Fri, May 25
FEIST and GONZALES at Massey Hall
Anyone who's seen any of Feist 's video clips over the last couple of years will be well aware that the girl's as much a fan of fancy footwork as she is of Epiphone guitars. Her Massey Hall appearance Friday night was no exception.
As indie lovebirds on special dates waited with bated breath for La Feist's romantic ballads, white-gloved Chilly Gonzales warmed up the crowd with a mix of concert pianist flamboyance and self-deprecating wit.
Clad in a slick lab coat and playing to a camera set just above his piano keys (perfectly placed to showcase Gonzales's ivory-tickling digits), Feist's musical soulmate did his best 5000 Fingers Of Dr. T impression in between deadpan bits of banter about his self- (and, he claimed, media-) imposed exile from Canada.
The vaudevillian tone was tempered slightly when Feist and her band of boys took the stage under very dim lights and the intergalactic sparkle of a rotating disco ball. The set started slow with the velvety Honey Honey, one of the handful of tracks on Feist's new The Reminder disc that's been a staple of her live sets since the early days of Let It Die.
During her solo sets, that tune was a ghostly skeleton composed of layered, looped vocals, and while Feist still built a framework by alternating between two mics and harmonizing with her own dense vocals on Friday, her full band's haunting arrangements - synth bloops reminiscent of stones plopping in water, scratchy guitars, metallophone - transformed Honey Honey into a creepy-good siren song.
It was a clear example of the Parisian/Torontonian singer's remarkable ability to constantly reinvent her own material. Though newer numbers like 1 2 3 4 and The Park stayed close to their album versions, reworked versions of Let It Die and Mushaboom infused the songs with new energy.
The surprise addition of fancy dancers - a high-stepping team of suited dandies suited up in airline-attendant gear, then an adorable, gawky tap dancer who provided percussion, then the stageful of slow dancers from the audience Feist invited up during Let It Die - made the show feel more like a theatrical event than a standard chanteuse showcase.
Friday wasn't Feist at her best - for all its concert-hall charm, Massey Hall has been consistently muddying vocals, particularly female ones, at many recent shows, and the singer herself seemed a bit piqued. Still, Feist on an off day is better than most artists in their prime.
Sat, May 26
FALL OUT BOY at the Molson Amphitheatre
What a shitty fucking idea this show was.
First off, herding thousands of pre- and barely post-pubescent fans into the "no fun zone," aka the Molson Amphitheatre, and subjecting them all to ridiculous policies, not to mention all those thuggish, aggressively intimidating outsourced security guards (hey, fuckwads, I actually lost track counting how many kids I saw you boot out), did nothing for the good vibes that should've been going on.
Compound that with way too many opening acts, including the abysmally average post-Blink-182 project +44 and you get the idea.
Thank hell that Fall Out Boy are as good as they are at putting on a spectacle and saving the day. Say what you will about their music, but those kids have so much energy and presence, it's infectious. They connect with the crowd, and their showmanship is amazing. Bassist Pete (dream boyfriend) Wentz and guitarist Joe Trohman somehow managed to make their way under cover of darkness to play at the back of the stadium near the lawn while the remaining dudes still rocked out onstage.
Oh, and Wentz introduced their cover of Beat It by saying there's no other song that simultaneously makes him want to fight, fuck and dance all at once, which is pretty awesome.
ERNEST DAWKINS at Trane
Saxophonist Ernest Dawkins is a tremendous improviser with incredible control over his instrument. The Chicago-based player proved that at his show at Trane on Saturday, the second of two nights at the jazz club.
Coming up Bathurst, you could hear the music of his trio pumping from a block away, and inside the bar/restaurant, the vibe was warm and carefree.
He played the melancholy song Lookin' For Ninny, carrying his saxophone into the audience to play directly to people from time to time. He and his sharp, fluid band broke into a slow New Orleans dirge during which he preached an incredible sermon on how the powers that be manipulate the public by keeping them divided.
With abstract flare, he joked about moving to booming Dubai, playing off the country's name: "Bye-bye! " The performance was characterized by a charismatic looseness mixed with political ideas and, of course, fresh, full-bodied jazz.
Another high note was Dawkins's improvised Happy Birthday for a lady named Adele seated at a table with friends near the stage. When the song digressed into a soulful Happy Birthday blues, Dawkins threw in "We don't need no fire to burn this mother down," capping it off with "You never heard 'Happy Birthday' like this! " It was true.
June is Black Music Month at Trane, with a non-stop series of solid dates booked, including spots by Waleed Abdulhamid and Rich Brown .