DIANA at the Art Gallery of Ontario, November 1. Rating: NNN
DIANA brings together the who-got-next of Toronto indie rock for a dusky, highbrow pop project. Elle, Joseph Shabason, Kieran Adams and Paul Mathew twist easy-on-the-ears '80s pop tropes - processed eccentric grooves, filtered vocals, high-drama drums and, of course, a saxophone - through a modern Insta-faded sensibility in their singles Born Again and Perpetual Surrender.
Last night was the first of two official coming-out shows for the band (they'll also play Fucked Up's Long Winter series next Friday at The Great Hall) since releasing those singles this summer. The packed art gallery atrium made for an elegant setting, though it did no favours for the sound, which was muddied and plagued with feedback.
Still, as evinced by Elle, who warbled fist-raised at points, DIANA pushed through a 40-minute set making a good case for their collective strength as performers and songwriters. Elle's performance on those ballads was a beautiful thing. Towards the end the band loosened up, shrugging off the tension of those logistical faults and siphoning all that extraneous sound into something more spontaneous and fun: making art out of a bougie art gallery gig.