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Archive for November, 2006

26 Nov 06

starling reborn as the hundreds and thousands

back on may 20, 1998 (or so my show list would have me believe), i went to see a matthew good band show at the bar formerly known as aj’s hangar in kingston. mgb were known for a few really great radio friendly songs, as well as a boring live show (or so i discovered later). anyway, while the matt good performance was profoundly forgettable, the opening band was among the best i’ve ever seen, in the category of thrush hermit, camouflage nights and maybe even the ladies and gentlemen as far as wow-worthy and surprising opening bands go. the band in question were called starling, and they were among the best bands you’ve never heard of, and are now featured in those new government of ontario ads.

i saw starling play a few shows over the years – once in ottawa with the carnations and a band robin dubbed shitbucket (actually called wishpocket), and once at clark hall pub in kingston with another forgettable band called flood. this last performance was an exciting one – we talked to the band after the show, and they seemed positive about the prospect of their 2nd (or 3rd, depending how technical you want to get) album, stuff you should have said before, getting wide release and thus propelling them forward. they assured us that we’d be seeing them in kingston again soon after they’d geared up for a big tour. that was back in late 2002, and i haven’t heard anything from them since, much to my friend cindy’s chagrine. sure, there’s a band called the supers, featuring maury lafoy (and sometimes ian lefeuvre) of starling, and sure, ian has produced andy stochansky’s album, but it just hasn’t been the same.

fast forward to friday night’s small sins show at the horseshoe. the openers were called the hundreds and thousands, and i had heard that that was the name of ian lefeuvre (of starling)’s new project. what i didn’t know until friday night was that the hundreds and thousands ARE starling with a new name, a more drum-driven and rock-er sound, and some really amazing new songs. they played a 45 minute-ish set with songs rivalling anything they did under the starling monicker, so i’m very excited to hear a recording – if they don’t disappear again. i can’t imagine a better surprise. i thought it was pretty cool of small sins to invite them to open their show toronto, given their history. small sins’ singer, thom darcy, used to be in a band called the carnations (the same ones who opened for starling a few years earlier), and who used to feature ian lefeuvre on drums. i guess it’s a bit of a role reversal, now that small sins are experiencing some success of their own. anyway, now that i’m done my canrock geeking, i strongly encourage you to check out their myspace page, where a new song called rat race is currently featured. it’s a good one, but it’s not even their best.

the hundreds and thousands weren’t the only band on the bill, however, so i should probably discuss the other two bands. up second were a band from california called the little ones who played some pop songs with varying degrees of catchiness. some were quite good (after the first song, for instance, i was wondering if i was going to enjoy the best 3 band bill since…arcade fire + final fantasy + wolf parade? sloan + hHead + thrush hermit?) unfortunately, they weren’t all gems, and the crowd really didn’t seem too into them. i did enjoy the lead singer’s guitar stance, straight out of that thing you do, and their finale was a spectacle, involving all of small sins leaping on stage to participate. oh, and one really drunk guy who assumed that he too was welcome on stage, stole the keyboardist’s tambourine, and proceeded to remove his pants. thankfully, i didn’t have a good view of this, and he was escorted off stage and cut off (only to come and sit beside us and have his buddy buy him more beer, ’cause that’s what he needed). anyway, the little ones were enjoyable, but not particularly memorable.

finally came small sins, the band formerly known as the ladies and gentlemen. the first time i saw them was about 2 years ago, opening for the salteens. i’d never heard of them (and was surprised to see thom darcy fronting a new band), but we were treated to a fantastic performance in spite of the obvious nervousness and inexperience of much of the band. the 2nd time i saw them was just about as enjoyable, but was sullied slightly by a marathon 4 band bill. friday night’s show was another story. this was the first time we’d seen them since they’d renamed themselves as the small sins, and i felt like i was watching a subpar ladies and gentlemen cover band. gone were the all-white suits, and the band seems to have changed at least a couple of members (and now includes brent of the salteens on drums)…although they have thankfully kept the guy on “lead handclaps and lasers”. most shockingly, however, is thom darcy’s new vocal choice – the whispery falsetto that endeared himself to me is gone, and has been replaced by what anne described as karaokeish. the set opened with two new songs, and i was a bit surprised at the vocal turn, but thought they might be trying something new on new songs. but no, once they launched into songs from the small sins album, the new lower voice remained. was it the label’s choice? could thom not sustain the falsetto over time? or maybe he just likes the new sound better? regardless, it seems to be working for them – word was that they sold out the mercury lounge in nyc last week, although the horseshoe was anything but packed. we left at the beginning of the last song (after about a 40 minute set by my watch) and i think that’s the last time i’ll be going to a small sins show.

it’s lucky the hundreds and thousands opened that show and wowed the hell out of me, or i would’ve had a terribly disappointing night.

[photo courtesy of beef_taco_supreme. it’s actually of the mercury lounge show last week, but it’s the best i could do. and i had to spotlight the hand clapper, cause he’s my favourite.]

21 Nov 06

“best” election pamphlet ever

i recognize that i’m several weeks late in posting this (since the toronto municipal election has long been settled), but i couldn’t NOT share the most bizarre election pamphlet i’ve ever seen with the world.

front and back:


honestly, it’s pretty shocking to me that jim mcmillan scraped together 292 votes to finish 3rd. i wonder lloyd ferguson feels about finishing behind a guy whose slogan seems to be your lungs – your city * “your money”. is that some kind of equation?

a couple more questions spring to mind:

  • why is jane pitfield’s photo much larger than jim’s?
  • why exactly is a page of “helpful” phone numbers included in an election pamphlet?
  • why is “veterans’ affairs” included in a list of phone numbers for “people on the go”?
  • what exactly is wrong with city hall underground parking? is he proposing that the lot be filled in?

i could of course go on, but i think i’ve been mean enough. i don’t want this to turn into another incident.

06 Nov 06

death cab for boring, part 2

i know, i’m a week late, but who’s counting?

on halloween night, death cab cutie played massey hall, with ted leo along for the ride. my last (and only other) death cab experience was less than satisfactory, but i was hoping that a sit down venue would be more appropriate for their brand of mid-tempo OC-rock. i was right – the show was less annoying than the kool haus show, but it wasn’t my favourite.

ted leo and the pharmacists opened the show to a mostly ambivalent crowd (consisting of mostly mid-teens), and they didn’t play long enough in my opinion. at least they played the high party (by request no less), but sadly there was no cover of since you’ve been gone.

a few notes about the death cab performance:

  • as i mentioned after the koolhaus show, ben gibbard has a guitar cable tossing obsession. so what did he do for this show? he hired someone whose job it was to pull the cable out of his way for him. yup.
  • they pulled out company calls off of we have the facts and we’re voting yes, which made me happy (although i got the feeling that most of the people had never heard it before)
  • what was up with the overwrought faux angst ben gibbard had on display? twice he threw his mike stand, and once he threw his guitar. maybe they were trying to make up for the non-rocking-ness of the performance by ACTING like rock stars?
  • i don’t usually complain about this kind of thing, by i really do wish he’d sung transatlanticism like he did on the album. the “i need you so much…closer” cadence was just too off for me.
  • their encore was the clear highlight of the show: since it was halloween, they came out dressed like devo (pictured), and tore through four devo tracks, which was amazing. i’m not sure how many of the 15 year olds knew who devo was though… what was especially amazing about this portion of the show was that ben somehow managed to stop his awful ingrained “dancing” for 4 songs, and instead managed to mimic devo’s robotic moves. that was a nice break.
  • mostly, however, they were boring, and certainly not worth the money they’re charging these days. zzzz.

ah, i’m such an elitist…but really, they were BORING.

[thanks to i_saw_sparks for the devo-tastic image].

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

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