CYRIL HAHN at Wrongbar, Friday, January 11. Rating: NNN
Last year was pretty good to Cyril Hahn. The Swiss-born, Vancouver-based DJ/producer found favour with Diplo, The xx and BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Mac, and the remixes on his SoundCloud page racked up thousands of plays and downloads.
At his Toronto debut, Hahn wasted no time proving why he's one to watch, opening with his morphine-paced remix of the Mariah Carey guilty pleasure Touch My Body, which was received with hearty applause from a packed Wrongbar. He proceeded to play a deft set of deep house, 90s R&B and his take on current pop (Solange's Losing You, California up-and-comers Haim's Don't Save Me).
A man of few words, Hahn let the music do the talking. When he finally did speak, it was to ask the crowd to sing along to Destiny Child's Say My Name (rather than the trio's tepid recently released comeback single). We gleefully obliged.
WALTER TV at Parts and Labour, Wednesday, January 9. Rating: NNN
As the bassist in Mac DeMarco's band, Pierce McGarry seems like a pretty reserved dude. He cracks jokes between songs and chats with frenzied dancers in the front row. Mostly, though, the shenanigans are left to DeMarco, who's much more inclined to crowd-surf, get naked or make out with his girlfriend onstage.
As the leader of psych-pop band Walter TV, which features DeMarco on bass and Joe McMurray on drums, McGarry is even tamer, or at least he was at Parts & Labour, though that could be because they played at 1 am on a Wednesday night.
During their 30-minute set, the Montreal-via-Vancouver band whipped through songs from their latest cassette, Appetite. The sound was a bit muddled, but since the riffs are always fuzzy and McGarry's vocals sound like he's yelping underwater, it worked.
At one point a mosh pit formed, accidentally sucking in mild-mannered indie kids and then spitting them out. The skanking seemed odd, but considering Walter TV are a weird mashup of avant-garde pop, it kind of made sense.
SPHINXS, BB GUNS, DAS RAD and LOST BABIES at the Silver Dollar, Friday, January 11. Rating: NNNN
If you've played in a local rock band at any point in the last 15 years, chances are you have a Dan Burke story. And even if that story involves money he still owes you for a gig he booked during his wilder years, it's likely you respect his passion and vision. So when the wildman promoter puts together a Class Of 2013 showcase of local acts he believes are destined for bigger things, we pay attention.
Sure enough, all four bands at the Silver Dollar on Friday have huge potential. Kicking off the night, Lost Babies frontwoman Valerie Messy had impressive presence and charisma (although they need a bassist). Das Rad's echo-drenched stoner rock freak-outs were heavy as fuck and gleefully weird. BB Guns' gang vocals drove home their catchy garage-rock, girl-group hooks. And last but not least, Sphinxs revved up their soul-punk with a three-guitar lineup that made for an imposing wall of sound. (Thankfully, singer Siânteuse has a voice huge enough to compete.)
If this is the sound of 2013, we approve.