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Deadmau5 at the Rogers Centre, Saturday, November 5
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DEADMAU5 at Rogers Centre, Saturday, November 5. Rating: NNNN
Five years ago, the 10,000-person raves of the late 90s were already a distant memory, and it looked like dance music was failing to capture the imagination of 20-somethings. But those who predicted the end of the party era are now cleaning the egg off our faces after seeing 20,000 kids party their asses off to Canadian electro superstar Deadmau5 last week. He's made history for throwing the biggest rave in Toronto and for being the first Canuck to headline its largest venue.
Yes, Deadmau5's take on club beats is cheesier and more mainstream than we usually go for, but you can't call his sound derivative. His trademark combination of trance, techno, dubstep, house, breaks and electro is a style he built himself that's now widely imitated. The live show was particularly impressive, with innovative use of lighting and set design and surprisingly good sound - a far better experience than that offered by the trance superstars of yore.
SBTRKT with ARAABMUZIK at the Hoxton, Thursday, November 3. Rating: NNN
A Drake cameo and, of course, a solid self-titled debut album have had lasting results for British producer SBTRKT. His show at the Hoxton was so hyped, scalpers were unloading at the corner of King and Bathurst.
A thick crowd gathered for AraabMUZIK, who came up turning out siege-style beats for Dipset. Araab opened with the lithe, trancey Streetz Tonight from his beautifully complex Electronic Dream record. Going hard on two MPC samplers, he strayed heavily into wobble, satisfying the dubstep enthusiasts. The unusual but well-received performance saw fans awkwardly finger-waggling (air-MPCing?) along to the music.
SBTRKT and singer/collaborator Sampha stepped onstage wearing face-obscuring masks. Starting with resonant Something Goes Right, they managed to maintain momentum despite a 10-minute break to resolve technical issues. Acoustic drums give SBTRKT's show a performative edge, and the bodies dancing to Trials Of The Past, blowout single Wildfire and the deep bop of Pharaohs - all featuring incredible vocalists - suggest that SBTRKT's making some of the year's best dance-pop.
BEAUTIFUL NOISE AND THE SADIES ROCK & ROLL REVUE as part of the SLEEPWALK GUITAR FESTIVAL at the Great Hall, Saturday, November 5. Rating: NNNN
The Great Hall on a November afternoon is a chilly, sleepy place, but the motley crew of musicians who made up the inaugural Sleepwalk Guitar Festival's laid-back Beautiful Noise "workshop" got things toasty and lively.
Television's Richard Lloyd took centre stage and led a set of half a dozen improvised soundscapes that sometimes rocked, sometimes grooved and sometimes meandered. I'd expected more interaction between Lloyd and the other top-billed guitarist, Ian Blurton, but the two barely glanced at one another.
With his back to the small, older crowd, Blurton supplied a hard-rock rhythmic foundation for a couple of pieces, leaving Tricky Woo's Andrew Dickson to weave lead lines with Lloyd. Dickson admirably kept up and added a good dose of psychedelia.
Surprisingly, because this was a guitar-focused festival, the steady, unobtrusive drumming by Blue Rodeo's Glenn Milchem and the Beauties' Derek Downham often made the biggest impact, providing much-needed dynamics to lengthy compositions built around a single note or riff. (Bassist Eric Larock, meanwhile, had the least to do but did it well.)
The "workshop" label might've kept some people away (or was the $25 admission a larger factor?). The event was simply a concert, as was the similarly billed Rock & Roll Revue that followed, featuring the Sadies, Andre Ethier and Teenage Head's adorably hammy Gord Lewis. Their set was fiery and fun, and reminded us how seriously top-notch those Teenage Head songs are.
NOEL GALLAGHER at Massey Hall, Monday, November 7. Rating: NNN
From the outset of his Canadian solo debut, Noel Gallagher was determined to outdo his old band. From the razzle-dazzle of the wall of lights that backed his new outfit to his cheery (if limited) stage banter, Gallagher established that there is life after Oasis.
Touring in support of new album Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, which is also the name of the band, Gallagher played most of the new album, along with a couple of as-yet-unreleased rockers and a smattering of his old band's songs. The new tracks don't yet have a hold on the hearts of his fans - only time will tell if that will happen - but they stood their ground, and it's fun to hear him play with some muscle.
Of the oldies, it was a treat to hear the B-side Talk Tonight. Though it was less surprising to hear the opening chords to Wonderwall, the sweet acoustic guitar, piano and tambourine treatment made the song more than a reason for a nostalgic crowd singalong, even if that's exactly what happened.