Best In Show: Brand New @ Guelph Concert Theatre 3-Aug-2012
This was that night that I met Jesse Lacey. In the next few days I’ll release that interview (the first in 3 years with a North American outlet as far as I can tell), which I hope will shed some light on the truth and depth of Jesse and Brand New’s honest, genuine and humble nature. EDIT: the band have been doing interviews on this Canadian leg. Here’s one with Vue Weekly.
Aside from the interview, which I learned of just the morning of, I was set to attend the show in Guelph as a fan anyway. The second their first Canadian tour in three years was announced, greedy hands snatched all possible tickets up. I was lucky to get two.
It’s hard to detach the interview from the show but I’ll do my best. First off, the venue was a cool room with character and little-to-no air conditioning. With the heavy crowd the space was near stifling but it’s hard to complain when you understand how special a night can become with a band. Thankfully, all possibilities were met.
Openers An Horse and Cursive owned the crowd and stage. An Horse, a duo from Australia performed a short but memorable set of punchy, indie rock songs with Jesse Lacey filling in on base duties. The three on stage looked to be having fun, enjoying the appreciative crowd and holding nothing back. There’s was an energy rooted in heartfelt vocals and pure confidence on stage. Cursive hammered through a set of their unique but powerful brand of rock complete with jaunty time signatures, emphatic percussion and the always-appreciated live horns. Although I’m not a huge fan of their work it is hard not to respect the energy and quality of their songs.
When Brand New took to the stage it was with an air of accessibility. Some have described their presence on stage as detached but the time away and the general head space of the band seemed refreshing and excited. Solar temperatures mattered not to those in the crowd as the opening notes of “Millstone” led to deafening chorus chants from the crowd, all screaming “Woah-o-ooo” in unison.
With a healthy mix of songs from all four albums, the band anchored a memorable experience to every person in the room. Jesse’s voice sounded incredible live (as always), spanning the range from “Tautou” to “Vices” without falter.
Perhaps the most endearing aspect of the show was how much fun the band seemed to be having on stage. Smiles were shared regularly along with some Nirvana and Modest Mouse jams. They even made light of some broken equipment with some generous jam time.
Something that I haven’t ever really felt the full effect from before was lighting but something about the timing and colour of their use Friday night really stood out. It was almost another member of the band, an entity that was engaging and vivid.
This is the sixth time I’ve seen Brand New and something that has never waivered is their complete almost self-destructive performance energy. Jesse admitted that the closing songs might send him into unconsciousness but somehow found more to give to the crowd. Those that got set-lists after complained that although “Play Crack the Sky” and “Welcome to Bangkok” were there, they weren’t played but in all seriousness I could barely breathe or stand after the completely drenching and explosive ender that was “You Won’t Know”, the ending of which had Jesse laying on the stage still playing guitar near his fallen microphone.
There’s so much more to a live experience with Brand New but those things are coveted and treasured by those that lived them. To everyone in the Guelph Concert Theatre that night, kudos, and to the band that will forever be cherished by me and the other attendees that night, we thank you…we thank you exponentially.
Stay tuned for the article/interview with Jesse Lacey and some pictures from infront of the barrier later this week.
Best In Show: Japandroids @ Lee’s Palace 23-June-2012
Everything in this piece will be considered a severe injustice by those who participated in Saturday (June 23) night’s events at Lee’s Palace. There are no words to properly account for the amount of good will and pure exuberance that poured off the stage into the crowd.
At midnight Japandroids humbly walked on stage to roaring applause. Hundreds of empties already occupied ledges, tables and the front of the stage more would soon join. Fans and the band shared in a rousing and savage bash in recognition of Japandroids’ return to home soil and the thundering success of their new record Celebration Rock.
Opening with “The Boys Are Leaving Town” was both natural and explosive. You’ll quickly realize that the crowd is integral to a Japandroids show. As the show raged on limbs flailed hypnotically and bodies dove from the stage. As duos go, Brian King and David Prowse understand that experience is a priority and as part of it I can say it will be treasured by all who attended.
“It usually takes us a while to get going so forgive us for how those first two sounded,” King begged after crushing out a flawless performance of “Adrenaline Nightshift.” “I promise this one will rock,” he exclaimed as he ripped into the opening of “Young Us”.
Apologies were unnecessary, Brian! By the end of the night every single sweat drenched soul sported a grin twice the size it was before Brian King struck his first chord. The gents shared brief anecdotes about their current tour, money owed on failing guitars and getting bumped from late night to make room for Carly Rae Jepsen. And I’ll be the first to admit it…I’m baffled by how much charm Japandroids can infuse into a punk show. Every second felt like time spent with old friends living loud and free.
The show closed with their cover of “For the Love of Ivy” with King’s hair seemingly blowing back from the volume of his amps and Prowse’s kit left in a shambles. King’s pre-song promise to leave everything on the stage for the last song was upheld.
Lee’s Palace housed an energetic and unmatchable experience that will linger for years. As Japandroids inevitably move to larger venues I can assure you they will find a way to move every body to their noise and it will be complete punk bliss for all involved. Still, nothing will beat the urgent fun and powerful enthusiasm shared by everyone at Lee’s Saturday night. Kudos Japandroids!
I think The Rest would finally call the position they’re in “exciting”. An electronic crash seemingly sent all of their hard work on the upcoming album SEESAW into some Poltergeist-like nether-space. Thankfully a crew responsible for black box recoveries found the album and it is finally ready for release June 19. I’ve been covering this thing for a year now and I’ll have an article for you to soak up VERY soon in preparation for SEESAW. By the way, the album is absolutely striking (I got to hear it the other day and it begs for big space).
I want to go on and on about how hard these guys have worked and the merits of seven members and experimentation in today’s music but I’ll save it for the upcoming article. What should be noted is how many fans this band collects per show.
Last night The Rest opened for Eight And A Half (an inspired choice by the way) and completely unleashed their set list on the crowd. Layers upon layers of guitars, effects, percussion and sound morphed The Casbah into a new territory. Adam’s vocals completed mapped the spectrum and impressed newcomers. When The Rest were quiet they haunted every individual in the room and when they were loud they connected us. Perhaps the best compliment I can pay them is that last night felt fresh and pure. Considering I’ve seen them play the same set five or six times (as they tried to recover the lost album), that should speak heaps for their creativity and sound.
The Rest is a band that you bring friends to see. You buy them a ticket and you bring them along and when they say “wow” after the set’s done you’ll be proud to share this particular treasure from our hometown.
The Rest Bandcamp
Note: Just a little further praise for the sound man Steve. Meshing seven members isn’t easy but to my ears it was glorious.
Never miss the opener. Sometimes things come up and sometimes you’re just tunnel-visioned but never miss the opener. I was primarily there to see The Rest and Eight And A Half but arrived as always to see an opener I’d never listened to and they hooked me and my friends within seconds.
Illitry have overcome the first hurdle of this brand of electronic music; they completely engage the listener. Warmth comes from the thickness of their sound and the way they fill the space with tones and effects. Density can cause suffocation but Illitry are confident and spirited and that’s what keeps their wall of sound from crashing down.
Troy Witherow’s vocals are strong and have a weight that keeps the music from floating away. Add to that the meter-maxing kinetic energy that comes with his performance and you’ll be hard pressed to stand still. Chester Edington, the other half of Illitry, spreads gorgeous sheets of sound with guitar and keys supplying Witherow with a lush ether to apply his creations to.
I can’t speak for multiple performances but I’d make a hefty bet that a noticeable evolution occurs at each one. Illitry are a brazen band that attack their songs with a heartfelt ferocity. That kind of vitality will fuel their modest collection of songs for repeat show attendance until their set list grows. Click the link below to schedule these guys into your show rotation. Your body and soul will thank you for it.
Illitry Show Schedule
Note: The sound at The Casbah was the best I’ve heard it there and I’ve been to a number of shows at the venue. Kudos to the sound man.
Best In Show: Good Old War
20-Apr-2012 @ Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
All you need to do is hear Good Old War strike their first live note to realize the high affinity you’ve always had for them. I swear, these gents have mined into the very essence of self-expression and it feels so damn good.
The first time I caught them was in a smoky bar in Detroit opening for Anthony Green. Their debut album Only Way To Be Alone had just dropped and although I had only had it for a few days I sang along to every word of their set. Toronto on Friday night was much of the same with every voice in the crowd backing me.
With a healthy mix of tunes from their first two albums and the newly released Come Back As Rain, Good Old War made it fun to dance and sing about wrong doings, realizations and acceptance. Tracks like “Woody’s Hood Boogie Woogie” and “Amazing Eyes” struck particular chords hard but energetically.
Skill-wise, the trio are impeccable. Keith Goodwin’s vocals are smooth and pitch-perfect. The melodies created by Dan Schwartz and Tim Arnold are so levelled it makes singing along easy and rewarding. Schwartz is an absolute virtuoso on guitar soloing in different styles and guises all night long.
The set was packed with songs (19 or so) and etched smiles on every face in the crowd. Add to that some fun, 420 based stage banter and a rendition of “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” and you’ve got a show that peaks the fun meters while wedging in a couple lyrical heavy hitters on the way. Lastly, Horseshoe Tavern continued its fine record of great sound and a good crowd. Kudos Good Old War…come back soon.