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A Club Called Rhonda
Peaches at WorldPride!
Peaches at the South Stage, Saturday, June 28.
Despite technical difficulties, the Toronto-born iconoclastic electro-rocker couldn't be kept off the WorldPride stage. NOW's Jonathan Goldsbie captured the moments via Twitter.
@goldsbie At Pride, the port-a-potties thwomp and rattle with the perpetual bass that float through the air.
@goldsbie At the Church-and-Wood stage. Getting tired just standing and waiting for things to happen. The condition of existence.
@goldsbie Peaches finally comes onstage. "Do you know how badly I want to entertain you right now?" Her equipment isn't working and she is not happy.
@goldsbie Peaches promises she will be back. She drops the mic to the stage and leaves.
@goldsbie And now she has reappeared and is swearing about Rob Ford. (Happy Pride, everybody?)
@goldsbie "Are you still with me?" Peaches shouts. No, not really. I've found a chair.
@goldsbie Oh, I think she's on now. Unless some large bird of prey is displaying a heretofore unknown talent for electroclash.
@goldsbie And Peaches is dancing onstage with a woman I think she said is her mom.
@goldsbie And now I'm standing so close to the subwoofer I can feel it in my rib cage. That can't possibly be good.
@goldsbie I hope Peaches offers an endorsement for Monday's by-election. It would provide some clarity.
@goldsbie Oh. Now there's a person onstage dressed like Rob Ford. "Give it up, Rob Ford!" Peaches shouts.
A CLUB CALLED RHONDA at the Drake Hotel, Thursday, June 26. Rating: NNNN
There was a time when the Drake Hotel's Pride celebrations didn't feel nearly as queer as advertised, and seemed, suspiciously, like an excuse to get the late-night extended liquor licence. That's changed a little bit each year, though, as the gay nightlife scene moved away from Church and spread throughout the city, and as the Drake figured out how to adapt itself to Pride. Thursday night was a good example: the club brought in the team behind notorious Los Angeles-based "pansexual party palace" A Club Called Rhonda for a night.
Known for booking great DJ talent, the globe-trotting bash is just as much about the diverse, glamorous crowds they draw. Detroit techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson seemed inspired by the vibe to play more overtly soulful and sensual house than usual, as did locals like Nautiluss, who was helped out on the mic by former Azari & III vocalists Starving Yet Full and Fritz Helder.
BECK at the Sony Centre, Friday, June 27. Rating: NNN
In the six years since Beck's last Toronto performance, bone-rattling dance music has swept into the mainstream. Meanwhile, the alt-pop star is touring behind his moody, psychedelic folk 12th album, Morning Phase.
"It shouldn't be an arms race to fill up every sonic square inch of space," he insisted to the Sony Centre audience.
Not that Beck has ever had a problem doing that. He and his six-piece band (the studio musicians who worked on Morning Phase) opened with a barrage of his biggest and funkiest hits - including Devils Haircut, Black Tambourine and Loser - and proceeded briskly through his back catalogue with an enviable arsenal of kooky synth sounds and samples before getting to the material from his latest release.
Low-key songs like Waking Light and Say Goodbye sounded as big and energetic as everything else thanks to four acoustic guitars, a banjo, plus electric bass and drums. Beck refrained from showing off his falsetto but nonetheless tackled a cover of Donna Summer's I Feel Love and attempted a few moonwalky moves despite a recent injury.
RICH AUCOIN at Yonge-Dundas Square, Sunday, June 29. Rating: NNN
The penultimate act on the main Pride stage, Rich Aucoin had precious little time to make an impact. He emerged almost exactly when the rain began to fall, which thinned the crowd a little (boo!) but also provoked more uninhibited dancing and make-out sessions (yay!) - call it a tie. Aucoin did his best to teach his choruses to the audience in the form of pre-song singalongs, and the band's decision to eschew his albums' ornate instrumentation in favour of a heavy, pounding synth-'n'-drum-machine approach added heft to their sound, an essential in such an open, uncontrolled setting.
After a half-hour set that was just long enough to fluff the crowd for headliners Tegan & Sara, Aucoin wrapped up with his hit song It and left as a rainbow began to shine behind the stage to the east. I'm not one for omens and portents, but on that night, I made an exception.
Stephen du Manoir