Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
In Your Eyes
Kate Boy and Gold & Youth at Wrongbar in Toronto
Frank YangIt might seem like an act of massive hubris for a brand-new band from abroad to book a North American tour with no official release, not even a handful of released songs, and barely a month’s worth of experience performing live, but Sweden’s Kate Boy did just that in rolling into Wrongbar on Sunday night for the third of six dates on this continent. But when each of those three singles and videos have been met with immensely positive response and the right outlets are paying attention, maybe it’s less an act of starry-eyed optimism than a canny first move in a well-orchestrated, long-term marketing strategy.
Though I was intrigued by the aforementioned singles – particular with them on repeat whilst writing this – it took the announcement of Vancouver’s Gold & Youth as support to cement my attendance. Though they were hardly going to be strangers to Toronto stages over this week, opening up the Arts & Crafts Field Trip fest on Saturday and also playing NXNE, the odds of my catching any of those shows was going to slim. And I wanted to see them – their just-released debut Beyond Wilderness being a solid if not life-altering document of ’80s-ish synth-pop that I suspected would come across stronger live than on record. And indeed, it did. Utilizing a conventional band lineup augmented by synths and samples, rather than the other way around, their live show was more energetic and brought their musicianship to the fore, if also laying bare their Cure, New Order, and Depeche Mode influences. Danceable without being dance music, the affirmed themselves as a band with a great if familiar sound, and good to very good songs that should just get better.
Just as it wouldn’t have surprised me if Wrongbar had been empty for Kate Boy’s Canadian debut, it also didn’t surprise me that there was a very respectable-sized crowd by the time the foursome took the stage, uniform of black t-shirts and baseball caps intact. I was surprised, though, that much of the audience seemed not to be the curious out to be convinced, but genuine fans wanting to have their belief confirmed – looks like three songs can really go a long way. Thankfully, the band had more than that in their repertoire, and their 40-minute set was tightly choreographed and impressively crafted – what was that about having only played their first-ever gig in May? The three singles were spaced out so as to be able to keep the momentum up, and basically performed live as extended remixes to effectively balance familiarity and freshness. The rest of the material adhered to the same formula of big heavy beats and even bigger choruses, so if you liked one you were pretty much going to like them all.
While her bandmates kept their Scandinavian cool whilst manning their synths, drums, and bass with laser focus, frontwoman Kate Akhurst was all smiles and arm-waving dance moves, clearly less concerned with maintaining their icy aesthetic than having and giving a good time. And it’s a pretty safe bet that for everyone in attendance, a good time was had. There’s probably not ever going to be a narrative around Kate Boy that casts them as the scrappy, DIY upstarts. There’s something very calculated about their career trajectory so far, and even though they’re currently signed to Los Angeles indie IAMSOUND for their singles, five will get you six that like label alumnus Florence & The Machine, Charli XCX, and Little Boots, their debut will be on a major. Not that that matters, really – all that does is they’ve got the look, they’ve got the sound, and they’ve got the show. Everything is going according to plan.
Exclaim also has a review of the show while Idolator and Chicago Now have posted interviews with the band. MSN gets to know Louise Burns as both a member of Gold & Youth and solo artist, whose second album The Midnight Mass comes out July 9.
Photos: Kate Boy, Gold & Youth @ Wrongbar – June 9, 2013
MP3: Kate Boy – “Northern Lights”
Video: Kate Boy – “The Way We Are”
Video: Kate Boy – “In Your Eyes”
Video: Kate Boy – “Northern Lights”
Video: Gold & Youth – “Jewel”
Video: Gold & Youth – “Time To Kill”
Exclaim has an advance stream of Beady Eye album BE, though since the album is now out as of this week – in the UK, at least – it’s not so advance. The Independent has an interview with Liam Gallagher where he sounds off on this and that.
Stream: Beady Eye / BE
Sigur Rós have turned to their live show projections for the video to the title track and to CBC Music to host an advance stream of their new album Kveikur, coming June 18. The stream is probably geoblocked to Canada, but rest of the world can be sure that their territories will be attended to shortly. Update: Try Amazon.
Rolling Stone and Refinery 29 have feature pieces on Empire Of The Sun and their new album Ice On The Dune, out June 18 and available to stream now at Rolling Stone. Yahoo, meanwhile, gets a look behind the scenes at the band’s visual presentation.
Stream: Primal Scream / More Light
Stream: Editors – “The Sting”
Video: The xx – “Fiction”
The Joy Formidable have released a live video of them performing an acoustic cover of Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon”.