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Monday, October 31st, 2011

You're A Woman, I'm A Machine

Death From Above 1979 at Sound Academy in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangFirstly, thanks to The Grid for their preview piece on the Death From Above 1979 reunion tour which finally made it home for two nights at the Sound Academy last Thursday and Friday night. They do a far better job of encapsulating the band’s backstory than I could, since though I was certainly around for their first heyday in the early aughts, I wasn’t much of a fan. Some of their disco-metal hybrid was appealing and I dug Jesse Keeler’s bass tones, but it was generally too aggressive for my tastes and Sebastien Grainger’s vocals were definitely not my thing. When they announced they were splitting up five years ago, I didn’t give it half a shrug.

So why be at the Sound Academy to see the reunion? Mostly curiosity about this reunion which, even in the era of reunions, felt different to all the others. For starters, the response to it seemed disproportionate to how big they were when they broke it off, but as The Grid points out they were on the cusp of blowing up when they split and rather than see interest in them fall off a cliff as a result, evidently it kept growing into the realm of myth. Hence the high billing on festivals worldwide. Hence the playing to more people at home over two nights than they probably did in total over their first run. So curiosity, and also the fact that I happened to be outside the Beauty Bar in Austin, Texas back in March when they were soundchecking their surprise SXSW appearance – their very first comeback show and eventual near-riot – and it sounded great.

I’ve been to my share of reunion shows and most have had the sort of demographic you’d expect; mainly older fans from said act’s first go-around indulging in a bit of nostalgia with the mean age brought down a notch by kids who discovered the act in their fallow years and finally getting a chance to see them live (I tend to straddle the two). For DFA1979, however, the audience was overwhelmingly young – so much so that you got the sense if they hadn’t booked an all-ages venue, they wouldn’t have needed two shows. My theory is that those who’d followed the band in the first half of the decade had largely outgrown them, no longer running on the necessary blend of hormones and adrenaline, and instead these shows were being attended by those who’d been in high school or college when DFA were at their peak – see above about hormones and adrenaline – but had never gotten the chance to see them live. Until now.

And with youth comes energy and the jammed room was rather crackling with it as they awaited their hometown heroes to emerge, getting into form with a little exploratory crowd surfing to Iron Maiden over the PA and chanting, “D! F! A!” the way you might hear “U! S! A!” at a monster truck rally. With that as the pre-show noise floor, then it was no surprise that security had orders to be extra-vigilant and rightly so – when the curtain covering their giant “DFA 1979 2001-2006” tombstone backdrop fell to the floor and Keeler and Grainger strode out onstage, shit was lost (and so was their stage garb, with the all-in-white, bleached-blonde Grainger looking rather Jacob and Keeler playing The Man In Black, but I digress).

I must confess to only knowing a few songs from the DFA1979 oeuvre (even though it consists of just a single full-length in You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine and a few EPs and singles) but I don’t think that was a real issue as their aesthetic is pretty limited. Imagine grinding, metallic bass and drum riffing seasoned with synths and wailing vocals and you’re pretty much there. But what they lack in range, they more than make up for in volume and vigor. They pounded out one song after another while the crowd surged like a wave pool, steadily cresting with crowd surfers as drinks, clothes and three-finger devil salutes flew about. Early on it seemed like it’d be all business for the duo, with a “Thank you, we’re from here” offered by Grainger as the only bit of banter, but later on they got chattier with a highlight of the banter being Keeler’s response to a request for a bass solo: “every song is a bass solo”.

As mentioned, things got fairly samey to me after a while with the band offering sleek aggression and relentless rhythm in lieu of hooks – not that my head ever stopped bobbing to the beat. “Romantic Rights” was appreciated not only because its killer opening riff remains a high point in the entire DFA1979 catalog, but because Grainger took the opportunity to get up from behind the kit and wander the stage while singing, proper frontman-style. But even when my attention wandered from the music, there was also the audience to watch as they continued to freak out, head bang, what have you throughout the show. I may have been there mainly out of curiosity, but for many/most this was something they’d been waiting for for years and probably never expected, considering how acrimonious the original split had seemed. And for them, I’m pretty sure it was everything they’d hoped for and more. I get it, but I still don’t like the vocals.

Exclaim, NOW, BlogTO, The National Post and The Globe & Mail all have reviews of the show(s).

Photos: Death From Above 1979 @ The Sound Academy – October 27, 2011
MP3: Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”
Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Black History Month”
Video: Death From Above 1979 – “Romantic Rights”

Arctic Monkeys have released a new video from Suck It And See.

Video: The Arctic Monkeys – “Evil Twin”

PopMatters chats with Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons.

The Quietus talks to Jim Reid of The Jesus & Mary Chain.

Exclaim reports that Elvis Costello will be releasing a live set culled from the Los Angeles dates of this year’s “The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” tour, which came through town in June. Elvis Costello & the Imposters: The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! will be released as a limited-edition CD/DVD/10″ box set on December 6 – with price to match – and less fancy editions will be released in the new year.

GQ talks to PJ Harvey.

Spin is offering a stream of the opening track from Noel Gallagher’s solo debut Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, out next Tuesday and showcased over two nights at Massey Hall on November 7 and 8. The Globe & Mail has an interview.

Stream: Noel Gallagher – “Everybody’s On The Run”

Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers discusses his Polaroid fetish with The Guardian. The images compiled over the Manics’ career will be compiled in a book entitled Death of a Polaroid: A Manics Family Album, out next month, and the band’s new best-of comp National Treasures is out today in the UK.

The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Globe & Mail and The Guardian talk to Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine about her second album Ceremonials, out this week.

Exclaim points to a stream of both sides of a new 7″ from former Long Blondes singer Kate Jackson, limited to 300 pieces and due out December 7. You may recall a different song was premiered a few months back, but it wasn’t sold physically so this is her first “proper” release.

MP3: The Kate Jackson Group – “Date With Dawn”
Stream: The Kate Jackson Group – “Wonder Feeling”
Stream: The Kate Jackson Group – “The Atlantic”

And Prince has announced two dates at the Air Canada Centre on November 25 and 26 as part of his “Welcome 2 Canada” tour. Yes he’s crazy but he’s also an incredible performer and if the “Welcome 2 America” shows already done are any indication, he’s giving the fans what they want this time out. So… yeah. Tickets on sale this Friday, November 4 at 10AM, ranging from $67.75 to $268.25, fees included.

Video: Prince – “Let’s Go Crazy”

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

"Baby, You've Got A Stew Going"

Seriously, I intended to take today off but in my meanderings around the internets, I found some concert announcements. And then some more concert announcements. And then some more. And so I took them, threw them in a pot, added some broth, a potato. Baby, I’ve got a stew going. So here we go, quick like bunny. ‘Cause I need to go get groceries.

Of all the announcements, the only one that I would have immediately decided to attend was The Long Blondes’ May 22 date at Lee’s Palace, and I say “would” rather than “will” because on that date, I will be in London. It figures – I go to the UK, they come to Canada, and that’s not the only UK band I like that’s coming to town while I’m away. As for the other, well, scan the last few days of posts and you should be able to figure it out (not officially announced yet so I can’t say). Anyway, they’re releasing their sophomore record Couples on April 8 and Pitchfork has full tour dates and album info.

MP3: The Long Blondes – “Once And Never Again”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Weekend Without Makeup”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Giddy Stratospheres”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Separated By Motorways”
Video: The Long Blondes – “Once And Never Again”

And now the rest of the shows, in chronological order. If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to spend a fortnight in April camped out at the ElMo, your ship has come in.

One of the biggest bands in Ireland, Bell X1 try to win over North Americans with a tour in support of their album Flock, which has a February 19 release on these shores. The tour starts in Toronto on March 12 at the El Mocambo.

MP3: Bell X1 – “Rocky Took A Lover”
Video: Bell X1 – “Flame”

One of the next big things out of the UK – Duffy – is at the Mod Club on March 18, tickets $15.50.

Video: Duffy – “Rockferry”
Video: Duffy – “Mercy”

Sunset Rubdown are at Lee’s Palace on March 30, tickets $12. They’re still touring in support of last year’s
Random Spirit Lover.

MP3: Sunset Rubdown – “Winged Wicked Things”
MP3: Sunset Rubdown – ” Up On Your Leopard, Upon The End Of Your Feral Days”

Wolf Eyes hit Lee’s on April 1, no foolin’ (that was so bad). $12 in advance. Full dates here.

MP3: Wolf Eyes – “Stabbed In The Face”
MP3: Wolf Eyes – “The Driller”

Mick Jones’ new outfit Carbon/Silicon tour their debut Last Post to Lee’s Palace on April 2. Matt Pond PA support. Their new record Last Light was released last year.

MP3: Carbon/Silicon – “What The Fuck”
Video: Carbon/Silicon – “The News”
Video: Matt Pond PA – “Locate The Pieces”

VHS Or Beta are at the El Mocambo on April 3 in support of 2007’s Bring On The Comets. Admission is $10.

Video: VHS Or Beta – “Can’t Believe A Single Word”

Seattle’s Throw Me The Statue, coming off last year’s About To Walk EP and set to release their full-length Moonbeams at on February 19, are at the El Mocambo April 4. Tickets are $10. Other tour dates here.

MP3: Throw Me The Statue – “About To Walk”

The Dodos, all the way from San Francisco, will be at the El Mocambo on April 9 in support of their new record Visiter, out March 18. Full tour dates here.

MP3: The Dodos – “Jody”
MP3: The Dodos – “Fools”
Video: The Dodos – “Fools”

Minneapolis’ Cloud Cult have a new album in the can – Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) – set for an April 8 release and will tour in support, stopping at the El Mocambo on April 14. That show will cost you $10.

Video: Cloud Cult – “Chemicals Collide”

Saul Williams and Dragons Of Zynth have a date at the Mod Club on April 14. This is a musical show for Williams, not just spoken word. Though he’s likely to speak at some point during the show as well.

MP3: Saul Williams – “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
Video: Saul Williams – “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

From the ashes of Pretty Girls Make Graves come The Cave Singers, who released their debut Invitation Songs last year. They’re at the Horseshoe on April 30, tickets $10.

MP3: The Cave Singers – “Seeds Of Night”
Video: The Cave Singers – “Dancing On Our Graves”

Laura Veirs, still working last year’s Saltbreakers, returns to town for a show at the El Mocambo on May 24 with Liam Finn. His debut is Call Me Lightning and yes, from his surname, you can surmise he grew up in a somewhat crowded house. Admission is $10 in advance.

MP3: Laura Veirs – “Galaxies”
MP3: Liam Finn – “Second Chance”
Video: Laura Veirs – “Cast A Hook In Me”
Video: Liam Finn – “Second Chance”

And finally, this Pitchfork piece indicates that on July 4, Harbourfront Centre will play host to both Ladytron and Datarock, almost certainly as part of their annual Beats, Breaks & Culture festival… which would mean this show is free. Yay for free. Ladytron’s new record Velocifero is out June 3.

MP3: Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”
MP3: Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch” (Hot Chip remix)
MP3: Datarock – “Fa-Fa-Fa”
Video: Ladytron – “Destroy Everything You Touch”
Video: Datarock – “Fa-Fa-Fa”
Video: Datarock – “Bulldozer”

Reveille welcomes Basia Bulat back to Minneapolis. She plays Lee’s Palace on March 29.

Spinner features The New Pornographers in an Interface session. They play the Phoenix with Okkervil River on April 9.

With the Grammy Awards set for tomorrow night, the media has finally found a reason to give multiple nominee Feist some attention. Witness pieces in The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Sun, The Vancouver Sun, The Belfast Telegraph and The Los Angeles Times. Feist plays the Sony Centre on May 13.

Efrim Menuck tells Drowned In Sound why Godspeed You! Black Emperor had to stop, and how you can essentially change their status from “hiatus” to “defunct”. His current project, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band will release 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons on March 25 and play two nights at Lee’s Palace on June 7 and 8.

Apparently Arcade Fire aren’t the only Canadian band whose music was used by Fox in last week’s Super Bowl broadcast without permission. Chart reports that Ottawa’s My Dad Vs Yours had about 90 seconds of their song “Habla Paisano” used as background music in an interview segment without permission and, more crucially, without compensation. They are currently investigating the legalities of their situation.

Best news ever – according to this Globe & Mail travel piece on Austin, Texas, Air Canada will begin offering direct flights from Toronto starting May. NO MORE LAYOVERS IN O’HARE, BITCHES. I just did a quick test reservation for mid-May… $474 return. Hot diggity dog. If that holds for March as well, SxSW just got $200 cheaper and four hours faster. Of course, one flight a day means I have to book next year, oh, right now to get a seat but I’m willing to do that. I am.