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Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Charming The Flames

What was supposed to be a nice bonus show Monday night from Fields, who had just played here on Friday opening for Blonde Redhead, ended up turning into a bit of an ordeal though with a happy ending. First, for reasons unknown, the show was moved from the Amp’d Mobile Studio where it was originally scheduled to the Drake Underground where the band was shoehorned into an Elvis Mondays showcase. Then it turned out keyboardist/vocalist Thorunn Antonia had come down with food poisoning and was very iffy to be able to perform. Great.

Needless to say, the evening was running a bit behind schedule so I arrived in time to catch the act preceding Fields, and it was… interesting to say the least. Fronted by what looked like the bastard offspring of Brandon Flowers and Freddie Mercury, they were all classic rock riffs and new wave synths, studded wristbands, dubious moustache and cheese-rock poses. Initially I was aghast, but when I began to pick up snippets of lyrics – “there is Autobots on the autobahn” and “boobies – I like them very very much” – that I realized that there was the distinctive whiff of irony in the air and then Erick Von Erick & The Raving Psychos – yes, that’s right – went from being one of the worst things I’d ever seen to one of the best. It’s funny, they were all obviously quite good musicians but had opted to use their powers for cheese and hey, that’s cool. Their set was short so as not to belabour the punchline and damn if it didn’t make for some great photos.

I talked last week about my likes and dislikes about Fields’ full-length debut Everything Last Winter but while it earns a qualified seal of approval, I heartily endorse their live show with no such reservations. Thankfully joined by Antonia, the band tore through most of the high-energy numbers from both the album and their 7 From The Village EP and not to belabour the point, but the songs sounded so much more vibrant live, with the rough edges that got polished out in the studio.

One of the smart moves in the making of the record, however, was turning up Antonia’s vocals so that instead of backing Nick Peill, as was her role on the EP, she was harmonizing with him. Though she looked a bit paler than usual from being ill – and she’s plenty pale to begin with – she sounded terrific and really has remarkable pitch. On the record, you’d swear she was being auto-tuned but I’ll bet dollars and doughnuts it’s just her. And it wasn’t just her, the whole band sounded terrific and with great tightness and energy, obviously benefiting from all the recent touring.

I speculated after their first show in Toronto last October that next time through town, they’d be playing to much larger crowds. Not counting Blonde Redhead’s audience, it seems my predictions still haven’t quite come true as the Drake audience was decent, but also made up of friends/fans of the the other bands playing. I think if they’d played the Amp’d Studio as originally intended it’d have been a better measure of their fanbase in Toronto though surely a smaller one. But whether it grows (as it deserves to) or not, it’s a good bet that whenever they come through town again, I’ll be there again.

Photos: Fields, Erick Von Erick & The Raving Psychos @ The Drake Underground – May 14, 2007
MP3: Fields – “Song For The Fields” (Everything Last Winter version)
MP3: Fields – “If You Fail, We All Fail”
MP3: Fields – “Brittlesticks”
MP3: Fields – “Song For The Fields” (7 From The Village version)
Video: Fields – “If You Fail, We All Fail” (MySpace)
Video: Fields – “Brittlesticks” (MySpace)
Video: Fields – “Song For The Fields” (MySpace)
Video: Fields – “Charming The Flames” (MySpace)
MySpace: Fields
MySpace: Erick Von Erick & The Raving Psychos

Thanks to For The Records for pointing out that the NxNE 2007 schedule is now up. Only had time to give it a once-over, but a lot of names are jumping out at me. Some I can endorse whole-heartedly, others tepidly and some just sound familiar. I’ll do more research before things actually get underway but for now, here’s some random selections of what caught my eye:

Thursday, June 7

Future Clouds & Radar @ The Horseshoe – 9PM
Sea Wolf @ The Horseshoe – 10PM
Kathleen Edwards @ Lee’s Palace – 10PM
Buffalo Tom @ The Horseshoe – 12AM
Jason Falkner @ The Reverb – 12AM
Adam Franklin @ The Reverb – 1AM

Friday, June 8

The Pantones @ The Savannah – 9PM
Nicole Atkins & The Sea @ The Reverb – 10PM
Handsome Furs @ The Comfort Zone – 12AM
Jesse Malin @ The Reverb – 12AM
The Sadies @ Lee’s Palace – 12AM
Therapy? @ The El Mocambo – 12AM
Jenn Grant @ C’est What – 1AM
John Doe @ Lee’s Palace – 1AM

Saturday, June 9

Ohbijou @ The Horseshoe – 10PM
Schooner @ C’est What – 10PM
She Keeps Bees @ Holy Joe’s – 10PM
Great Northern @ Lee’s Palace – 12AM
The Silent Years @ Holy Joe’s – 12AM
Urge Overkill @ Lee’s Palace – 1AM

And that doesn’t even include the so-called “NXNeXtra” shows, which are basically all the big name touring bands in town that first week of June to which a limited number of badges and wristbands – like 50 to 100 – will be admitted. Included in that is the Voxtrot show at Sneaky Dee’s on the 8th, for which an early all-ages show has just been added. That’s a 6:30PM start and both touring openers, Favourite Sons and Au Revoir Simone, will be playing.

And NOT appearing at NxNE – Ride. Funnily, the denial made it out before the rumours did.

And some non-NxNE show news of note – Elvis Perkins has been added to the Hillside lineup on the Sunday July 29, Smoosh are opening for The Pipettes at Lee’s Palace on June 1 and latest Arts & Crafts signees Los Campesinos!, who sound pretty much exactly like how you’d expect an A&C band to sound – except Welsh – are in town August 7 at a venue to be announced.

The Hour has a video interview with Rob Dickinson.

Pitchfork announces that Trembling Blue Stars, who I thought had disbanded but I guess they just gave up touring, will release a new album – The Last Holy Writer – on June 4, their first in three years. I should dig out my copies of Broken By Whispers and Alive To Every Smile to see if I still dig them. I do know that the one single from the latter record, “The Ghost Of An Unkissed Kiss”, was and still is sublime. Heard it? No? You should.

MP3: Trembling Blue Stars – “The Ghost Of An Unkissed Kiss”

Spinner 3×3 takes on Bloc Party.

NME talks to Patrick Wolf about touring with Amy Winehouse.