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Savages at Horseshoe Tavern, Friday, March 22. Rating: NNNN
Just in time for the latest iteration of British austerity, the foreboding sounds and sneering attitude of 1980s European post-punk has returned in the form of London-based band Savages. The primordial energy of their live show packs such a precise and intense wallop, calling them out as derivative feels pointless; they look and sound like the real thing.
During the quartet's hotly buzzed about Canadian debut singer Jehnny Beth stalked around the stage in bright red kitten heels and glared fearlessly at the audience with a wide-eyed intensity. A submissive crowd packed with music industry types stared right back, content to be pummeled under a battery of percussion, razor-sharp guitar playing and scuzzy, angular bass. Gloriously intimidating. KR
Ron Sexsmith at Randolph Theatre, Friday March 22. Rating NNNN
It must be something to be charting in the UK but be relatively un-harassed when you go to the grocery store in your hometown. Such is the situation for local songwriter Ron Sexsmith, who jokingly referred to Randolph Theatre (capacity: 500ish) as a miniature Royal Albert Hall -where his band recently played in London.
During a tight and heartfelt career-spanning set that picked up momentum as it went, Sexsmith and his band played a bunch of songs off his recent album Forever Endeavour, as well as older tunes like Strawberry Blonde and Secret Heart. The new songs were great, especially Sneak Out The Back Door, Snake Road and Me Myself And Wine. SG
This Is Head, at the Garrison, Friday, March 22. Rating: NNN
There's a lot of bands from Nordic countries at CMW this year, including Swedish atmospheric pop band This Is Head, who are playing several gigs around town this week. Their most recent record, The Album ID, features lots of intricate layers and textures, which they managed to recreate fairly accurately live. However, at loud rock club volume levels, much of the detail got smeared together into a wall of sound. This made for more of a shoegazer-type experience, which is fine, but doesn't quite capture the quirky pop appeal of the recordings. BB
Tyler, The Creator at the Opera House, Friday, March 22 Rating: NN
Has Tyler, The Creator run out of ideas? Now that we're no longer shocked by his antics, Frank Ocean is performing at the Grammys, and Earl Sweatshirt (Odd Future's most talented rapper) is getting ready to release a new album, Tyler is suddenly playing second fiddle. From his choice of hype-men (Jasper Dolphin and Taco, two of the L.A. group's more expendable members) to the gazebo stage setup, everything about his all-ages Opera House show felt hastily planned. While he premiered a few new songs from his upcoming third album, Wolf, they were unmemorable and lacked the energy of fan favourites like French! and Yonkers. He's still able to get the kids riled up like few others (hence the security guard standing on the bar keeping an eye on the crowd), and there's plenty of time for the not-so-old wolf to learn some new tricks, but it's up to Tyler to decide that he wants to. MM
A Place To Bury Strangers at the Garrison, Friday, March 22. Rating: NNNN
At CMW "limited wristbands" generally means "if you haven't bought a ticket for that specific show then you're probably out of luck." So good news for fans who wanted to see New York noise rockers A Place To Bury Strangers without shelling out the money to see them open for Coheed & Cambria at the Opera House, they were announced as the last-minute "special guest" at the Garrison. Hopefully that was enough notice for everyone to procure a good pair of earplugs, because the band's already deafening wall of sound attack was just heightened in one of the loudest rooms in the city. Fog machines, strobe lights and piles of effects pedals can come off like gimmicks, but they all aided APTBS's primary spectacle: extreme volume. RT