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Archive for August, 2006

28 Aug 06

harbourfront’s indie unlimited

i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again: the harbourfront centre has some pretty great free summer programming. on canada day they brought us the dears and jason collett, for the “from the peg” festival they offered the weakerthans and waking eyes. this past saturday was the first night of the “indie unlimited” festival, and it didn’t disappoint.

while i missed the afternoon of amy millan and great lake swimmers, i arrived in time to catch the best hidden cameras performance i’ve ever seen. it should be noted that i was never lucky enough to catch one of their infamous church shows, but each of the 4 i’ve seen have been progressively more enjoyable. saturday’s performance was technically the cd release for their new album, awoo, so they proceeded to play each of the songs from the album. what made it extra fun was the addition of a couple of violinists and a cellist, not to mention laura barrett and her kalimba…as well as the other usual 6 or 7 people. they (obviously) had a very full sound and a lot of energy, and it was super fun. i have to say though, for a guy who puts on crazy shows, joel gibb looks like one serious guy.

after that set ended, we headed over to the brigandine room at harbourfront for a couple of over the top sets. before the bands, i was enjoying the dj’s picks – a band who sounded like north of america, followed by the inbreds? not bad. too bad this didn’t last…

torngat went on first and, as always, were fabulous. if you’re not familiar, torngat are guys from quebec who play keys, drums and french horn (complete with various pedals)…and occasionally a melodica and trumpet. i do have to say that i prefer it when they stick to more conventional song structures – they lose me a little when they get too experimental – but i did enjoy it when the two guys circled the crowd and played their french horn and trumpet from opposite ends of the crowd.

after torngat was finished, the dj had another chance to impress me. she got off to a good start by playing some motown, but then went downhill fast. i have no idea why, but she spent the next 20 minutes changing tempo, making the cd sound like it was skipping, and randomly pausing tracks in the middle. i have no idea what she was thinking, but she should just stick to playing her good music.

they shoot horses don’t they couldn’t come on fast enough. i was really looking forward to seeing them – i’ve listened to their album more than just about anything over the past 6 months (except tokyo police club, final fantasy and tapes n tapes, according to, so my expectations were pretty high. sadly, and this may sound awful, but they seem to be a band better heard than seen. on the plus side: the keyboard player was almost exuberant, and they actually DID sound pretty good. on the down side: i wasn’t quite as keen on their new songs (and 4 of the first 6 songs were new to me), and i felt like they went a bit too far to be considered avant garde, or just plain weird. for example, the trombonist spent half his time sitting on the floor playing “instruments” including: a broken crutch, a broken network router, a dented metal watering can, and a rope attached to a badminton birdie and random pieces of metal. note that “playing” these “instruments” meant slamming them against the floor. he also had a dirty rag wrapped around his bare foot, probably indicating that he’d stepped on one of these instruments at some point. we left after 6 songs, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the night over all.

but that’s not all…sunday afternoon offered more fun. the hylozoists went on at 3, but unfortunately we missed the first 25 minutes. the 20 minutes or so i saw were pretty great, however. they too added a few more musicians to make a fuller sound, adding to the vibraphoney fun. and bell orchestre capped the weekend with a typically equal parts soothing and exciting set. wow they’re crazy talented.

anyway, how good is that programming? and it cost me nothing. go harbourfront.

[note: thanks to _candice_ for the they shoot horses photo, and to rockpaperpixels for the hidden cameras pic.]

28 Aug 06

bye bye deadly snakes

you know, i wish that the deadly snakes’ last ever show on friday night at the horseshoe was actually their last show, so i could say “i was at the deadly snakes’ last concert”, as is written on andre ethier’s t-shirt. but nooooo, they had to go and ruin it and play a “surprise” show at the silver dollar on saturday night.

but really, that’s my only complaint about the night…friday’s show would’ve been a pretty great last hurrah for any band. the snakes played 2 sets spanning about 3 hours, and encompassing just about every release they’ve ever had, including a number of gems from porcella and ode to joy, as well as a lot of oldies and rarities from 7″s and b-sides. the first set was solid, but the second set was pretty amazing. high energy, tight, and fun.

and really, it’s not so bad to be able to say that i was at the deadly snakes 2nd to last concert…just like i can say that i was at sloan’s last concert ever (for a couple of years anyway).

[note: photo courtesy of miss door]

20 Aug 06

the bicycles finally release a cd

the bicycles know how to release a cd.

last night at the tranzac marked the release of the good, the bad and the cuddly, an album apparently 4 years in the making. opening the show was laura barrett, who is, as anne described, equal parts joanna newsom and bjork. she’s constantly raved about on stillepost (although that means very little to me), and for once, i agreed with the masses. according to her myspace page, she plays “the kalimba and piano-esque things”, so now i have a name for what she was playing. i enjoy anyone who sings about robot ponies and predicting the future. fun stuff.

the bicycles themselves played a 2+ hour set, with a zillion special guests joining them on stage. they mixed bicycles songs with those of their guests, and were a whirlwind of instrument changes, with only a few stumbles along the way. i enjoyed the bicycles’ original songs (although i’d only ever heard 3 of them beforehand), but i confess that the highlights for me were when they acted as their guests’ backing bands – gentleman reg, jay from the meligrove band, steve from the constantines, jose from by divine right, ohbijou, dan bryk, the adorables, catriona from plumtree, and a bunch of other people i didn’t recognize all contributed to the fun. i also saw sebastien grainger in the crowd (late of dfa1979), but sadly, he did not take the stage. i can only imagine how the bubblegum pop of the bicycles would have combined with dfa. i sadly missed the end, so i am left wondering whether jay ferguson of sloan ever took the stage…

[thanks to thecjm for the bicycles pic from last night’s show. be sure to check out the rest of their photos, including those of the bicycles’ cardboard likenesses.]

18 Aug 06

wolfe island music festival 2006

the problem with going on vacation is that the wolfe island music fest is now old news…but of course, i’m going to write about it anyway, belatedly. last year’s line up was pretty fantastic, but virginia really outdid herself this year.

we arrived halfway through fat robot’s set. i’d heard of them via mitch because they seem to have taken the place of the radical dudez as kingston’s all-purpose local opener, and they were pretty enjoyable. they also took a page out of the dudez’ book by outfitting many of their friends with “fat robot concert team” t-shirts. nice touch.

the fembots inexplicably went on second. their set was predictably solid, especially once the vibraphone became audible. sadly, they were pretty much alone up on stage since no one was hanging out in the dirt pit (or, more accurately, the softball diamond’s infield) that the stage encroached upon. they didn’t seem too bothered by this, even joking that no one wants to sit in dirt.

great lake swimmers went on next, and were pretty much what i expected having listened to their albums. they’re talented and good song writers, but they’re best as background music for me – quiet and relaxed, featuring an acoustic guitar, banjo and drums. a standout was i will never see the sun (pointed out to me a couple weeks ago by robin), whose chorus of “i will never see the sun/spadina, st. george, bay and yonge” was apparently inspired by the singer’s subway trip to his old job.

next up, with the longest allocated set time of the day, was the chris brown all star band. i have NO idea how they went on after fembots and great lake swimmers, nor do i know how they were allocated a full hour, but like i said last year, they are unbelievably boring. at least last time i was able to say that they had “interesting outfits”…but not so this year. i just don’t get why they were even on this otherwise amazing bill…

jon-rae and the river are a band that everyone raves about, so, in spite of the fact that they nearly lulled me to sleep when i last saw them, i really wanted to like them. honestly though, i just couldn’t get past their female vocalist. i think i MIGHT like them better without her, but i really, i’m just not into the gospelish thing. i guess i’m the one person in toronto who feels this way.

holy fuck went on at 8 pm, and i commented initially that it’s too bad they went on so early – they are better suited to playing in the dark, bathed in red light. as the sun went down, the atmosphere improved, and they put on the best set i’ve seen from them. they had a bassist and even a cellist on a few songs, and they were pretty fantastic. high energy and engaging, which is pretty rare without much banter and with no vocals.

aside from the constantines (obviously), the hidden cameras stole the night. they had the crowd in their back pocket from the start, and played a much more interesting set than the last time i saw them. they played a lot of songs from their new album once again, but they were a lot of fun. it made me wonder why they weren’t on just before the constantines…

but that honour instead went to wintersleep. my impression of them ahead of time was a mid 90s pseudo-grunge throwback, but not in a creed/nickelback sorta way. i still sort of think that’s the case, but i did enjoy much of their set…that is, until it degenerated into a big long jamfest over the last 3 songs. nothing to write home about, but enjoyable. again though, i still don’t understand why they went on second to last. i kept looking at my watch as time went on, because i knew the longer they went, the less of the cons i’d get to see.

finally, the constantines took the stage about 15 minutes late. their set got off to a bit of a rough start sound-wise (i.e., all i could hear were deafening keyboards), but the energy of the set made that acceptable. they tore through songs from each of their albums and totally wowed the crowd, and even though i’ve seen them a bunch of times, i was still impressed. sadly, because they went on late, i had to leave during soon enough to catch the midnight ferry (rather than hanging out until 1:20 am in the freezingness). shamefully, i missed nighttime/anytime and shine a light. alas, 35 minutes of the cons is still better than an hour of most other bands. and while i’m on the subject, how on earth did tournament of hearts get overlooked in the polaris nominations? i’m just saying…

anyway, let’s summarize:
wolfe island lineup – amazing
wolfe island lineup order – questionable
weather – FREEZING (yes, still cold in jeans + shoes and socks + jacket)

[thanks, as always, to the fabulous suckingalemon for the photo].

11 Aug 06

photo roundup

making a rare trip east of yonge street (gasp!) led to a wealth of new photos for sharing:

you know it’s a classy restaurant if their only sign is a giant nose:

another sign of a classy restaurant – if their main claim to fame is westerns:

hey look…it’s the real degrassi street!

the latest in a series of misplaced apostrophes in permanent signs…i bring you queen fine food’s:

you have to wonder how many years they’ve used the same sign…it reminds me of the old sign in peterborough advertising the peterborough exhibition, except way way crappier:

in addition to those queen east photos, i have two from the village on the grange on dundas west:

“all” you can eat. does that mean you have to leave hungry?

for some reason, “vecation” in my brain feels like a cross between vacation (or MAYBE vegetarian) and feces…i don’t know what that says about me:

08 Aug 06


at long last…my prayers (ahem) have been answered:

04 Aug 06

working full time

my favourite video of the moment, (ok go aside), is the new constantines video for working full time. picture the white stripes’ fell in love with a girl (but with rocks instead of lego) combined with a peek through the polka dot door.

04 Aug 06

questionable celeb sightings

in the past 2 days, i’ve seen the following “celebs” in toronto:
-ian mcgettigan (of thrush hermit, camouflage nights, etc.) sharing a bike with someone on argyle
-karen hines (of the newsroom, coincidentally a night after watching the escape from the newsroom movie on, of all places, showcase diva) walking down yonge
-cito gaston (ex-manager of the blue jays) at queen and john

or how about a couple weeks ago when we saw the following people at the drake?
-k-os (no description necessary)
-hugh dillon (formerly of headstones, most recently of the hugh dillon redemption choir, chewing gum like mad)
-craig f. halket (formerly of combat des clips on much music; currently much’s senior music programmer)

i don’t know how many places in toronto you can see that strange a mix of people in one place.

and yes, i know, i’m stretching the definition of “celebrity” with this list, but would you expect anything less?

01 Aug 06

from the peg

you’ve gotta hand it to the harbourfront centre for putting together a fantastic lineup of free shows this summer – and what’s better than a free show? on canada day, the dears put on a great show, featuring a number of songs from their new album (not to mention jason collett putting on a solid show in the opening slot).

on saturday night was the “from the peg” lineup, featuring the weakerthans and the waking eyes. i’d never seen the waking eyes before, but i was impressed with their high energy set during a spontaneous rainstorm. they were super catchy and fun to watch, with some pretty fun banter as a bonus. the only negative thing i can say is that they could use a little work on their continuity: song, break, song, break, etc. can be improved on. but otherwise, a worthwhile show. yes, totally catchy.

the weakerthans put on a much better show than the last time i saw them – their show was fun, high energy and engaging, and the band played everything i was hoping for. after they’d ripped through one great city, our retired explorer and watermark as their first three songs, i knew it was going to be a fun night. new songs mixed with songs from all of their albums = a good time.

still to come at harbourfront? great lake swimmers, amy millan, hidden cameras, torngat, they shoot horses don’t th ey, belle orchestre and hylozoists, all in the span of two days. good lord.

[oh, and thanks to the ever popular chromewaves for the photo.]

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

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