DIANA and DUSTED with OMHOUSE and DWAYNE GRETZKY at the Drake, Tuesday, January 22. Rating: NNNN
When you're a well-respected member of Toronto's indie rock community, how do you celebrate your birthday? If you're Austra bassist Dorian Wolf (formerly a member of the now-defunct Spiral Beach) you throw a party at the Drake Hotel and invite two of Toronto's most promising new groups.
While the night was bookended by sets from locals Omhouse and Dwayne Gretzky, the majority of the audience were packed into the Elvis Monday showcase on a Tuesday to see Brian Borcherdt's new project Dusted and DIANA. Both bands started gaining attention last year, the former with their debut album Total Dust and the latter with a handful of songs on SoundCloud.
Best known for his work with electronic experimentalists Holy Fuck, Borcherdt is now partnered with producer Leon Taheny,allowing him to pursue making hazy, atmospheric music with a drum machine, fuzzed-out guitar feedback and string arrangements. Live, they sound more like four people than two, with Taheny on drums/sampler, and Borchedrt on guitar. None of the bands had a chance to soundcheck before the show, resulting in a shortened set for the duo ("I've cut out four bridges so far and we're playing one BPM faster" said the singer/guitarist at one point), but they still managed to prove why they're one to watch in 2013.
DIANA lead singer Carmen Elle also knows a thing about multi-tasking. While she can also be seen performing with Army Girls and Donlands and Mortimer, the 80s pop-indebted quartet has quickly eclipsed her other bands in terms of critical acclaim and popularity, thanks to their dancefloor-friendly mix of synths, bass, and filtered vocals.
Elle easily commanded the stage, shimmying back and forth and bantering with the crowd, introducing the breezy Born Again (which is now available as a physical 12-inch single with a remix from Montreal's Doldrums) by asking, "Do you like the internet? This is a song we put on the internet."
And while it might have been cold outside, Joseph Shabason's saxophone solos made it feel a few degrees warmer inside.