Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos tests out their new album Thursday at Lee’s Palace.
Thu, Dec 4
FRANZ FERDINAND with BORN RUFFIANS at Lee's Palace Rating: NNN
When Franz Ferdinand last played Toronto nearly three years ago, Alex Kapranos moaned something about Ricoh Coliseum's massive crowd being "so far away." Audience intimacy wasn't an issue when the stylish Scots slipped into Lee's for a rare engagement, previewing material from their January-slated record, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.
Kapranos looked a bit nervous playing new songs like croon-heavy Turn It On and propulsive first single Ulysses. Familiar tracks like This Fire, The Dark Of The Matinee or Take Me Out provided a rush of nostalgia; they sound handcuffed to another era despite being only four years old. How can good songs go out of date so fast?
The Strokes will tell you what it's like to go from knowing you're the coolest band everyone likes to being unsure where you fit amongst fast-changing music tastes. Franz are too talented to dismiss as done, and their shows, as Thursday proved, remain high-energy, but it's not unrealistic to assume those Ricoh days are gone and more settings like Lee's await.
BEAT SOURCE at the Silver Dollar Rating: NNNN
A full house turned out for the second monthly Beat Source showcase featuring Rich Kidd, Gigz, Fresh Kilz, Mantis, Big Pops, Buttafingaz, Fraction and ProLogic. But the highlight was Marco Polo and DJ Linx, who dropped bomb beat after bomb beat, mixing the old with the new, the known and the unknown.
Polo on his MPC and Linx on the turntables interestingly created a "Polo vs. Polo" beat battle that was entertaining if anti-climactic because the winner was obvious. As Big L's Put It On faded out, the crowd dispersed, satisfied by what will hopefully become a hip-hop tradition.
Fri, Dec 5
THE KING KHAN & BBQ SHOW at Lee's Palace Rating: NNN
Word was that King Khan and his longtime sidekick Mark "BBQ" Sultan had just finished their latest recording, so there was some anticipation that the soul-stompin' garage duo might unleash a thrillingly new sound. Although King Khan's showy stagewear looked promising (stretchy hot pants, silver veil, Cleopatra wig), and a few new frat pounders were thrown out during the course of their hour-long blast, the show was essentially Deja Voodoo all over again.
The fact that they both remained static while slashing at their guitars did little to sell their rhythmically and dynamically limited tunes. After inviting up a couple of non-dancers from the audience to shake their vintage flapper fringes as Max Danger of Deadly Snakes infamy slapped a tambourine in the background for an encore, King Khan turned about-face, mooned the audience and walked off with BBQ, neither of them having broken a sweat.
Sat, Dec 6
QUEST FOR FIRE at Sonic Boom Rating: NNN
Local stoner rock band Quest for Fire's afternoon set got off to a rocky start when their first tune broke down halfway through. In a wise move, they treated it as a sound check and left the stage for 10 minutes before starting the real show. Loosened up properly by then, they roared through a sludgy set of dirty psych metal, entertaining a crowd that spanned a surprisingly large age range.
Former Deadly Snakes drummer Andrew "Gunn" Moszynski turns out to be a surprisingly creative lead guitarist, and the band brought some math rock intricacy to their fuzzed-out blues riffs. They could make their shows more accessible by trading the hair-in-the-face shoegazing for a crazed frontman prowling the stage, but it's debatable whether they'd actually want that.
BOX OF KITTENS at a secret location Rating: NNNN
The Box Of Kittens parties started out as semi-private loft jams but have grown into something much more substantial over the last year, as this event proved. Sure, they're still promoted by word of mouth and you need to RSVP to get in (helps keep out the riff-raff, y'know), but this two-room throwdown featuring Detroit/Berlin producer/DJ Seth Troxler playing his first-ever Toronto set was definitely on a larger scale, without any loss of the original parties' appeal.
Troxler has had a great year on the production front, and his profile was recently raised by his inclusion on Matthew Dear's newest Body Language DJ mix CD. What comes out more in the live setting is the odd space he occupies between icy minimal techno and warm soulful house. It went over like a charm with the late-night crowd.