Wed, Jun 13
THE EVENS at Whippersnapper Gallery Rating: NNN
Punk rock dignitary Ian MacKaye is notoriously particular about the context of his live performances. Whether it's mandating ticket prices, avoiding flashy clubs in favour of alcohol-free, all-ages venues or keeping his stage set-ups austere to the max, MacKaye wants it right - no frills, just music.
Whippersnapper Gallery was a perfect youth-friendly choice for MacKaye's post-Fugazi duo, the Evens . Sitting between two Ikea floor lamps, MacKaye and partner/drummer/singer Amy Farina launched into You Won't Feel A Thing from their self-titled debut, while the quiet crowd sat cross-legged on the floor, perhaps somewhat intimidated by such close proximity to one of punk's most recognizable and respected figures.
Most of the Evens' stripped-down, guitar-based songs began with a classic MacKaye preamble about disdaining pretty much everything the White House stands for. His and Farina's ultra-political lyrics, clearly voiced and unobstructed by his clean guitar tone, combine nicely, even when he switches into his incomparable hardcore bark, giving us a rushing reminder of Minor Threat's enduring greatness.
Even though the show had a great, positive vibe going, MacKaye's obsession with controlling his perfect live environment became a little overbearing, especially when he refused to turn on the gallery's AC - he didn't want to compete with its volume.
Thu, Jun 14
HIP HOP KARAOKE at the Boat Rating: NNNN
Kensington Market's the Boat was the venue and vessel that took 150 dedicated hiphop junkies on an unforgettable voyage down memory lane.
The fifth in a series put together by DJ Dalia , Ted Dancin' and More or Les , the show was an exhilarating experience that anyone looking for a good ol' time should definitely investigate.
The lyrics of a few hundred well-known hits by everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Wu-Tang Clan were printed up, and brave audience members wrote their name and selection down, ready to try and tear shit up.
Regulars like the indescribably energetic Rhinoceros channelled M.O.P.'s Ante Up and Camp Lo's Luchini (without lyrics!) and a five-man collective called Inspired Minds performed every single word of Wu-Tang Clan's juggernaut posse cut Triumph. D-Sisive and Ennis , aka Tango and Ass, rocked Cypress Hill's Hand On The Pump.
The rhyme animal named RaSoul and his petite female friend re-created Blackstar's Definition, and dozens of others executed or attempted songs by the Beastie Boys, Biggie Smalls, Common and Black Sheep. The audience was lavish with praise and the ambience was electric.
Another wonderful Toronto hiphop tradition in the making.
Fri, Jun 15
FERGIE at Kool Haus Rating: NNNN
Fergie 's band's (Black Eyed Peas, in case you forgot) last album was so freaking annoying that I could only assume that Fergie-ferg would naturally carry those traits over into her solo show at Kool Haus .
After seeing her, though, I can only assume that she's the most interesting part of BEP these days. She did all the hits, as you'd expect, and played everything else, too, since she only has one solo record to work from.
I assumed her live show wouldn't be able to translate the glossy, music-video-ready production she uses, but Fergie kicked that shit up more than I thought possible. Her band/writing collaborators were about as tight as they come, but they never overshadowed Fergie's voice, which, by the way, is strong and confident.
Her cover of Barracuda was pretty damn sweet, too.
MAROON 5 at Lee's Palace Rating: NN
There's no question that L.A. pop-funk five-piece Maroon 5 are one of the most obnoxious acts around, but when they toned things down for an intimate pre-MMVAs gig at Lee's Palace , you could almost convince yourself that they were probably pretty good before the music machine got hold of them.
Lead singer Adam Levine 's gyrations were unsettling and his banter weak, and more than a few songs off their new record are merely average pop songs.
If anything saved the show, it was the rabid sold-out crowd, whose frenetic dancing and intimate knowledge of every Maroon 5 tune electrified the venue.
That frantic energy prevented this gig from being just another big arena bust.
Sat, Jun 16
NIGHT OF THE LIVING NED 2: HANDSOME NED TRIBUTE at the Horseshoe Rating: NNNN
A who's who of the 80s Queen West scene was on hand at the Horseshoe to salute the man who made the town twang, the late Handsome Ned Masyk , on what would've been his 50th birthday.
Musical director bassist John Borra led the surprisingly tight combo of Sidewinders drummer Cleave Anderson , One-Eyed Jacks guitarist Steve Koch and fellow six-string slinger Johnny MacLeod that served as the house band. The evening was essentially a benefit concert to raise funds for a Handsome Ned memorial plaque.
Not-so-secret special guest Greg Keelor , who flew back from a Blue Rodeo show in Edmonton to toast his old friend, got things off to a rockin' start by blasting out a powerful and poignant version of Rose Coloured Glasses.
Event organizer and former Sidewinder Jim Masyk strapped on a guitar and fittingly belted out his brother's signature tune, Put The Blame On Me, along with unreleased tune Little Miss Lonely Heart, which may soon appear on a new collection of Handsome Ned rarities currently in the works.
Not to be outdone, the Razorbacks' Tony Kenny , Viletones main man Steve Leckie , Raving Mojos frontman Blair Martin and Rang Tango's Lori Yates each made their moments on stage count with heartfelt performances.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was show closer Chris Houston , who came up from the Hammer to remind everyone that Handsome Ned is the most famous person ever to hail from neighbouring Stoney Creek. The black-stetsoned marauder then proceeded to blow the place apart with the best ignoroid rant ever written about the Steel City, Einstein's Brain Is In Hamilton, which deserves to be recognized as the city's official song, proudly hollered by primary schoolers from Red Hill Creek to Dundurn Castle.
Sun, Jun 17
MMVAs at MuchMusic Rating: NNN
It's hard to imagine just how big a production the MuchMusic Video Awards really are unless you're down there seeing everything first-hand.
Understandably, the glitzy night draws teenyboppers like flies to a light bulb with the promise of being in close proximity to the likes of Hilary Duff , Maroon 5 , Joss Stone and too many more to name.
The awards presentations were kind of ho-hum compared to the red-carpet entry fiesta and fun times provided by Fergie , the Used and the Duffster.
Surprisingly, Can-rock meatheads Finger Eleven livened things up, playing on the rooftop along with really loud fireworks.
Nine bands played in just under two hours, capped off by a so-so finale by Avril Lavigne , who may actually have been upstaged by the big confetti explosion near the end of her song.
The night was entirely for the kids who stood in line for hours waiting to get in, and from their elated reactions, someone did something right.