Monday, November 25th, 2013
Keep In The Dark
Temples, Invasions, and The Auras at The Horseshoe in Toronto
Frank YangAsk around and some may tell you there’s a bit of a psych-rock renaissance happening in the UK right now, pointing to the emergence of London’s Toy, Leeds’ Hookworms, and Kettering’s Temples as examples of new bands embracing the grand tradition of droning, swirling, and tripping out. And while they’ve yet to stage any sort of full-bore, acid-drenched incursion onto North American shores, Wednesday night’s visit from Temples made a good case that we’re ripe for the picking.
And if they needed sympathizers amongst the local populace, the openers on this evening would be a good place to start. I’d seen local sextet The Auras back in April and as youngsters are wont to do, they’ve improved immeasurably in that time. If they were looking to shake the very obvious Black Angels reference point, they’ve failed; but if they were aiming to sound more cohesive in aspiring to it, more a tribute band than mixtape, they’ve done well. The songs were tighter, the swapping between lead vocalists and just managing their members and the sounds they make more seamless, and the performance just that much better. They recorded and released a new EP earlier this year; stream it below.
It wasn’t hard to guess where Toronto’s Invasions got their name; they probably dispensed with the “British” because it would have been a little too on-the-nose although they serve their fish & chips with a distinctively t(w)angy American southwest flavour. The five-piece, who just released their self-titled debut, offered compact, punchy tunes with good hooks and swagger given an extra dose of distinctiveness by a saxophone who was sitting in for their usual trumpet. And though the excursions weren’t their raison d’être, there were enough forays into trippiness that those looking to tune in and drop out for the entirety of the evening weren’t jarred.
I always consider it a risky move for bands from abroad to undertake a North American tours before they’ve even released a record – not an inexpensive move even for established bands, let alone one trying to convert that unquantifiable thing they call “buzz” into actual asses in seats (or feet on linoleum, in club cases). So with just three singles out in the past year and a full-length debut in Sun Structures just announced as coming out on February 11, Temples’ debut Canadian show was far from a sure success but you wouldn’t have known that if you were there.
Even adjusted for the fact that British bands do disproportionately well in Toronto, the club was impressively full with those looking to preview one of the sounds of 2014 and Temples showed up dressed to impress, all fringes, ‘fros, velvet jackets, and glitter, and one pendent just a few millimeters diameter short of a medallion. Based on all this you’d be right to expect a ’60s-vintage hippie-psych soundtrack and Temples do indeed root themselves in the retro, but also allow themselves the gift of ’70s prognostication and imbue their sound with glammy stomps and hard rock riffs. Their set was short at eight songs drawn out over a respectable 45 minutes, and while the already-released material got the biggest cheers, the new songs that previewed their album were the most impressive and exciting because they implied there was more to the band than their fans might be expecting.
Photos: Temples, Invasions, The Auras @ The Horseshoe – November 20, 2013
MP3: Invasions – “Ballad Of The Faithful”
Video: Temples – “Keep In The Dark”
Video: Temples – “Colours To Life”
Video: Temples – “Shelter Song”
Video: Invasions – “Black Fuzz”
Video: Invasions – “Black Fuzz”
Stream: Ivasions / Invasions
Stream: The Auras / EP2
Stream: The Auras / EP
NPR has a World Cafe session with London Grammar while over at The London Evening Standard, frontwoman Hannah Reid comments on sexism in the music industry. The band will return to Toronto for a show at The Phoenix on April 7.