Thurs, Aug 9
MAGIC WEAPONS with MARIPOSA at Tiger Bar, Rating: NN
A bar on College that defines the term "low visibility," Tiger Bar is a subterranean mod-file joint that you practically need a map to find. Once, you had to enter through a wooden gate on someone's driveway. Now the entrance is located in a separate upstairs restaurant, with its portal through a server station.
After you're in, it's a cozy place to hang out, which is exactly what everyone patiently did while locals Mariposa took their sweet time setting up after Montreal's There Were Valleys .
Nearly 40 inconsiderate minutes later, they finally kicked out some Weakerthans-style mellow indie rock, dominated by singer Chris Lyons 's loud upstroke guitar chords. The audience, mostly their friends, met each song enthusiastically, especially when tempos picked up and the band jumped into Rapture dance-rock territory.
Sadly, those Mariposa fans didn't stick around for Magic Weapons . Featuring Sunset Rubdown's
Jordan Robson-Cramer singing in that typical Montreal artsy-guy warble, bashing his keys furiously while drummer
Matt Shane added a tumultuous rhythm, they won over the faithful with off-kilter experimental pop.
Mid-set, however, when Robson-Cramer voiced his surprise that Shane still had his shirt on, you knew this show wasn't what it could have been.
Fri, Aug 10
SLAYER and MARILYN MANSON at the Molson Amphitheatre, Rating: NNN
After learning the order of performances (Slayer first, followed by Manson) it was difficult to see the reasoning behind it; Slayer are freaking gods in the genre who, now more than 20 years into things, can still entirely tear things up, while Manson is old news - a guy who coasts on his shtick.
Slayer's near-flawless performance was as intense as it was satisfying and their bare-bones live approach let the music speak for itself. Both classics like Chemical Warfare and new material like Cult sounded powerful and raw.
The band received a respectable ocean of horned salutes from fans who were clearly not there just to see Manson. But if Slayer brought the intensity, it was Manson who brought the performance, slinking, rolling, crawling and all the other "creepy"-looking things he was expected to do.
It was striking how many people stayed to hear Manson pull out favourites like Sweet Dreams and mOBSCENE as well as surprisingly strong newer songs like the show opener If I Was Your Vampire.
But even though the man and his backing band did their best to posture and flail, the show ultimately felt a little flat, in need of more than a 15-foot-high chair, a gloomy smoke-and-light show and a performance highlighted by Manson rubbing his dick and writhing around on the floor.
Sat, Aug 11
THE WOMBATS at the Mod Club, Rating: NNNN
When your band's onstage shtick hinges on wacky, zany exuberance, the energy of your audience is often the X-factor that makes or breaks a show. Squeaking and flailing your heart out into a cold, black void can be enough to send a kid reeling into a Brian Wilson sandbox of depression.
So you couldn't help but be impressed by the ecstatic explosion rising Liverpudlian trio the Wombats sustained Saturday night at the Mod Club . Faced with a virtually empty concert hall, the floppy-haired power pop trio raced through their set with the passion and dynamism of a band living the dream of their first stadium show.
Opening with an a cappella barbershop ditty delivered with the nudge-nudge, wink-wink humour of a Python sketch, frontman Matthew Murphy bopped back and forth between guitar and keyboards, yelping gleefully about "girls, boys and marsupials" while bandmates Dan Haggis and Tord Overland-Knudsen provided breathless harmonies.
With their ringing guitars, bubbly synths, stuttering drums and penchant for major-key melodies and soft-loud dynamics, the Wombats' sound suggests a clash between Blue Album-era Weezer and a perpetually cheerful Cure, though they manage to avoid directly evoking either band. Even forthcoming single Let's Dance To Joy Division, which blends pseudo-Peter Hook bass drones and rough-edged riffs into the band's fizzy pop, doesn't feel like a novelty knockoff.
Mon, Aug 13
ROZASIA at Tiger Bar, Rating: NNN
While it's an often ignored instrument in the aggressive world of noise rock, the flute was put to its most devilish use when local indie supergroup Rozasia filled the Tiger Bar dance floor with a rare sweaty show to celebrate the release of their new 12-inch split.
One of the first images you might have seen walking through the basement doors was Alia O'Brien screaming into the flute's pickup, adding chaotic backup vocals to an already exploding band next to her. O'Brien's also in Sabbath-praising rockers Blood Ceremony, so her flute was corrupted long ago.
No Dynamics longhair Carl Didur was on keys, adding thick layers to Dave Clarke 's rushing drum tempos, while second guitarist Robin Fry violently hammered notes and occasionally played some ear-splitting slide using an Old Milwaukee tallboy.
At the centre of the storm, vocalist Eugene Slonimerov , wearing only track shorts, maniacally barked out lyrics in an unrecognizable language.
Not that the jerking group of blog kids freaking out front and level with the band care about lyrics. With Rozasia, the allure is about the immediate energy unscripted rock can summon. And plenty of killer flute, of course.