TRADITION , SING THAT YELL THAT SPELL, DD/MM/YYYY, PEOPLE and DEEP DARK UNITED at the Tranzac Club, July 20. Tickets: $8. Attendance: 35. Rating: NNN
Without any real, virulent sar casm, I can honestly say thank god for places like the Tranzac . It's ideal for live shows, and while they may not all be amazing, the draw lies in the promise of attending a beautifully intimate performance that's the polar opposite of the weird, pedestrian vibe you find at the Kool Hauses and ACCs of the world.
Even if the show is hit-and-miss, you're still part of something unique and often undiscovered precisely what happened last Thursday.
Toronto's DD/MM/YYYY were by far the night's high point, with mathy tempo changes and endearing vocals shared by all four members but most energetically delivered by guitarist Tomas Del Balso as he dropped to his knees like an indie rock James Brown.
Live, the band demonstrates a flair for the dramatic, tempered by healthy doses of irreverence. (After asking, "So you think you know suffering?" in their first tune, they sang about hanging out with Tara Reid.)
Opener Tradition , a local one-man deal who sat cross-legged on the stage with an acoustic guitar, was about as genuine as they come. All bare-bones emotional delivery, he offered quavering laments like "I love you" above light strumming.
Tradition aside, the night was about post-rock in all its incarnations. Easily the evening's most technically proficient band, Sing That Yell That Spell confidently lurched through start-stop rhythms, various elements of free jazz and forays into noise.
Then things fell apart.
Brooklyn's People , a duo consisting of guitarist/vocalist Mary Halvorson and sloppy drummer Kevin Shea , played an inexplicably repetitive set of songs with no dynamic range. Shea spazzed out on the drums, making noise for the sake of noise, while Halvorson daintily strummed and intentionally sang off-key. Plenty of outsider music is rewarding and praiseworthy, but what People did was just obnoxious and self-indulgent.
Thankfully, Deep Dark United reined things in, closing with a much more sedate vibe due in part to their decision to perform on the floor instead of the stage. Slightly progressive, a bit jazzy and haunting, DDU proved why they're considered one of Toronto's finest.