Posts Tagged ‘Childish Gambino’

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011


Fanfarlo, Childish Gambino lead first batch of acts announced for Canadian Musicfest 2012

Photo via fanfarlo.comfanfarlo.comWhen it was announced earlier this Summer that Canadian Musicfest/Canadian Music Week was moving from it’s traditional slot in the second week of March – right before SXSW – to the fourth week of March – right after SXSW – I was confused and concerned. Confused because, well, I dislike change, and concerned because whereas doing back-to-back festivals is exhausting no matter which way you order it, I liked that I could get into game shape with CMW, go hard through SXSW and then collapse immediately afterwards and savour my annual post-Austin cold. But that’s just me – and I think most other Toronto-based music writers – so I can only assume/hope that change in schedule was calculated to grab more high-profile acts touring their way out of Austin and maybe get some slightly less awful weather for the club-hopping.

The latter point remains to be seen but after trickling a number of confirmed smaller/local acts on their website over the past couple months, CMF released the first proper update of showcasing acts for next year’s festival, happening March 22 to March 25 around Toronto. And while it wasn’t a lot, it was still something to sink one’s teeth into just a bit. Of the most interest hereabouts was the return to Toronto of Anglo-Swedish pop orchestra Fanfarlo; I missed their last show here in favour of seeing Titus Andronicus and while it was an amazing show, the fact that Titus have been back like four or five times since and Fanfarlo zero makes me wonder if maybe I bet on the wrong horse for that particular evening. In any case, with their second album Rooms Filled With Light due out on February 28, it’s a no-brainer that they’re coming back for both SXSW and CMF – they’re at The Mod club on the Saturday night, March 24, and advance tickets are $16.00 if you don’t want to do the festival wristband or want to be guaranteed entry.

The other notable big name – and these are relative terms – is Childish Gambino, the hip-hop alter-ego of Community star Donald Glover. I saw him at SXSW this year and it was an uneven performance at best as they were largely trying to work out the technical kinks in the multimedia aspects of the show prior to his first major tour. I am assuming that he’ll spend more time rapping and less time hunched over a laptop when he, his new album Camp and his roadshow hit the Sound Academy on March 24 for what will be one of the festival’s marquee events. Advance tickets for that one will be $25 and again, an undetermined number of CMF wristbands will be admitted.

It’s also worth mentioning that Weakerthans frontman John K Samson will present his new solo record Provincial, out January 24, at the Great Hall on March 22 and poet/hip-hop artist Saul Williams is at The Great Hall the following night, March 23. Beyond those, the interestingness of the additions fall off a cliff pretty quickly – some more acts are supposed to be announced in the next couple days and the next major update comes January 16. Let’s hope they’ve got something else up their sleeves, or else they’ve messed up my March festival routine for naught.

Video: Fanfarlo – “Replicate”
Video: Fanfarlo – “De.Con.Struc.Tion”
Video: Childish Gambino – “Bonfire”
Stream: Childish Gambino / Camp

Memoryhouse will be part of a bill including Dark Mean and headlined by The Rest on December 16 at The Tranzac, tickets $10 in advance. Their debut full-length The Slideshow Effect is set for a February 28 release next year.

MP3: Memoryhouse – “Quiet America”

Not that you should have needed any more incentive, but when Fucked Up announced their two nights of benefit shows at The Great Hall – that would be with their performing David Comes To Life in its entirety and PS I Love You and Quest For Fire rounding out the bill on December 20 and Sloan, Ohbijou and Bonjay performing on December 21 – but the, “but wait! There’s more!” dropped yesterday and yes indeed, there is more. The Sadies have been added to night one while The Rural Alberta Advantage will be performing on night two, and if you don’t think that’s worth your $20 a night, well God, Jed, I don’t even wanna know you. Tickets are available here and here, respectively. And if that’s not Fucked Up enough for you, Exclaim has details on the next installment in their Chinese Zodiac single series – “Year Of The Tiger” will be out on February 7 of next year.

MP3: The Sadies – “Another Year Again”
MP3: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “North Star”

And while on the topic of worthy causes, Arcade Fire have announced that for the holiday season, they will match, dollar for dollar, any donations made to Haiti reconstruction charity Kanpe. They’ve capped the drive at $300,000 but if they have to invoke that limit, then everyone has won anyways. And over at CBC Radio 3, they’ve dug up an old 2004-vintage session with the band for your listening and reminiscing.

Royal City Scene interviews Ohbijou. As mentioned, they’re at The Great Hall on December 21.

Kathleen Edwards has released the first video from her forthcoming album Voyageur, out January 17.

Video: Kathleen Edwards – “Change The Sheets”

Handsome Furs have rolled out a new video from Sound Kapital.

Video: Handsome Furs – “Serve The People”

The Darcys have premiered the first video from their self-titled album over at NME wherein they get all apocalyptic and stuff.

Video: The Darcys – “Don’t Bleed Me” talks to Beatrice Martin of Coeur de Pirate, whom they’ve declared their artist of the month.

Southern Souls has posted a video session with Kathryn Calder.

The first single from Islands’ new album A Sleep & A Forgetting – out February 14 – is available in MP3 and video form at Pitchfork and Stereogum, respectively.

MP3: Islands – “This Is Not A Song”
Video: Islands – “This Is Not A Song”

NPR has a World Cafes session with Feist.

Dan Mangan tries on the journalism hat, penning pieces about the magic of live performance for The Guardian and his favourite books and authors for Clash.

Beatroute talks to Vancouver’s Chains Of Love.

And Toronto concertgoers should bookmark new site Just Shows, who are doing a pretty great job of aggregating concert listings and salient information for the 416 and presenting it in a clean, easy-to-use format.

Monday, March 28th, 2011

SxSW 2011 Night Four

Owen Pallett, Donald Glover, Veronica Falls and more at SxSW

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangAs mentioned, Saturday nights at SxSW have traditionally been kind of slow as far as options go, but this year seemed especially lean – when The Bravery are your headliner at Stubb’s, you have a problem. For my part, I had a number of options circled but nothing that I’d classify as a tentpole show to build my night around and so was glad to see an 8PM listing for IAMDONALD at Red 7 that I’d somehow missed in past schedule scans – and it was a 90-minute show! Double score.

The titular “Donald” was Donald Glover, aka “Troy” from Community, aka all-around funny dude. This, however, wasn’t going to be stand-up. It would be a preview of the IAMDONALD tour which would be kicking off in April and offer both comedy and music, the latter in the form of Glover’s Childish Gambino hip-hop persona. So would this particular showcase be one or the other or both? No one in line was particularly sure, but all were pretty keen to find out. Especially when Community co-star Danny Pudi was spotted entering the venue, briefly raising hopes of a full “Troy & Abed In The Morning” taping.

What it would end up being was more of a dry run than anything else. Much time both pre- and during the show was spent hovering over laptops, working out the synching of multimedia elements and technical details of the live instrumentation, but when they finally got down to brass tacks, it was… alright. The combination of a really bad sound mix – instruments way too loud, vocals mixed too low and yet distorting – made it really difficult to understand what Glover/Gambino was saying, and so a lot of the time it was just, “hey it’s the guy from that TV show jumping around on stage!”. Perhaps if I’d done some prep work like a lot of the audience appeared to have, it’d have gone over better – folks around me were dancing and rapping along with what I gathered were rather graphic and weird descriptions of Gambino (and hopefully not Glover’s) sexual proclivities. Content aside, Glover was an impressive rapper and singer – there was some soul/R&B-style grooves in there as well – and while there’s humour in what he’s doing, it’s pretty clear he’s serious about it. I was a bit disappointed that the stand-up portion of the IAMDONALD tour wasn’t part of this show, though the offhand between-song banter was pretty great, and I can only hope that it allows them to smooth things out before the actual tour. Like turning down the keyboards. Gawd.

Things were much more conventional over at Latitude 30, where London’s Veronica Falls were setting up. Though 50-50 co-ed, Veronica Falls is a “they” and not a “she”, offering a distinctly English take on the ’50s retro garage pop movement. Rather than invoking the sun and beach of their American peers, they’re decidedly darker in outlook though twee-er in sound and come off as though their garages were located in dreary landlocked council estates. Though prevailingly cute, they offered more intensity than you’d expect from the style and were capable of getting right loud when necessary.

And around the corner from the British Music Embassy (as Latitude 30 was dubbed for the week) was the Chilean Music Showcase at Maggie Mae’s, and at the Chilean Music Showcase was a band called Intimate Stranger who, despite the unfortunate name, got my attention during a random schedule browse. Not that this should be interpreted as a broadening of my musical horizons to include more international flavours; Intimate Stranger are fronted by a Brit and sound more like they hail from London than from Santiago. Their guitar-driven tunes are relatively simple, built on tight, unrelenting grooves that bloom and evolve with deviations and improvisations on the theme as it progresses. From that description you might call it jamming but the focus on the song and the melody always keeps things in line. Like many of the acts I saw this week, they were laden with potential but the charisma wasn’t quite there yet – frontwoman Tessie Stranger was a stunner but didn’t seem entirely comfortable with herself and her bandmates preferred to keep their heads down and just go about their business. They owe it to themselves to do better than that.

To cap off the festival, I went off the grid somewhat and hit the Stereogum-sponsored unofficial after party at the Purevolume House, determined to catch Owen Pallett before the clock struck 12 (figuratively speaking) and SxSW turned back into a pumpkin. And in the process, I was introduced to what would be my stock answer should anyone ask me, “what was the worst thing you saw at SxSW?” – Puro Instinct. The Los Angeles outfit has apparently been getting some buzz of late and I can only imagine it’s because of the angle of being fronted by two sisters, one 23 and the other 16. It surely can’t be because of the music. Actually, musically they weren’t bad, with kind of a bubble-goth thing going on and the younger sister, Skylar Kaplan, a perfectly decent guitarist. But big sis Piper… well, if she was going for the drunken aunt at a wedding thing, she nailed it. Possessed of nothing resembling a singing voice, she rasped and croaked her way through their mercifully short set, unable to carry a tune and unwilling to put her drink down as she tried. It was a sad, sad thing to behold and I may be mistaken but I think I saw Courtney Love standing at the side of her stage, shaking her head with disdain.

I’ve mentioned my general boycott of Canadian acts when I’m at SxSW and a sort of extension of that is my habit of taking local acts for granted, in the “I’ll see them next time, they play all the time anyways” sense. And that is how, with the exception of his two-song set at last year’s Polaris gala, I’d gone nearly three years since seeing Owen Pallett live, either as himself or Final Fantasy. And that, kids, was simply far too long – especially since his Twitter feed was implying a format change after the festival, though that may just be recruiting a band. And if that’s the case, I’m sure it’ll be marvelous but part of the wonder of Owen live was how he was able to recreate his miniature symphonies entirely on his own (and with a little help from technology). A wonder I was finally able to get reacquainted with after a couple of near misses over the week. Granted the Purevolume House was kind of an odd setting for him, what with it’s over the top light show and underage afterparty vibe, but you take what you can get. And what we got was a shortish but satisfying set that served to either remind or reveal, depending on how well you knew his work, his musical brilliance. I may not constantly sing his praises hereabouts, but make no mistake that I think he’s one of the most creative talents working in Canada right now, and any time he gets on stage he proves it. For me, a terrific way to close out the festival and for the kids, I think they liked his Mariah Carey cover.

And that, folks, is SxSW 2011 in the books. There’s still the A/V posts with pics (all of which are up), MP3s, videos and links but those will be mixed in with your regularly scheduled news and spews starting tomorrow. I appreciate your sticking through this somewhat decompressed reportage schedule, at least compared to years past – it’s amazing how much you better you feel when you’re not up until 4AM trying to write up the past day. And to anyone who’s heard me insisting loudly that this would be my final SxSW, that I’ve got other/better things I want to do with my travel budget and vacation time… I have nothing better to do. See you next year?