tone of the material. And while Webb’s solo material exists a good distance from what the Constantines were about, there was a taste of the old band’s fire when Webb stepped up for a righteous lead break on “Low Life” which he dedicated to former bandmate Will Kidman. On the other hand, it was impossible to imagine the Cons covering Seals & Croft’s “Summer Breeze” as Webb and seven-ninths of Del Bel (two of whom, it should be noted, are also full-time Providers) did to end their main set.
There’s little question that Oneric and Provider are two of the finest releases to come out of Toronto/southern Ontario in the past year; this evening was strong proof of that. But would that be enough to get them on the Polaris long-list, short-lists, or my ballot for either? To the first two, I’ve no idea and to the last, well we’ll just have to wait and see.
The June 12 release date of Synthetica not far off, Metric is ramping up the media cycle with a complete stream of the new record, a cover story in this month’s Exclaim, and a fans-only show on the day of release at The Opera House; details on how to win tickets will be available by hanging out on the band’s various social media sites.
Stream: Metric / Synthetica
Willamette Weekly and San Francisco Bay Guardian chat briefly with Dan Bejar of Destroyer, whose previously Record Store Day-only vinyl edition of Destroyer’s Rubies is now available for anyone/everyone to own and spin.
And speaking of shows at Fort York, I’ve made some jokes about how Toronto seems to be commemorating the bicentennial of the War Of 1812 with nothing but raves, but there’s now something a little more musically patriotic and family-friendly happening to mark the anniversary. On July 14, The Garrison Commons at Fort York will host a free show featuring performances from Sarah Harmer, Shad, The Rural Alberta Advantage, and Alex Cuba. Specifics are still forthcoming so keeping up with the Facebook page probably isn’t a bad idea.
Leonard Cohen has added a second Toronto show at the Air Canada Centre for December 5, to go along with the December 4 one that is just about sold out now. Tickets range from $72.50 to $250 plus fees. And while you mull that over, check out Clash‘s liste of ten things you didn’t know about Lenny.
Their show at The Music Hall sold out and in the books, Patrick Watson has announced another Toronto date for December 6 at Massey Hall with The Barr Brothers supporting; tickets are $24.50 to $35.00 plus fees, on sale now. NPR also has a Tiny Desk Concert, PostCity and interview, and a second MP3 from Adventures In Your Own Backyard has been made available to download.
BlogTO has the full lineup of this year’s Open Roof Festival, which pairs bands and movies for a night under the stars at the Amsterdam Brewery all Summer. You’ve got bands like Army Girls, Bruce Peninsula, and The Magic and films like Moonrise Kingdom, Charles Bradley: Soul of America, and Indie Game: The Movie – a bad time can’t be had (okay it can but it shouldn’t). Tickets for each night are $15.
Young Galaxy are releasing a new 7″ single tomorrow and the B-side is available to download courtesy of Stereogum. And if you liked what they accomplished on Shapeshifter working with producer Dan Lissvik electronically across the ocean, imagine what they could do working directly with him in the studio. If you’d like the see that happen, the band would like you to help out.