Thursday, March 14th, 2013
Veronica Falls and Cold Showers at The Garrison in Toronto
Frank YangSo this is the first time in nine years that I am NOT in Austin for SXSW; reasons for this are myriad, but the broad strokes can be inferred from this. So while this means rather than embarrassment of concert riches to choose from, my live music options amongst bands not deep in the heart of Texas were decidedly shallower, but still pretty great – after all, Veronica Falls were back in town.
It was at SXSW 2011 that I first made the acquaintance of the Anglo-Scottish quartet, proceeding to catch them at home and abroad, with their show at The Garrison last February the last show I caught in support of their self-titled debut, and just as well – as much as I loved the record, there was only so much mileage to be squeezed out of a single 36-minute collection.
That wasn’t an issue on Tuesday night when they returned to The Garrison with their second album Waiting For Something To Happen exactly one month old and still fresh and delightful. It strikes the perfect balance of keeping what made their debut a gem – the throwback ’80s-styled indie-pop exulting under moodily overcast skies – and improving it with catchier hooks, stronger vocals in all departments – melodies, harmonies, expressiveness – and just enough extra stylistic boundary-pushing. It was everything I would have wanted in a follow-up, and that it gave them excuse to come back to town was all the better.
Openers Cold Showers keep a pretty low online profile – it took more digging than it should have to establish they hail from Los Angeles – but putting a finger on their sound wasn’t nearly as difficult. Their dark, post-punk sound mines the territory of early Cure and Joy Division, but they manage to avoid sounding dismissively derivative. Built on a bed of muscular, mechanical drumming, prone to measured bursts of noise, and surprisingly melodic while maintaining a persistant broodiness. Not the most exciting, presentation-wise, but it sounded good.
It was funny to go back and re-read my writeup of last year’s Veronica Falls show at The Garrison because I noted the problems the band were having with their on-stage monitor mixes – funny because a year later, they still seemed to be having the same issues. But still, except for the drums sounding a bit overloud – more because of Patrick Doyle’s right foot than any sound reinforcement issues – the house mix sounded fine. Though hardly overly-polished on record, live they added an appealing extra layer of grit to the proceedings and were incrementally more energized than they were whilst supporting their debut; frontwoman Roxanne Clifford was bouncing around the stage, whipping her hair about, and even cracked smiles when not grimacing at the sound coming from their monitors. Having twice the material to draw from meant this show was nearly twice as long as their last visit, with the set list split almost evenly between the two records and for the encore, they acquiesced to a fan request for “Starry Eyes”, a b-side that pre-dated their debut. It would have been nicer to see more people on hand – I wouldn’t have put the attendance much more than who came out last year – but at least the fans were ardent.
Photos: Veronica Falls, Cold Showers @ The Garrison – March 12, 2013
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
MP3: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Teenage”
Video: Veronica Falls – “My Heart Beats”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Bad Feeling”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Come On Over”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Beachy Head”
Video: Veronica Falls – “Found Love In A Graveyard”
Video: Cold Showers – “BC”
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