Eclectic Indies

Wavelength festival's underground sound stays fresh

performing as part of Wavelength
at Clinton’s, February 8. Tickets: pwyc.
Attendance: 180. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN

wavelength, toronto’s indiemusic zine/Web site/weekly concert series, knows variety. Take Friday night’s show at Clinton’s. In the space of less than three hours, the crowd was treated to squelchy electronica, dreamy drone-rock and gleefully infantile punk.

I Am Robot and Proud’s Shaw-Han Liem was adorable, sitting splay-legged centre-stage while he spun gorgeous, ambient bloopy loungescapes that sounded like groovy baby aliens playing with squeaky toys and electric trains on Mars. Unfortunately, his near-invisibility onstage meant the music became more aural wallpaper than performance.

Ottawa’s Kepler, the band who bill themselves as music for slow dancing minus the dancing, came on and shocked the left-leaning crowd by announcing that Wavelength organizer Duncan MacDonell was once a member of the Young PC party.

Then they launched into a mellow set of shimmering slowcore waltzes. Singer Samir Khan mesmerized with vibrato-heavy bass runs and low, sweetly muttered vocals while guitarist Jon Georgekish-Watt infused the few tunes he sang on with some quaint country twang.

Then the vibe did a total 180 with the arrival of local pranksters Slutarded. Like NYC hell-raisers the Moldy Peaches, the band mixes puerile, non sequitur lyrics with punk-pop riffs.

You gotta love a group whose lead singer wears cat’s-eye specs and a red terrycloth robe over skimpy lingerie and reads lyrics scrawled on the palm of her hand. J-Ho’s bandmates were also clad in PJ variations, including local keyboard wiz Bob Wiseman, who blasted Farfisa licks in cute plaid flannel jammies.

They capitalized on the ballpark beauty of the organ to carry their goofy chant-along anthems, opening with a pep-squad-style F-word cheer before barrelling ahead into tunes with lyrics like, “El Fucko, you sucko.”

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Half the audience decided to make a hurried exit a couple of songs into the set.

No biggie — you can’t please all the people all the time, right? But with so many different bands, the Wavelength posse makes most folks happy almost all the time.

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