Thu, Jan 10
NECRO at the Opera House Rating: NNN
Tattooed teens and suburban pseudo-psychos (and a few grrrls) came out to meet their demigod Necro, returning to T.O. with a co-conspirator crew, and it was not an affair for the squeamish. Riviera Regime proudly and loudly represented for Toronto before Psycho Realm rocked the crowd into frothy anticipation for one of hiphop’s wildest sideshows.
The Riviera Regime MC was an energetic hype man from Death Rap onward. A 20-man mosh pit sparked up by song two and didn’t stop for the entire hour-long audio assault. A shirtless mohawked superfan twice backflipped off the top of the crowd as hit song Revenge was being chanted by a mob possessed. Belligerent Gangsta came across clearly, and it was irony at its finest to hear Necro rip Forget About Dre, considering Cage’s old beef with Eminem. Later he became a screaming pimp, ordering 10 girls onstage to simulate porn for Who’s Your Daddy? In total, three pairs of breasts and one bare ass were exposed. Good times.
TEN KENS at the Boat Rating: NNNN
Although it’s still early in 08 to make predictions, this should definitely be a good year for already buzz-worthy and surprisingly eclectic local four-piece Ten Kens. Playing to a healthy crowd, the genre-defying (let’s just say emotive post-rock for convenience) band taunted us with a set that never seemed to repeat itself stylistically.
They entirely succeeded in maintaining a musical tension amplified by singer Dan Workman’s haunting falsetto, which occasionally threatened to overshadow the melodic waves of noise and overdrive guitarist Dean Tzenos dished out. Only five (!) shows under their belt and they’ve already discovered a dynamic that results in sweaty and swirling up-tempo songs and should win them a vote or three as best new band. The scary thing is, they’ll probably only get better.
Fri, Jan 11
AESOP ROCK and CAMP LO at the Sound Academy Rating: NNNN
A last-minute addition to the show, near-mythical Bronx legends Camp Lo (Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba) slickly strutted their instant-vintage rhythms across the Sound Academy (formerly the Docks) mini-stage with confidence as they worked their way backwards through their complex catalogue. A small section of the crowd was aware of the rarity of seeing these Dadaist slang editorialists and praised them accordingly.
Soon after, a razor-sharp Aesop Rock and energized Rob Sonic tag-teamed with the relentless DJ Big Wiz to lay the smackdown with their pile-driver-heavy, heady lyricism. Leaning mainly on selections from None Shall Pass, whose title track wormed its way into the audience’s ears early in the evening, before performing No Regrets over Redman’s Da Goodness, the Def Jukies kept the few hundred kids fully enthralled. Aesop Rock hilariously said, “C’mon guys, I tried! ” when he brandished his Strange Brew T-shirt and finished off the show with the great crowd-pleaser Daylight. Fantastic damage was done.
Sun, Jan 13
WHISKEY PRIEST with ANNA LINDA SIDDALL and THE FUTURE HAS A SILVER LINING at Sneaky Dee’s Rating: NNN
We hit Wavelength 395 in time to catch the tail end of Philly free jazz unit The Future Has a Silver Lining, a trio who don’t fit comfortably into the jazz club or indie rock scene. Too heavy and distorted for the beret-and-cigarette-holder set and too skilled (check guitarist Nick Millevoi’s two-handed guitar hammer-ons) to impress jaded indie kids, TFHASL are odd ducks on most bills, which is probably how they like it.
The dour-looking, stool-sitting Anna Linda Siddall and her man Colin Fisher followed with a volume-challenged set that came on strong early against the back-of-the-bar chatter but eventually lost the fight midway through. Too bad – those yahoos missed a lovely Paul Simon-inspired original called Let’s Go Back To The River and her compelling John Martin cover to close.
After a witless and self-servingly long intro by resident mouthpiece Doc Pickles, Mississauga post-punks Whiskey Priest blazed through a batch of throaty Touch and Go-style Chicago rock numbers. WP are a tight unit, with gruff duelling vocals recalling early Hot Water Music and complex guitar arrangements that are cerebral yet hit you in the gut. Keep these guys on your radar.