the fembots successfully converted the royal theatre on college street into a fun performance space on saturday night. they put together a show to celebrate the good and the not so good about toronto, to go hand in hand with their latest cd the city, and featured performances by andre ethier, the singing saw shadow show and, of course, the fembots themselves. as a fun touch, between sets they played a slide show of many photos of the city (including the cursed santa hat man, aka zanta). the slide show was particularly fun, and allowed anne and i to play “where in toronto is that?” i discovered that i’m only good at identifying landmarks on queen and bloor. sad.
andre ethier went on at about 8 to a relatively sparse crowd that filled up gradually as the night went on. for once, he didn’t bring along christopher sandes for support, but he played a strong acoustic set that was a mix of songs from his solo album, some new songs, as well as a deadly snakes track for good measure. pretty fun stuff. i always enjoy andre’s sets.
the singing saw shadow show really weren’t my thing. picture this: 8 or so musicians on a make-shift stage hidden behind a sheet stretched across the stage (think shadowy men on a shadowy planet), many of them wearing horse head masks or the like, illuminated by an overhead projector that was displaying various colours and shapes while a digital projector displayed random images on the movie screen above their heads. oh, and many of the members of the band played saws. now, none of what i’ve said so far has necessarily been bad…but wow, the free form “song structure” was definitely bizarre, and i really couldn’t get into the chanting/howling vocal contributions. the audience often didn’t know to react, or even when to applaud. it was something alright.
the fembots, however, turned things around with the best set i’ve ever seen from them. they played a mostly up tempo set containing (obviously) many songs from their new album, and they invited several guests along for the ride. at various points in the show, they invited 4 additional vocalists to the stage (including kate maki) as the fembots family singers, and they also included 2 saxes, a trumpet, and an extra percussionist for some songs. while they played, they had a slide show projected on the screen above them of historical images of toronto provided by murmur, which would have been even cooler if they had been at an appropriate resolution for the projector. alas, that’s a minor quibble. very fun stuff.
oh, and i can’t forget to mention how great the royal’s seats are – they have full recliney/bouncy action! i’m gonna have to actually watch a movie there at some point.