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Archive for February, 2005

26 Feb 05

the wooden stars – another trip back to the 90s

my mid-nineties revival continued last night with a trip to the grad club to check out the wooden stars. i’d seen them live once before, back in 1997ish opening for the inbreds at alfie’s (yes, they used to have lots of good bands at alfie’s when the QEA didn’t suck so bad), and i only remember the following from that show: they had windchimes on their drum kit, and i was so anxious to get to the inbreds’ set that i wasn’t paying them any attention. sad really. i was clearly too impatient in undergrad, and this trait prevented me from enjoying zumpano the couple times i got to see them live. stupid.

anyway, back to last night. the show opened with a short set by snailhouse, who is actually just the solo project of one of the wooden stars’ guitarists. i used to hear the wooden stars mentioned along side snailhouse all the time (with reference to sappy records, touring together, etc.), so this just furthered my nostalgia. he introduced himself with “we’re a band called snailhouse”, which i found pretty funny, and he spent the set standing at the microphone at the back of the stage. it didn’t become clear until the wooden stars took the stage as to why – because that’s where he set up his pedals for the wooden stars’ set. anyway, his solo material pretty much acted as a lullaby for me. not my favouritest thing.

after a long delay, the wooden stars finally took the stage and promptly put aside their set list, which i think was a good thing – they played the songs they felt like at that moment, and things flowed pretty well. while listening to them, i couldn’t help but think about the rheostatics. i think it was that they seem to, at times, sacrifice catchiness for very complex song structures, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. having said that though, i really enjoyed many of their songs – orphans (“a song about babies”), microphone, gravenhurst militia, and a cover of pavement’s cut your hair (a band they “influenced heavily) were standouts. oh, and one weird note: at one point, they called out to the crowd for someone named mathieu, and asked if he wanted to sing a song. he took the stage at lead vocals for a couple songs (looking extremely uncomfortable while doing so) and played bass for another (while the main bassist stood in the crowd). as near as i can figure, he used to be their fulltime bassist, but perhaps doesn’t play with them very much anymore (although he WAS introduced by telling the crowd that he’s also a part of the group). (that paragraph needed more parentheses).

i think they were expecting to be playing to an empty house because of reading week and kid koala playing up the street, and mitch and i figured we’d be the only ones there. we were all surprised that there were, in fact, several dozen people in attendance, many of whom were actually there to listen to the band. one guy (who spent the entire set holding onto his girlfriend like grim death) even made a request, only to be told that they hadn’t played that song in about six years.

summary: a pretty solid way to spend $6.

edit: be sure to check out optimuscrime’s take on the show.

24 Feb 05

hack talk

in case you missed the fabulous hack of chumptastic a few weeks back, zone-h has captured it for posterity. gee thanks zone-h. on the bright side, the hacker that got me also hacked 970 others. so i’m not the only moron.

in other news, i got comment-spammed so badly by some jackass at a couple nights ago that my server’s load average reached 65. (in non-geek-speak, that means that it would’ve taken 65 chumptastics to keep up with the demand from this guy). because it was running so slowly, it took quite a while to log in and block his IP in my apache config, but it was very satisfying to see a bunch of “deny”s show up in my error log. in summary, the next time chumptastic gets hacked, i hope it launches a denial of service at

and that is all.

24 Feb 05

he’s reluctant to find he’s stuck in the 90s

CDs i’ve bought in the last week:

  • joel plaskett – la de da
  • city field – authentic city
  • the inbreds – bsides

it just struck me last night that i might as well be living in the mid 90s again with these purchases. my list could well have looked like this instead:

  • thrush hermit – sweet homewrecker (joel plaskett’s old band)
  • the super friendz – mock up/scale down (matt murphy of city field’s old band)
  • the inbreds – kombinator

it makes me happy that some of the best canadian musicians from the 90s are still making music.

23 Feb 05

i was welcomed to their living room

how good is this lineup?
gentleman reg, magali meagher, jason collett, andrew whiteman, bob wiseman, andre ethier and…sarah harmer.

yup, they all played solo sets last friday night at the bloor cinema at a welcome to our living room, a benefit for the toronto public space committee. oh, and it was fantastic. the bloor was sold out (700 seats!) and the show gave me an opportunity/forced me to climb into the far reaches of the balcony, which i never knew existed. anne has posted a pretty detailed description of the night, but i’ll reiterate a few things of my own, ’cause that’s what i do.

  • gentleman reg’s set showed off his great voice, but unfortunately it served mostly as a lullaby. i was kinda tired when we arrived and i was struggling to stay awake at this point. that’s not a commentary on reg though.
  • magali was second and although she didn’t blow me away, i enjoyed her four songs. quirky lyrics, nice voice, an accordion at one point…how can you go wrong? her last song featured reg and members of her band the phonemes, and it was her best.
  • jason collett opened with a story he told at the elixir back in the summer about setting himself on fire at a grade 8 dance. it cracked me up all over again. his set didn’t wow me (again, reminding me of his august show), but was enjoyable overall. still no tiny oceans of tears either, sadly…
  • andre ethier’s solo stuff is fantastic. he played a 4 song set with christopher sandes accompanying him on guitar and keyboard, and played songs from his solo disc (entitled with christopher sandes featuring pickles and price). it took quite a while for that album to grow on me because i think i was expecting more of a deadly snakes sound, but it definitely was a grower. his set was representative. sadly he didn’t play the night. alas.
  • i hadn’t seen bob wiseman in years, ever since i saw him on the wedge or something in the mid-90s playing piano. i didn’t remember much about him, except that he was kinda silly and funny…and that’s pretty much how his set turned out. he played a bunch of songs on a couple different instruments, but the highlight was the videos he came with – one claiming that he’d been kidnapped and one featuring a puppet’s life story. he also included a fun song with overhead slide accompaniment about being david geffen’s cousin – one that got cut off when they blew a fuse or something. he was fun and i’d enjoy seeing him again, although i don’t think i’d ever buy a cd – i couldn’t see myself listening to him at home.
  • andrew whiteman rushed in at this point, fresh from apostle of hustle’s early show at the drake. after his set was done, he had to rush back for the late show…a crazy night. he was the highlight of the night for me, although some may disagree. he opened by saying that he’d decided to do a couple songs by some of his friends, so he chose to perform unrecognizable but awesome versions of stars’ time can never kill the true heart and metric’s hustle rose. he also sang a couple of new apostle of hustle songs, one of which he struggled mightily with (he couldn’t remember how it started) although his performance of it last tuesday was dead on. if i remember correctly, it’s a new song that was written while they were snowed in in halifax, and was based on a tv movie that was on tv. something about sebastian…
  • and finally came sarah harmer. it was fun to see her perform a solo acoustic set, but i do prefer her with a band. it was clear that a bunch of people in the crowd were there to see her, and they started shouting out various requests. hopefully they were exposed to a bunch of other good music that they’d otherwise likely have never heard. anyway, she wasn’t a highlight for me (gasp!) but i still enjoyed her.

in summary, if you were there you got your $14 worth, and if you missed out, you missed out.

17 Feb 05

at john orr, we need a sign for everything

i guess we’ve smartened up enough to stop disposing of our spoons and toothbrushes down the drain, but we apparently still have a lot to learn:

i also enjoy the use of the “words” donot and thankyou.

17 Feb 05

hustlin’ with the apostle

you know, i get kind of tired of reading cookie cutter record reviews and band interviews in which the journalist clearly clearly knows nothing about the band save for what they’ve read in a press kit (or, dare i say it, other record reviews). i can only imagine how the band themselves feel. anyway, i mention this because every single scrap i’ve ever read about andrew whiteman’s (yes yes, of broken social scene fame, i couldn’t NOT mention that…) apostle of hustle project has mentioned the cuban influence on the record. i’ve had the CD for several months now, and such an influence isn’t blatantly obvious to me…but what do i know about music? okay, sure, he uses a cuban instrument called a tres on the album, but otherwise most of the songs are pretty unrecognizable from his broke social scene contributions. so, to summarize, i’ve always felt that this cuban influence thing was overblown, and the product of “collaborative article writing”.

but now i’ve seen them live, and i was wrong.

the live version of apostle of hustle consisted of andrew on guitar and vocals, julian brown (from matt barber’s union dues) on bass, dean stone (from sarah harmer’s band) on drums, and…get this…a flamenco dancer named ilse gudino on keys+various percussive instruments+her feet. there was also a sampler used quite heavily to fill out the band’s sound (including, presumably, samples of a tres…but what do i know?) the set was pretty laid back, much like the album itself, with lots of wispy vocals and complex rhythms, and lots of cool flamenco! ilse (hopefully i have her name right) found herself perched on an amplified wooden box, and they used the sounds of her dance very effectively in the songs themselves. the set itself consisted of an interesting mix of tracks from folkloric feel as well as a surprising number of new tracks, including at least one cover. most of these new tracks would’ve fit right in on the album, except, dare i say it, they had a more blatant cuban sound to them. i was kind of expecting one of those typical shows from a headlining band with only one album under their belts (see: ac newman, new pornographers, dfa1979); that is, a 45 minute set with a one song encore before they hit the road. apostle proved me wrong with a set nearing an hour and a half, with lots of fun surprises along the way. the only really negative thing i can say about the set is andrew’s admitted lack of desire to talk between songs, which led to a heavy reliance on playing sampled tracks during the large amount (almost bss-esque, but faster) of equipment swapping that went on. but, i could live with that. and hey, any show at which i get to stand next to sarah harmer can’t be all bad.

oh yeah, there were openers. i forget what they were called (well, actually, i never really knew – they mumbled it a couple times during their set, and mitch thought it sounded like “real itchy”) so if anyone can clarify, please do. they were a queen’s band that didn’t sound terrible – their songs were pretty tolerable – but the crowd there to see them annoyed us enough that we retired to the other room during their set. so, my apologies for not having more to say about them, except that that long haired redheaded guy at most shows who always wears a headband was their drummer! and that is all.

one more note: did i miss the memo stating that you must be 6’3 or above to stand in the front two rows at the grad club? seriously guys, if you’re taller than 99% of the people in the crowd, please have some consideration, no matter how hot the flamenco girl might be.

14 Feb 05

holy fuck! (sorry jesus)

you know it’s a good night when the band you go to see turns out to be the 3rd best band on the bill.

i was pretty excited to see that brian borcherdt‘s other project called holy fuck was taking part in wavelength 250, the music series’ fifth anniversary. the saturday night show started early, so we arrived around 8:30 for fear of missing out. the show was at a place called the music gallery, which turned out to be one of the more unique venues i’ve seen. in reality, it’s st. george the martyr church, and we were seated in pews (complete with hymn books) while watching bands perform while a fun light show was projected on the walls behind them.

when we arrived, thanksgiving were already on the stage (such as it was). thanksgiving is actually one guy, adrian orange, who played a song on the grand piano before picking up an acoustic guitar. he was initially joined soley by a guy playing a banjo, before two drummers arrived halfway through the set. i quite enjoyed their set – there was something very neutral milk hotel about it. it got even better when he asked both drummers to go crazy for his closer, and he finished things off by doing some jumping jacks and then sprinting out of the room at full speed. the rest of the band eventually stopped playing.

holy fuck were up second, and apparently the three of them hadn’t played together as a group since last june. brian borcherdt was joined by king cobb steelie’s bassist and a drummer, and he basically looped beats created by all kinda of fun high tech toys (although his synchronizer was sadly nowhere to be found). they only played 3 songs and, while it was ok, i never really had a chance to get into it. i was impressed, however, at their cohesiveness considering they’d had such a long layoff.

third on the bill was shawn hewitt who, despite the raves in this month’s wavelength (and yes, i recognize that they’re biased), bored me to tears. he’s advertised at blending “sweet soul music and angular rock”, but i must’ve missed that through the yawns. he has a great voice, but the music is definitely lacking.

i’m glad we toughed it out to see the fourth “band”, final fantasy. ok, so final fantasy isn’t so much a band as it is one guy, owen pallett, with a violin and a bunch of pedals in front of him. i’d never heard of him until reading a feature about him in now that piqued my interest. he was clearly the highlight of the night, and mesmerized the crowd with the wide range of sounds he could get out of his violin, as well as his adeptness at using his pedals much like danny michel does (only more so) to create a much fuller sound. at various times he is reminiscent of gentleman reg, the arcade fire and the magnetic fields, which makes for an interesting combination. to add to the fun, he played in front of a suspended white sheet, onto which an overhead projector was projected. throughout his set, someone drew and coloured images, overlapped them, and “animated” them by sliding the overheat sheets back and forth across the projector. (have a look at cellointhbasement’s deviantart site for visual evidence). anyway, he brought a mysterious guy named “leon” from the audience up on stage to play drums during his last song (“hey leon?” “yeah?” “do you wanna play drums on this one?” “…sure.”), and at the climax the sheet fell down as though it were planned…or perhaps it was divine intervention. all in all, a fantastic surprise. if he plays a show near you, be sure to check it out.

oh, and one more note before wrapping up: if the short guy who decided to stand on the pew near the front (and directly in front of me) during final fantasy’s set reads this, you’re an asshole. that is all.

11 Feb 05

don’t let arrested development be the next andy richter controls the universe

ok, seriously. what are you people watching, if not arrested development? depending on who you listen to, its demise is either imminent or perhaps just looming off in the distance.

but come on. there isn’t a better show on tv, except maybe six feet under. so go watch. yes, you.

10 Feb 05

the lowest of the low, after 11 years of waiting

ok ok, so the lowest of the low show was a WEEK ago at the elixir. i guess i dropped the ball on that one. i’ll mention it briefly, and i’m sure no one will mind the loooooong delay.

the openers were jay harris and his band, someone i’ve heard of forever but have never seen live. to be honest, i always confuse them with the jimmy swift band. they played for a while, and after a week i remember nearly nothing about their set. i guess they didn’t leave much of an impression.

i was pretty excited about seeing lowest of the low, especially since i had free tickets (plus their new cd) courtesy of rock crew. i bought shakespeare, my butt and hallucigenia when i was in highschool (1992 and 1994 respectively, i think) and even once had tickets to see them when i made my brief pitstop at the university of waterloo in 1994…only to have them break up on me. i’d missed their previous kingston gigs (i remember at least one at aj’s) so it’s about time i finally got to see them live. sadly, it wasn’t everything i’d hoped for. on the bright side, they played a good mix of old and new (i was hoping it wouldn’t all be songs from their latest, sordid fiction), and the crowd happily sang along to bleed a little while tonight among others. on the down side, i never got to hear eternal fatalist or henry needs a new pair of shoes, and their show was pretty unspectacular overall. stephen stanley seems to have a much larger role in the band than he used to, but i still prefer ron hawkins’ songs, old or new. they’ve also added a keyboardist, and i felt like they really needed to give him something to do during a lot of the earlier songs….even a tambourine would’ve been better than watching him stand around awkwardly. oh, and the crowd was MUCH bigger than i expected – i was worried the elixir was too large a venue, but that shows why i’m not a promoter i guess. we called it a night after an hour of their set, and mitch summed it up well when she said that she could think of worse ways to spend her night. nothing spectacular, but nothing bad either.

07 Feb 05

rob can be reached by dialling “rob”

i love this (thanks robin):

note that the phone number attachments simply read “ROB”. awesome.

ps. k-os posted to my blog? sorry danny michel, this is a new highlight…even though k-os hates me now.

Pronunciation: 'ch&mp
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps blend of chunk and lump
Date: 1883

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