Thu, Feb 14
ANDREW WK at the Sound Academy Rating: NNNN
It’s bound to be a riotous night when the venue serves canned beer. By 10 pm shotgunning was already under way, and a growing circle of barely legal dudes skipped around to Brutal Knights in pre-mosh anticipation.
Fists were pumping and the floor was soaked by the time Priestess reached their peak with a minute-long drum solo. The Andrew WK look-alike competition that followed was a weak but hilarious spectacle of all-white outfits and fake blood.
It’s unclear if there was even a winner, because amidst the clamour of screaming jocks and flying beer cans, Andrew WK suddenly appeared, boasting, “This isn’t a concert, it’s a party!” As he ripped into his catchy metal-themed anthems, fans stormed the stage, and those still on the floor thrashed around like crazy. If anybody was disappointed that his singalong-to-a-keyboard performance finished before midnight, it didn’t show, proving that Andrew WK is a true master of – if nothing else – the party. Awesome.
Fri, Feb 15
WAVLENGTH’S 8th ANNIVERSARY with ABDOMINAL, SISTER SUVI, DANIEL NEBIAT, BOCCE and GLISSANDRO 70 at the Gladstone Rating: NNNN
For eight years Wavelength has been the go-to showcase for great indie talent, so expectations were high for their anniversary shows.
Kicking off the night was Abdominal, who turned in a solid performance worthy of the SOCAN Echo Prize he earned last year, while Toronto’s Sister Suvi’s energetic folk rock got the crowd, including Dallas Green, moving. Daniel Nebiat was interesting, to say the least. His Middle Eastern beats and odd electric washboard-like instrument didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the high-energy acts, but he held his own, awing most of those in attendance. Easily the best performance of the night was from Bocce, a quirky electro-rap dance outfit that had the quarter-full Gladstone in the palm of their hands.
While it would have been better if more people showed up, it was still a diverse night of great underground music, exactly what you’d expect from Wavelength.
HUGH MASEKELA at the Phoenix Rating: NNNN
The Godfather of African Jazz was regally presented to the sold-out Phoenix crowd, which was often compelled by the force of undeniably positive vibrations to stand up and dance.
Gentle, melodic piano tones provided the bed that Masekela’s flugelhorn slid into with graceful ease. He shared the stage with a rotating cast of stars, including the inimitable Sibongile Khumalo, who possessed enough magnetism to hold her own beside the other nine skilled African musicians. Joking hilariously about the overwhelming testosterone around her and poking fun at her voluptuousness, she provided some jaw-dropping operatic displays, evoking Shirley Bassey one moment and Measha Brueggergosman the next.
Before Masekela ended the night with the Nelson Mandela tribute Bring Him Back Home, he joked, “You are such a wonderful audience, we want to take you with us.” And the audience was ready to go.
Mon, Feb 18
NEW YORK DOLLS at the Phoenix Rating: NN
While some chose to spend Ontario’s inaugural Family Day huddled around fireplaces playing Scrabble, getting out the old toboggan or baking a batch of cupcakes, a select few will remember the new holiday as the night they spent staring incredulously at the bulge in David Johansen’s crotch.
The rag Doll singer, who miraculously retains the same junkie-thin figure seen in the sleeve photo of their 1973 debut, complete with rolled-up sock stuffed in his too-tight trousers, led the legendary glam punks through a fleshed-out set of classics. Once-sloppy slashers like Puss ’N’ Boots, Babylon, Looking For A Kiss (Luv!) were dished out in a perfunctory manner, despite Sylvain Sylvain’s (the only other original living member) best guitar pick-flicking attempts to prove he’s still a wild rocker.
But it only took the sight of Johansen fishing through his lyric cheat sheets to be reminded that it’s slightly ridiculous to expect a gravel-voiced singer nearing 60 to recreate the spirit of untamed, youthful abandon the Dolls embodied.