Wed, Feb 6
JOHN MELLENCAMP at the Air Canada Centre Rating: NNNN
John Mellencamp knocked out his American hits for the faithful at the ACC Wednesday.
Being a John Mellencamp fan means being comfortable with a certain degree of American pride. The Indiana-born Hall of Famer is a true-blue flag waver, as his mega-hit Pink Houses and its stadium-ready chorus, “Ain’t that America, home of the free,” which opened the show to roaring approval, attests.
But putting aside shitty car-commercial song Our Country, it must be said that Mellencamp is one of the good ones, a patriot rebel with a heart of gold and a fiery spirit that keeps him rocking onstage at 56.
He worked through a catalogue of hits that included R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A., Authority Song and Jack And Diane, railed against bigotry and hatred with a new song called Jena, promised a brighter, Bush-less future before the acoustic Be The Best You Can, then slyly told religious types to give up on judging others, all while using an excessive amount of profanity for emphasis. John Mellencamp, we salute you.
Fri, Feb 8
SILVERSTEIN at the Kool Haus Rating: NNN
Their music could be considered a derivative and watered-down hodgepodge of screamo-meets-bubblegum-punk with a heavy side of narcissistic teen-centric over-emoting. But Silverstein have one thing going for them: they know exactly what their fans want to hear and see.
After several openers, including the fantastically entertaining Protest the Hero, Silverstein plied the kids with the requisite singalong faves like If You Could See Into My Soul (seriously) and My Disaster (no, seriously), which, unsurprisingly, met with plenty of squeals and screams as the band did their best to flail around, swinging their instruments.
Between the gymnastics and a bang-up light show, it’s clear that the years of touring have turned Silverstein into a genuinely entertaining band that thrives in its element – namely, an all-ages crowd ready to hang off singer Shane Told’s every pained and lovelorn word.
Sat, Feb 9
LESLIE AND THE LYS at the Rivoli Rating: NNNN
Proudly sporting gold lamé headbands and sequined anythings, gay hipsters and small-town Inter-nerds blended into an incandescent blur of excitement to celebrate the return of the gem-sweater tycoon.
Self-professed “Iowa tornado” Leslie Hall and her new (and regrettably thinner) backup performers tore through their 12-song set in kaleidoscopic fashion. Pairing the grotesque with always clever and often hilarious rhymes, Leslie and the Lys make trash glamorous. This aesthetic is nothing new for the Toronto music scene, but who better to appreciate it than Value Village pillagers and smart-art enthusiasts?
With strands of teased-out hair stuck to her headset microphone, Hall offered up mouthfuls of body-positivity to all the bedazzled fans in the house, and for those who missed out, there’s always her YouTube empire.