Thu, Sep 12
BLAQK AUDIO at Mod Club Rating: NNNN
Skeptics wondered how AFI memers Blaqk Audio, a two-man computer-assisted studio project crammed full of layered keyboards, would translate their songs live in their Toronto debut.
But svelte singer Davey Havok and keyboardist Jade Puget made the most of the sparse stage set-up. Puget bopped and danced behind the keys while Havok strode the length of the stage with theatrical aplomb, reminding his star-struck goth-punk fans that he's an entertaining dude to watch.
With only one album to play from, the duo kept the pacing fully caffeinated, going through the entire record. Just when you thought they maybe were taking themselves a little too seriously, out came a cover of Blur's Girls And Boys that made one fan say, "This is actually better than when I saw Blur do it."
Thu, Sep 13
TIFF/LIVESTOCK/YO! MTV RAPS SNEAKER RELEASE PARTY at the State Theatre Rating: NNN
Roundtable Entertaiment teamed up with Spadina's hottest sneaker freak spot, Livestock, for a good ol' hiphop hoedown at the State Theatre.
Free gourmet macaroni and cheese served in Chinese takeout containers was just one of the many interesting touches the promoters offered as DJ Merciless, DJ Dopey and DJ Serious triple-tag-teamed the turntables with a time-capsule tribute to the 70s.
The crowd came dressed to impress, and that they did. But few sights impress a true party animal like legendary Toronto b-boy Jedi exploding with consistently surprising breakdance acrobatics. Heist and Stro, and even Queen West fixture Georgie Porgie busted power moves. Quite entertaining.
Displayed prominently were untouchable limited-edition Yo! MTV Raps-embroidered kicks, black-and-white tiger-print Pumas bearing the names of historic hiphop personalities like Big Daddy Kane and MC Shan - themselves reason enough to have a party, according to street promoter Taurean Scotland.
The three veteran DJs kept the crowd grooving at a consistent pace with an unorthodox mixture of mostly old-school music plus the occasional selection from Kanye West's Graduation, a decidedly delicate album of songs that actually work in a club atmosphere. Good times.
Fri, Sep 14
BEBEL GILBERTO and FORRO IN THE DARK at the Carlu, Rating: NNNN
It took New York City-based quintet Forro in the Dark less than two songs to energize an apparently listless audience with their unpredictable melange of Latin vocals and percussion, Southern-fried rock, spaghetti western country and some other uncategorizable genre of raw funk.
Band members kept switching instruments, and their sound intensified with each selection. Slightly menacing 6-metre silhouettes of the performers were projected on the left and right walls along with swirling psychedelic colours that lit up the room.
Bebel Gilberto floated onto the stage not long after, and was accompanied by the same band, who, amazingly, sounded like a completely different quintet. The night was hers from the moment she deliciously declared, "We are here to make musico and love."
Dressed in a sparkling, jagged black shirt and simple black nylons, she alternated between pillow-talk whispers and powerful romantic affirmations. In a truly intoxicating extended segment, she harmonized with the flutist. A menacing guitar melody broke down into a gorgeous, dreamy moment of double-time shuffling percussion that Gilberto embellished with delicate finesse.
After taking a request for Baby, from her self-titled disc, Gilberto and the band spun an ethereal version of Night And Day before thanking her devotees for such a lovely evening and bowing out.
The pleasure was ours.
THE BUDOS BAND at Supermarket Rating: NNNN
The clubbers filling the sweltering Supermarket Friday night to see the Budos Band must've gotten word that this would be the last chance in a long time to see the Staten Island funkestra get busy. A portion of the squad will soon take off to join the Sharon Jones tour, which hits Lee's Palace November 13.
DJs John Kong and the Circle Research tandem of Nix the Finger Prince and Astro the Guillotine got the party started right with tasty selections of left-field funk. GTAers seemed perplexed by the mix's lack of happy house and 80s electro-pop.
They were lined up at the back of the club with arms folded when the nine well-bearded Budos boys appeared, equipped with horns and attitude, ready to turn the place out. Those who caught their Harbourfront show in June - when the Budos crew upstaged Me'Shell NdegéOcello - will know that they've evolved well beyond their Afrobeat and salsa roots and are heading in a Eastern direction.
Still, it's amazing to see how much deeper the anti-Antibalas have gotten into Ethio-groove, snaky keyboard lines and all. The Mulatu Astatke inspiration was apparent at Harbourfront, but now they sound ready to cut an album as his backing band.
Who knows? That could be next.