BETA FRONTIERS, PRINCE INNOCENCE and BOY BITCH at Play, Thursday, January 17. Rating: NNNN
Since ending its weekly series at the Garrison three years ago, Wavelength has made an art out of seeking out outside-the-box venues and tailoring one-off events to suit them. Last night, Wavelength teamed with another former weekly, dark dance series Silent Shout, at an unlikely location: Play, the infant nightclub on the first floor of Wicked, likely Toronto's best known sex club.
Clothing at Play is slightly less optional than its upstairs neighbour and it doesn't boast nearly as exhaustive a set of rules, but it carries a totally different vibe than your average indie rock venue. It's not often local bands get to play in a bar covered in chandeliers, opulent white curtains, padded ceilings, naked mannequins on the walls, spotlights, catwalks and banquette seating.
(It's also not often their fans will pay 8 dollars for a beer and get only toonies in change, but that seems to be the price of holding it at such a spot.)
That created the odd visual of the night's opener, Boy Bitch, singing Euro flavoured electro-pop while two dancers vogued up and down the catwalk in front of a handful of casual plaid-clad sippers, many of whom barely flinched as they were pelted with glowsticks.
The venue filled out and livened in the break between sets, stretched out interminably by delays. Unfortunately, Blank Capsule couldn't get over their technical difficulties and had to cancel their performance, but Prince Innocence picked up the slack.
We'd noticed the act hadn't quite gelled in past shows, but maybe they just hadn't found the right venue. Play suited the icy synth-pop duo perfectly. Josh McIntyre stood back on the stage and played keys and electronics, while singer Talvi Faustmann stood forward on the catwalk, looking strikingly statuesque in high heels, a vinyl jacket and red tights. Looking less nervous onstage with every performance, Faustmann seems to finally be taking to her role as front-person.
Beta Frontiers finished the night with a brighter set of fuzzy sci-fi dance music that fell somewhere between Air, Justice and Daft Punk (so, basically any French duo). The two did a lot of knob-twiddling and not much talking, but the live neon, vintage-looking projections (including one of a penis playing a glockenspiel) lent the act some visual allure.