Tue, Mar 25
PANTHER at Lee’s Palace Rating: NNN
Musicians are fully aware that some nights will be better than others, but taking the stage on a cold night when exactly six people stare back at you in a room that holds hundreds can make you rethink your career path.
Portland’s pop noisemakers Panther (not Brooklyn Vice boys Panthers) played what might politely be called an intimate performance. The looks on multi-instrumentalist Charlie Salas-Humara and drummer Joe Kelly’s faces as they tore through echoey vocals on jittery dance-punk tracks from their new joint, 14kt God, suggested the duo didn’t see it that way.
But they didn’t half-ass it, even if the situation encouraged apathy. Though they walked out of Lee’s without much gate, they left with their heads up. It made you wish the sound of 12 hands clapping could be so much louder.
Thu, Mar 27
PITTER PATTER MUSIC FESTIVAL Rating: NNNN
Local booker Keith Hamilton’s second annual Pitter Patter Festival featured 100 bands playing 14 venues in five cities over four nights. And this year’s lineup was actually stronger pound for pound than Canadian Music Week.
Playing at Kensington’s Supermarket, local shoegazers Fjord Rowboat – fresh from inking a distro deal with Japan’s Quince Records – filled the room with reverb and fog, debuting a stellar set of new material. Fans of Ride, Adorable and Bloc Party’s first record should check these guys out.
Crashing into the airtight bill at Sneaky Dee’s (which also included Lunchmeat and Anagram), I caught a killer set by the Mark Inside. Reinvigorated by a month spent recording and gigging in London, England, TMI’s bluesy garage onslaught had fans crowd-surfing to new tunes like Storms and Can’t Take Her With You.
Another treat was the top-secret debut of the revamped Diableros lineup Saturday afternoon at Supermarket. New to the band are the aforementioned Hamilton, Mike Duffield (both ex-Postage Stamps) and Fjord Rowboat’s Craig Gloster on Farfisa. Holdovers Pete Carmichael and Ian Jackson traded smiles onstage; the impressive new unit definitely sounded ready for the country.
Sun, Mar 30
SUNSET RUBDOWN at Lee’s Palace Rating: NNN
It’s not like they weren’t trying, bless their artsy little Montreal hearts, but everyone’s favourite Wolf Parade side project must have had one hell of a case of the dreaded Sundays. A little more life from the band would have made a world of difference.
What we got was still a very entertaining display of Sunset Rubdown’s swirling, cartoonish, maniacal melodies that burst out of the percussion-heavy and theatrical arrangements sounding like the love children of circus midway music, show tunes and jittery indie rock.
There were a few glimpses of boisterousness and electricity from singer Spencer Krug, whose intensity came and went while he showed off some real pretty chops on the keys. Their onstage chemistry felt more like friends hanging out than performing, so it was hard to believe that Sunset Rubdown usually flail about so much. Maybe chalk it up to bad hangovers.
THE ROOTS at the Kool Haus Rating: NNN
Philadelphia’s finest live hip-hop group, the Roots, and Toronto have had a heavy PDA-endorsing love affair since before the days when Jill Scott performed the hook for You Got Me at the Guvernment in the late 90s. They returned in support of their upcoming album, Rising Down, but didn’t pull any new tricks out of their admittedly extensive arsenal.
Martin Luther sang up a storm, Kamal’s keyboarding was sweetness, ?uestlove delivered his robust percussion (and occasional vocal enhancement) with a veteran’s confidence, and Black Thought rocked the mic for a breathless two hours (but still failed to engage the crowd completely – and they wonder why they haven’t blown up). The 10-minute Bob Dylan tribute and modern rap medley elevated the experience, but next time the Roots should give the people more of either their brand-new material or their deep back catalogue. Proceed isn’t enough!