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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 last.fm), 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.]

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

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