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Posts Tagged ‘Girl Talk’

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Entertainment

Phoenix, Hot Chip, Girl Talk, and more at The Grove Fest in Toronto

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangThere’s been a narrative this Summer about Toronto’s music festival scene going through a sort of Renaissance, with events like Field Trip, TURF, Mad Decent’s Block Party, and Riot Fest establishing both the city’s niche in the greater festival hierarchy – solid second-tier, not-quite-destination events for under 10,000 people – as well as affirming Garrison Common at Fort York as the perfect venue for said events in terms of size and location (unless you live in one of the condos next door in which case too bad). This past Saturday’s The Grove Fest wasn’t originally part of this narrative when it was first announced back in March, being set an hour away in Niagara-On-The-Lake, but it was certainly of interest to festival-goers from the 416 what with an eclectic lineup drafting off those acts commuting between Lollapalooza in Chicago and Osheaga in Montreal, boasting acts like Phoenix and Hot Chip.

But while the multi-genre/demographic randomness of the performers was reminiscent of the Rogers Picnics of the mid-’00s – The Roots with the New Pornographers and Bad Brains? Animal Collective with City & Colour and Dizzee Rascal? – the Grove Fest quickly began to feel more like the chronically snakebit Virgin Fests of the same era. Barely a month after being announced, the festival was moved from Niagara to the aforementioned Garrison Common in downtown Toronto – no official reason was given though soft sales and local opposition are reasonable suspects – and three acts dropped off the bill, with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pretty Lights, and Bob Mould presumably taking advantages of out clauses in their contracts to book their own, more lucrative shows or just not bother. And just when it seemed the dust had settled, Swedish electro-party duo Icona Pop dropped off the bill earlier this week for their own unannounced reasons. Disappointing? Definitely. Disastrous? Not necessarily; the remaining lineup was still solid and guaranteed to put on a good show, and if enough people still showed up – and one would think the number of complimentary tickets circulating would more than make up for those who demanded refunds – it would still be a fun time.

Arriving a couple acts into the day – apologies Nightbox and Young Empires, had things to do – it was heartening to see that there was already a solid turnout, less concerned with the drama leading up to the day than the entertainment to follow. But things still weren’t quite clockwork – I thought I had arrived just in time to catch Wavves, as per the schedule on the festival website, but instead it was brash Brit newcomers Palma Violets who took the stage – the only thing more head-scratching than the switch was that hardly anyone seemed to notice or care.

This was Palma Violets’ third visit to Toronto since January, and it was good to see that their heavy touring schedule between then and now – to say nothing of actually releasing an album in 180 – had produced solid returns. Ironically, the rough-and-tumble pub rock persona that seemed a bit put-on in an actual bar came across much better on a large festival stage. Bassist “Chilli” Jesson had the moves for getting the audience engaged and the girls shrieking down pat, making up for guitarist Sam Fryer’s distraction at having to play through an amp that was buzzing louder than his actual guitar signal. As their set closer, they invited local political pundit and former punk rocker Warren Kinsella to contribute vocals on a cover by his old band, The Hot Nasties. Pretty sure no one knew who he was.

Photos: Palma Violets @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Palma Violets – “We Found Love”
Video: Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”
Video: Palma Violets – “Last Of The Summer Wine”
Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends

I’d pretty much confirmed that Wavves and their stoner-garage-surf-pop wasn’t really my thing after seeing the at NXNE 2010, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t still be impressed at how they’ve improved as an outfit since then. Now a four-piece, with a second guitarist backing up frontman Nathan Williams, the material from their just-out third album Afraid Of Heights sounded more polished and sophisticated than their older stuff, but without sacrificing any of their stoned/snotty attitude – the melodies that had always been there were just moved more to the surface, and the songs benefitted for it. Their set was probably too short for some – it was just right for me – but those who want more should be pleased that Wavves are back for a headlining show at the Opera House on September 29 and Williams will probably be happy to be back with better on-stage sound.

Photos: Wavves @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Wavves – “Hippies Is Punks”
MP3: Wavves – “I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl”
MP3: Wavves – “Cool Jumper”
MP3: Wavves – “TV Luv Song”
MP3: Wavves – “Horse Shoes”
MP3: Wavves – “Mutant”
Video: Wavves – “That’s On Me”
Video: Wavves – “Afraid Of Heights”
Video: Wavves – “Demon To Lean On”
Video: Wavves – “Sail To The Sun”
Video: Wavves – “No Waves”
Video: Wavves – “Post Acid”
Video: Wavves – “Bug”
Video: Wavves – “King Of The Beach”
Video: Wavves – “So Bored”
Video: Wavves – “No Hope Kids”

As mentioned, the original Grove lineup was a commendably diverse one and it’s a unfortunate that when the dust settled, it was basically split into half guitar rawk acts and half electro-dance acts, and sandwiched in the middle was Earl Sweatshirt. For those not up on their hip-hop who’s whos, Thebe Kgositsile was claimed to be the most talented of the Odd Future crew and after releasing his debut Earl mixtape in 2010, was sent to a boarding school in Samoa until his 18th birthday and basically disappeared from sight… until he didn’t. At any rate, Sweatshirt is now firmly back in the public eye with a new album in Doris ready for release in a couple weeks on August 20. If his mother was intending to deter him from a music career, she clearly failed. And if you thought that an act whose setup should have only required a live mic and a laptop plugged into the PA would have had the easiest setup of the fest, you’d have been wrong. Technical issues delayed the start of Sweatshirt’s set by a good 10 minutes, or a third of his allotted time. They eventually got things going and Sweatshirt delivered a set from the edge of the stage, his delivery low-key but intense and his short songs wrapped in a fair bit of conversational banter. It felt more like an introduction than a proper set, but if there was one thing the Grove was getting right, it was keeping on schedule, so on things went.

The Los Angeles Times and MTV have feature pieces on Earl.

Photos: Earl Sweatshirt @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Earl Sweatshirt – “Between Friends”
MP3: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Hive”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Whoa”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Earl”

It was easy to tell who the Gaslight Anthem fans were, because of all the acts they were the ones whose fans proudly wore their t-shirts, no doubt purchased at the many previous Gaslight Anthem shows they’d attended, including their show at the Sound Academy just last December. All of which is to say that the New Jersey outfit has clearly garnered a loyal fanbase over its seven-year, four-album existence. That said, this would be my first time seeing them and it’s kind of a shame that frontman Brian Fallon appears to be wearying of the E-Street allusions because likening them to a punk rock Springsteen is neither insult nor inaccurate, at least from a superficial, first-impression perspective. It was easy to see how the big, riff-fueld anthems of resolutely meat-and-potato rock’n’roll could engender such fan loyalty; it’s designed for rebellion, disaffection, and just being young. So while being an old person I didn’t necessarily feel it, I totally understood it. Kids, I was once like you.

Photos: The Gaslight Anthem @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Here Comes My Man”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Handwritten”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “45”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Bring It On”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “American Slang”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Great Expectations”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Old White Lincoln”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “The ’59 Sound”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “I’da Called You Woody, Joe”
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “Drive”

The setting for my previous and only Girl Talk experience couldn’t have been more different from this one, but even if there’s no comparing a 4AM set on the shores of the Mediterranean to a 7PM set in the shadow of the Gardiner Expressway, one thing was certain – it’d be a whole lot of fun. Bringing dancers from the crowd to fill out the stage while he kept the top 40/classic rock/hip-hop mash-up machine going, Gregg Gillis and company doused the audience in confetti, toilet paper, balloons, and good vibes. What’s to say? If you’ve seen/been to a Girl Talk show, you know exactly what it was. If you haven’t seen/been to a Girl Talk show, you should really see/go to a Girl Talk show.

The Stranger talks to Gillis about the art of the mash-up.

Photos: Girl Talk @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
MP3: Girl Talk & Jim Jones – “Believe In Magic”
Video: Girl Talk – “All Day”

Some would argue that it was an injustice giving Hot Chip just a 40-minute set; surely with five albums of fantastic electro-pop to their name and a reputation for stellar live shows, they should have gotten a little more time in? Perhaps, in the original Grove configuration of two stages tag-teaming sets it could have happened, but as it was, they – like everyone else playing – was up against the clock. But if there was a positive side to this, it was that they opted to fill every minute of the time they were given with the hits – less the ballads – and nothing but. I’d last seen them in April 2010 behind One Life Stand – I missed last Summer’s tour for In Our Heads – so my data points aren’t complete, but I daresay I’d not seen the band be so energized and into the performance before – it was like they were more into putting on a show than just soundtracking the party. And so despite sound complaints – prevalent throughout the day but especially critical for Hot Chip’s set – partying did occur.

Tom Tom has an interview with Hot Chip’s (relatively) new drummer, Sarah Jones, formerly of New Young Pony Club. If you were wondering. I was.

Photos: Hot Chip @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Hot Chip – “Don’t Deny Your Heart”
Video: Hot Chip – “Night & Day”
Video: Hot Chip – “Look At Where We Are”
Video: Hot Chip – “How Do You Do”
Video: Hot Chip – “Flutes”
Video: Hot Chip – “I Feel Better”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Life Stand”
Video: Hot Chip – “One Pure Thought”
Video: Hot Chip – “Ready For The Floor”
Video: Hot Chip – “The Warning”
Video: Hot Chip – “Over And Over”
Video: Hot Chip – “Colours”
Video: Hot Chip – “And I Was A Boy From School”
Video: Hot Chip – “Playboy”

The rise of Phoenix from likeable but hardly beloved indie-pop band to massive worldwide stars post-Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and, with the release of this year’s Bankrupt!, top-tier festival headliners, has been fascinating to watch. There’s those who don’t believe the band deserve it and are akin to one-hit wonders hanging out at the rock’n’roll hall of fame – and it’s true, with their ascent built largely on the back of one massive album or, more specifically, a couple of massive songs, their path to the biggest poster font is markedly different from those legacy acts with decades-long careers, even if their best work is inarguably behind them. But what that also means is that Phoenix’s fans are young and thus far less jaded or weary of festivals – so yeah, with the band having been off the road and out of sight for more than a couple years, their base is excited and sure as heck buying tickets to see them. The onus, really, is on the band to prove that they belong there. And based on their pulverizing one-hour, Grove-closing set, Phoenix belong.

Starting a bit late on account of setting up their massive light show gear, their set opened with a blazing “Entertainment” and, perhaps wanting to prove they didn’t need to hold their biggest songs back, were onto “Lisztomania” by the third number. What’s interesting is that fundamentally, Phoenix’s live show hadn’t really changed since I last saw them in June 2009 – Thomas Mars still climbs the monitors, gladhands the audience, and basically gives it his all while his five bandmates are as tight as tight gets – but the scale of the presentation has been necessarily amped up and what impresses is how naturally they’ve grown with it. They don’t seem at all out of place in the big spotlight, on the big stage, and if anything, they look as though they’ve been there all along and were just waiting for everyone to catch up with them. Even with just an hour to work with, they crammed in a baker’s dozen songs – including “Sunskrupt!”, their amalgam of instrumental “Love Like A Sunset” and mostly-instrumental “Bankrupt!” – as well as a huge finale/reprise of “Entertainment” to close the show. Phoenix skeptics may have a point in the long term; Bankrupt! is a solid record but hasn’t reached Wolfgang-level heights, so come their next album, it’s no sure thing that Coachella, Lollapalooza, et al will be calling, but for now, in 2013, this is where they belong.

The Grid grabbed an interview with Phoenix prior to the festival.

Photos: Phoenix @ Garrison Common – August 3, 2013
Video: Phoenix – “Trying To Be Cool”
Video: Phoenix – “Entertainment”
Video: Phoenix – “1901”
Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Video: Phoenix – “Consolation Prize”
Video: Phoenix – “If I Ever Feel Better”
Video: Phoenix – “Long Distance Call”
Video: Phoenix – “Twenty-One One Zero”
Video: Phoenix – “Run Run Run”

NOW, BlogTO, and The National Post also have reviews of the fest.

And so The Grove. While many aspects of the fest were well-conceived and seemed to be undone by pure bad luck, although that doesn’t excuse other issues with the event – poor communication, dodgy sound, expensive concessions – that promoters with the experience that Goldenvoice have (they do Coachella) should have avoided. It seemed that by show time, the organizers were just trying to keep their heads down and get it over with without anyone dying or losing more money and even if much of the audience weren’t actual paying attendees, they still deserved better. There’s no question that there exists an opportunity for a festival in Toronto on the same weekend as Lollapalooza and Osheaga – pretty much every band playing both will be driving down the 401 that August long weekend – but it’s hardly the no-brainer it might appear. Any event would be at the scheduling mercy of those two big players, and considering that both – especially Osheaga – counts a strong Toronto demographic in their attendees, there’s not a lot of incentive to make it easy for acts to play all three cities, not that it’s necessarily easy in the first place – logistics are a bitch. Still, I hope/believe that something will rise up to fill this niche – whether it’s The Grove, valuable lessons learned and ready for another round, or someone else who thinks they can get it right, we shall see. And if someone does try, they’d be well advised to consult The Grid‘s helpful roundup of some of the music festivals that have tried – and failed – to make it work in the 416. Man, this town.

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Oblique City

Phoenix rises with new festival and cross-border shopping opportunities

Photo By Arnaud PotierArnaud PotierAs It’s been kind of funny to see the incredulity that has that has met the announcement of Phoenix as a top-billed act as the Summer’s festival lineups are rolled out in the US and Europe, with people scoffing “since when are Phoenix festival headliners?”. The answer, of course, being “since they began headlining festivals” – which is to say this year, following the massive success of 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and in anticipation of the April 23 release of Bankrupt!.

This elevation is obviously good news for those headed to Coachella, Primavera, or what have you – as well as for the French band, who are finding themselves in the enviable position of being able to gold plate anything they like – but is less good news for cities who don’t host big A-list Summer festivals… which includes Toronto. And while the return of something even on the scale of Virgin Fest seems unlikely – though you may recall Phoenix played the first one way back in 2006 with a decidedly non-headlining, early afternoon slot – we’re actually doing pretty well with somewhat smaller to-dos, particularly ones that are in a position to align with more established festivals relatively nearby. This year’s inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Fest is drafting quite nicely off of Ottawa Bluesfest and Montreal Jazz Fest, and yesterday’s announcement of The Grove Fest, taking place August 3 at The Commons at Butler’s Barracks in Niagara-On-The-Lake – looks to take full advantage of being located midway between Montreal and Chicago on Osheaga/Lollapalooza weekend.

Phoenix will headline this event – if that wasn’t obvious from the opening paragraph – and be joined by a diverse bill including Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pretty Lights, The Gaslight Anthem, Bob Mould, Earl Sweatshirt, Wavves, Icona Pop, Palma Violets, Young Empires, and Nightbox. It’s a lineup that spans the globe, is heavy on the dance party vibe but with a decent dollop of guitar angst. The bill actually feels like those Rogers Picnics that ran for a few years down at Fort York in that there’s something to satisfy everyone and something to annoy everyone – mostly Macklemore, I would imagine.

Early bird tickets go on sale today at 10AM for $74.50, and after those are gone regular passes are $79.50; VIP tickets are available for $140. And no, Niagara-On-The-Lake is NOT in Toronto, but a 90-minute straight shot down the QEW isn’t bad, and if you want to make a long weekend getaway out of it, Buffalo is just across the border. And you know you’ve been looking for an excuse to go to Buffalo.

The Line Of Best Fit has an interview with Phoenix.

Video: Phoenix – “Lisztomania”
Video: Girl Talk – “All Day”
Video: Hot Chip – “Night & Day”
Video: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop”
Video: Pretty Lights – “So Bright” (live)
Video: The Gaslight Anthem – “45”
Video: Bob Mould – “The Descent”
Video: Earl Sweatshirt – “Chum”
Video: Wavves – “Sail To The Sun”
Video: Icona Pop – “I Love It”
Video: Palma Violets – “Best Of Friends
Video: Young Empires – “White Doves”
Video: Nightbox – “Relocate You”

And just as the likes of Field Trip and TURF further entrench Garrison Commons at Fort York as one of Toronto’s go-to Summer concert venues and former War Of 1812 battlegrounds as great places to throw parties – if only Olympic Island had seen bloodshed, perhaps it would have remaind in favour – southern Ontario concertgoers may want to keep Niagara-On-The-Lake’s Butler’s Barracks in their GPS. On June 29, it will also hosting a one-day mini-fest headlined by City & Colour and supported by Metric, Jimmy Eat World, Serena Ryder, and Yukon Blonde. Tickets for that are $64.75 and on sale now.

MP3: Metric – “Gimme Sympathy”
MP3: Jimmy Eat World – “Bleed American”
MP3: Yukon Blonde – “Fire”
Video: City & Colour – “Comin’ Home”
Video: Serena Ryder – “Stomps”

And back to TURF, another batch of acts has been announced for the four-day event running July 4 to 7. We’ve got Yo La Tengo, who will be playing on the 7th since they will follow headliners Belle & Sebastian on tour after that, and also JD McPherson, The Barr Brothers, and Larry and his Flask. Each week finds the lineup getting stronger and more eclectic; by the time the schedule and ticket information is released later this month, it should be a doozy.

MP3: Yo La Tengo – “Stupid Things”
Video: JD McPherson – “Fire Bug”
Video: Larry & His Flask – “Call It What You Will”
Video: The Barr Brothers – “Beggar In The Morning”

And in club show announcements – no, not everything is happening at a national historic site: Peter Murphy will mark the 35th anniversary of Bauhaus with a set comprised entirely of material of his old band. That happens May 10 at Lee’s Palace, tickets $29.50 in advance.

Video: Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”

Doldrums will play his first show in town since last week’s release of Lesser Evil at The Horseshoe on May 11 – you know, in case there wasn’t enough going on that night with Foals, Charles Bradley, and The Breeders elsewhere in town. Tickets are $10 in advance.

MP3: Doldrums – “Jump Up”

If you’ve been waiting for Los Angeles buzz band Haim to come to town and are a Vampire Weekend fan, congratulations – the sister act have been named as support for their May 16 show at The Sony Centre. And if you’re not a Vampire Weekend fan… sorry, but you can at least take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not a Vampire Weekend fan.

Video: Haim – “Falling”

While it’s all well and good that Laura Stevenson is coming back to town – I enjoyed her set opening for Maps & Atlases back in August 2010 – I’m more excited that Brooklyn’s Field Mouse will be opening up for her at The Drake on May 21; verily do they hit my indie-pop sweet spot. Tickets for that are $12.50 in advance.

Video: Laura Stevenson – “Master Of Art”
Video: Field Mouse – “Glass”

The Shins have decided to take last year’s Port Of Morrow for another spin – they’ll be at The Sound Academy on May 22, tickets $34.50 general admission and $44.50 VIP.

MP3: The Shins – “Know Your Onion!”

It’s like a cross-generational synth-pop summit; Diamond Rings will open up for Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark at the Danforth Music Hall, both on the previously announced July 11 date and the just-announced July 19 second date. Tickets for both are $35 in advance.

MP3: Diamond Rings – “I’m Just Me”

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Primavera Sound 2011 Day Two

The Flaming Lips, Grinderman, Girl Talk and more at Primavera Sound

Photo By Frank YangFrank YangI’m not sure what purpose Barcelona’s Parc del Forum, a fairly massive, considerably paved waterfront park on the edge of the city, is used for the rest of the year – it seems to built up and out of the way for just hanging out in – but for one weekend in May, at least, it’s a pretty terrific spot to hold a music festival. Some more grassy spaces would be welcome and being long and narrow, it can be a haul from one stage to the next, but when you realize you’re seeing a fantastically well-curated lineup of artists right on the shores of the Mediterranean, then a little bit of walking doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

As a North American festival-goer used to things kicking off at the crack of noon, it was odd to see Primavera Sound’s schedule not getting underway until late afternoon each day and going until almost the crack of dawn. But as it turned out, this was a pretty sweet arrangement – assuming you didn’t have to work in the morning – as it saved you from being in a wide open space during the hottest part of the day and let you do touristy things while still packing in a full slate of acts.

My Thursday began at the San Miguel mainstage for Of Montreal and though it had been a few years since I last saw them live, it was good to see that they hadn’t tamed things down at all in the interim. Quite the opposite, actually, as in addition to the psychedelic electro-funk that you find on their records, the show was crammed with such curiosities as costume changes, balloon acrobats, Mexican wrestlers and epic man versus she-pig battle re-enactment. For any other band, these technicolor shenanigans would probably constituted doing something special for the festival but for Of Montreal? Just another day at the office.

Post-Of Montreal, it was time to wander the grounds a bit and get the lay of the land and coming across the ATP Stage, I stopped to listen to London’s Seefeel for a bit, having read something about them on the Twitters. I caught about 10 minutes of their set but apparently this was just the outro of their final song, consisting of a pulsing, groovy bit of drone-dub that played quite nicely against the backdrop of the sea. Might have been nice to have actually heard a song, but what can you do.

By this time, night had fallen and ater verifying that none of the festival’s wifi points were working – no surprise but really, why even pretend they’ll work? – it was over to the Ray-Ban Stage where I was susprised to find Big Boi on stage and punctual. Maybe he was jet-lagged and thought he was two hours late. Either way, his crew had been hard at work pre-set to round up pretty girls from the audience – and this being Spain there were a lot of them – and had them on-stage as dancers. Fun to watch for a bit but after hearing the couple of Big Boi/Outkast songs I knew, it was time to move on.

The first can’t-miss act of the festival, for me at least, as Grinderman. Yes, I’d seen Nick Cave and company’s alter ego at their North American debut last Fall but whereas some acts excel in a club-sized environ, I posit that the potency of Grinderman actually comes across better in a big outdoor setting. With the extra stage and pit space to move around in, Cave seemed extra unhinged as though he amped up his intensity to make sure all the thousands in attendance got their fair share. In particular, the camera shots of Cave stalking the pit between audience invasions during “Kitchenette” reminded of ringside footage from a prize fight and in “Honey Bee”, he proved that he may be the only man on earth who can make bee noises and arm flapping come across sinisterly. Grinderman were loud, raw and exhilarating and it’s a good thing that at set’s close when Cave encouraged everyone to Suicide, he specified the band playing the next stage over and not the act. Because after their performance, this was not a man you wanted to say no to.

Circa their latest self-titled album, there’s been much talk about how Interpol’s time is past, how they’re on the decline – that’s not a position that would have gotten much traction with the thousands who showed up for their 1AM set on the Llevant Stage. And for as much as you can complain that Interpol does the same thing over and over again, there were a few new things to come out of their set. For instance, Daniel Kessler speaks Spanish – at least I think it was Kessler who addressed the audience fluently in their native tongue, I suppose it could have been Paul Banks. I couldn’t tell from way back in the field. And also different was the speed at which they plowed through their songs – tempos on most numbers were ratcheted up from the norm, perhaps for a more efficient set. It wasn’t necessarily better, but it was different. But otherwise, Interpol was Interpol. And I have no idea who’s playing bass for them now.

I left their set early so as to stake out prime bubble walk/confetti cannon position for The Flaming lips. There was some ambiguity about exactly which show they were going to be performing and I was mildly disappointed this didn’t turn out to be a Soft Bulletin show as I’m one of those who hold that album up as their masterpiece and material from it doesn’t get aired out in regular sets nearly as much as it should. But if it being otherwise meant that I’d get a repeat of last year’s stellar Molson Amphitheater show, then okay – I can deal. And a lot of it was the same, but that didn’t diminish the fun of it, particularly when you’re surrounded by people who’re witnessing the spectacle for probably the first time. Because it remains a hell of a thing. Twists on this particular show included bringing out a translator to greet and advise the audience of the opening space bubble walk, a Wizard Of Oz theme for the dancers with dozens of cute Dorothys whooping it up on either side of the stage, the giant exploding confetti balloons were new, the firing of laser hands at a giant disco ball was an inspired move and there was even a new song in the set with Steve Drozdt showing off some manner of iPhone app that he used to generate noises Kaos Pad-style. It’s nice to see their show continue to evolve with new material while maintaining the elements that are now basically trademarks of the Lips’ shows. Always a blast and you would hear people singing “Race For The Prize” into the night, long after the show was done.

I should note that I started to fade at 4am. I am allowed to fade at 4am. But it wasn’t done. The evening/morning closer was back at the Llevant Stage where Greg Gillis – aka Girl Talk – was flown in from Pittsburgh specifically for this show and when you only have to work for one hour, I imagine you give it your all. Of course as a mash-up artist/DJ, “giving it your all” is more just a figure of speech but for a guy with a laptop, Girl Talk live was a lot of fun. He also filled the stage with dancers and would periodically step out in front of or on top of his desk to dance it up himself, and then there were the thousands of partygoers getting down in sea of feathers, presumably left over from El Guincho’s set beforehand. Yes, it was a sight. Musically I only knew about half of the stuff he played – typically the Top 40/pop half, not the hip-hop half – but I can see why people enjoy his stuff so much. I stuck around for a while but eventually the rising sun and falling stamina forced an end to the day.

A new Flaming Lips EP done in collaboration with Prefuse 73 is available to stream at Paste.

And in other news.

Last night’s Friendly Fires show at The Phoenix has been rescheduled for October 23 at The Phoenix after drummer Jack Savidge was hospitalized “due to exhaustion”. Details at Exclaim. There’s a pre-exhaustion interview with the band at Interview.

White Lies are back for a show at The Phoneix on August 3, tickets $27.50 in advance.

Video: White Lies – “Bigger Than Us”

The Village Voice interviews Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles. They’re at The Phoenix on June 10.

Low play a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR and talks to The Skinny.

Exclaim reports that Stephin Merritt will be releasing a compilation of rarities spanning all of his various bands and projects in Obscurities, due out August 23 on Merge.

MP3: Stephin Merritt – “Forever And A Day”

NPR welcomes TV On The Radio for a World Cafe session.

Drowned In Sound and NPR interview Death Cab For Cutie. They play The Molson Amphitheatre on July 29.

Diamond Rings’ remix series continues with an interpretation of Austra’s “Lose It”. Diamond Rings plays Echo Beach on June 3 and Yonge-Dundas Square and Wrongbar on June 18 for NXNE.

MP3: Austra – “Lose It” (Diamond Rings remix)

Fucked Up’s new opus David Comes To Life is now streaming in whole at NPR, in advance of its release on June 7. They’re playing Yonge-Dundas Square and Wrongbar on June 16 for NXNE and the Air Canada Centre on August 9. Tourdates UK has an interview with Damian Abraham.

Stream: Fucked Up / David Comes To Life

Evening Hymns are featured in a Takeaway Show; they play the Music Gallery for NXNE on June 16.

Dan Mangan has cobbled together some tour footage into a new video, presumably the last from Nice, Nice, Very Nice before his third album Oh, Fortune arrives in September. You can also stream his set this weekend at Sasquatch over at NPR.

Video: Dan Mangan – “Sold”

JAM interviews Sloan. They have two dates at the Mod Club for June 21 and 22.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

A Call To Arms

Beirut finally fulfils fantasies, schedules show with Owen Pallett

Photo via FacebookFacebookBeirut and Owen Pallett have a pretty long and storied history together, with the former enlisting the latter to arrange and add strings and things to their last full-length, 2007’s The Flying Club Cup, as well as take lead vocals on the song “Cliquot” while the latter while still operating as Final Fantasy enlisted members of Beirut to play on his Spectrum, 14th Century EP. So yes, hardly strangers.

But even so it still counts as an occasion and a half that the two are teaming up for a show at The Phoenix on August 2. For starters, Beirut has been awfully quiet since The Flying Club Cup, only releasing a pair of EPs in the 2009 March Of The Zapotec/Realpeople Holland set but not dropping much in the way of hints as to when album number three might be coming. There’s been a bone in the way of a cover contribution to a Red Hot Tropicália-themed benefit album – Pitchfork has details and the Beirut cover available to stream – but other than the fact that the band are scheduling live dates and were beagle hunting (in a good way) back in January, no one’s sure what’s coming or when. But something is coming.

As for Pallett, he’s still riding last year’s Heartland but even he’s got some surprises up his sleeve. Specifically, the format change he hinted at before SXSW appears to be in effect as a press release received yesterday referred to him as, Owen Pallet et Les Mouches, Les Mouches being the name of the three-piece band with whom he played before dedicating himself to Final Fantasy. In other words, he appears to have done gone and gotten a band. Update: This was actually confirmed last week and it is indeed Pallett’s former collaborators in Les Mouches circa 2005 who will be backing him.

Beirut’s first show in Toronto in some four years would have been plenty of reason to get mobilized for when the $32.50 tickets go on sale Thursday, but factor in the addition of a probably all-new, all-different Owen Pallett experience to the bill, all in a venue a touch smaller than the one Beirut played last time (the dearly departed Danforth)? Well, dawdle at your own risk.

And if you needed a reminder of how great the Beirut live experience can be, re-watch the Flying Club Cup videos.

MP3: Beirut – “Postcards From Italy”
MP3: Owen Pallett – “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”
MP3: Final Fantasy (with Beirut) – “The Butcher”

In other show announcements, The Horseshoe will host a fundraiser for the Toronto chapter of Girls Rock Camp on May 5 and have assembled a lineup – fittingly – of girls who rock, led by Julie Doiron and also featuring Forest City Lovers and Gramercy Riffs. Tickets are $12.00

MP3: Julie Doiron – “Consolation Prize”
MP3: Forest City Lovers – “Light You Up”
MP3: Gramercy Riffs – “Call Me”

Salient points: Neil Young. Bert Jansch. Massey Hall. May 10 and 11, 2011. Tickets $89.50, $139.50 & $189.50 plus fees. On sale Friday at 10AM. Solo, electric and acoustic. Neil’s first time back at Massey since Fall 2007. Expensive as hell but quite possibly/probably worth it. And that second show is on my birthday, yo.

Video: Neil Young – “Walk With Me”

Way on the other side of the musical spectrum but still pretty significant – Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, aka Odd Future, aka OFWGKTA, aka the future of hip hop, aka the craziest thing anyone saw at SXSW, is coming to Toronto. They’ll be at The Mod Club on May 15, tickets $29.25 on sale Friday at 10AM via Ticketmaster. If you’re going, prepare yourself. For what? No one knows. That’s the point.

Video: Odd Future – “Sandwiches” (live on Jimmy Fallon)

With the July 8 date now sold out, a second Girl Talk show has been added for the following night, July 9. Still at the Sound Academy, tickets $30.

With the May 3 release of Helplessness Blues imminent, Fleet Foxes have added a new leg to their North American tour and it includes a July 14 stop at Massey Hall, site of their ridiculously triumphant show in August 2009. Tickets range from $35.50 to $45.50 and go on sale April 21 at 10AM.

MP3: Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”

Brooklyn’s Twin Sister have made a date at The El Mocambo for July 19, tickets $10.

MP3: Twin Sister – “Ginger”

It’s worth noting that Montreal’s Osheaga festival announced their lineup on Monday night and as with past years, it’s a solid lineup led by one Eminem and also touting Elvis Costello, The Flaming Lips doing a Soft Bulletin recital, Death Cab For Cutie and more. The fest goes three days from July 29 to July 31 at Parc Jean-Drapeau and three-day passes go on sale Friday.

And while not in the same class as Osheaga, Kingston’s Wolfe Island Music Festival has always punched above its weight class as far as talent goes and excelled at creating a nice and intimate vibe. This year’s edition takes place on August 5 and 6 and the lineup features Stars, Great Lake Swimmers, Plants & Animals, The Wooden Sky, Paul Langlois (of The Tragically Hip) and Jenn Grant with more to be announced. Two-day passes go on sale May 20 for $60.

MP3: Stars – “We Don’t Want Your Body”
MP3: Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”
MP3: Plants & Animals – “Tom Cruz”
MP3: The Wooden Sky – “Something Hiding For Us In The Night”
Video: Jenn Grant – “Getcha Good”

I had thought I might get to some non-show related news but you know what? I’m beat. But if you’re still, I dunno, bored at work and looking for something to read – and in particular if you’re a band or label or PR person – this piece at Culture Bully about dealing with blogger types is worth a look. There is truth and wisdom in those words, though I would add to NOT send blogs 8×10 glossy photos. And if you have to ask why…

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Will Do

TV On The Radio discover PVR, able to release record and tour without missing favourite shows

Photo via FacebookFacebookIt’s been about two and a half years since TV On The Radio’s last effort, Dear Science, and in the interim they’ve had more than a few side projectsand some acting – to keep them occupied. But a break is only a break if you get back to it and so the Brooklynites have announced that they will release their fourth studio album Nine Types Of Light on April 12 and yesterday premiered the first track, “Will Do”, via a Seattle radio station – and for those out of FM transmission range of the Emerald city, it’s available to stream at Soundcloud. Going along with the album announcement and song debut is a Spring tour, which does include Toronto – they’ll be at the Sound Academy on April 18 with general admission tickets $26.50 and VIP $35, on sale Saturday.

Stream: TV On The Radio – “Will Do”

In other concert news, the sold out March 18 Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour date at The Horseshoe is no longer sold out and no longer at the Horseshoe – it’s been moved to Lee’s Palace, which means that a couple hundred more tickets or so are available. And tangentially, the info for tomorrow morning’s presale for the August 12 and 13 Trinity-St. Paul Jeff Mangum shows is now up at the Collective Concerts website (top right rail). Fingers at the ready.

Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings have a date at The Horseshoe on April 14 in support of their new self-titled effort. Tickets for the show are $10 in advance. There’s an interview with bandleader Dylan Baldi at Exclaim, a watchable/downloadable session with the band up at Laundromatinee and a chat with the director of their new video at Spin.

MP3: Cloud Nothings – “Hey Cool Kid”
Video: Cloud Nothings – “Understand At All”

In the best band/venue pairing since Phoenix played The Phoenix, Parts & Labor’s upcoming Spring tour in support of Constant Future, out March 8, will hit Toronto on April 15 with a show at Parts & Labour. There’s also a second MP3 from the album now available to sample.

MP3: Parts & Labor – “Rest”

They were just here in November, but Junip are coming back to town for another show at Lee’s Palace on April 20.

MP3: Junip – “Rope & Summit”

Solo Super Furry Gruff Rhys has a new solo record in Hotel Shampoo, out May 3, and a North American tour in support which includes a June 11 date at The Horseshoe. The Norwich Evening News has an interview with Rhys.

MP3: Gruff Rhys – “Shark Ridden Waters”

Girl Talk has a date at the Sound Academy on July 8, tickets $30 general, $40 VIP. I suspect he could just hit “play” on All Day and go take a nap, and no one would complain.

Lyyke Li’s new record Wounded Rhymes is streaming in whole at Hype Machine in advance of its release on March 1. She plays The Phoenix May 22.

Stream: Lykke Li / Wounded Rhymes

Also streaming but already out and quite the hit is Adele’s second record 21. Interview, The Toronto Star and eye have features on the singer, who has a date at The Kool Haus on May 18.

Stream: Adele / 21