Slim Twig gets his psych-rockabilly yahoos out at Rancho Relaxo last Thursday.
Thu, Jul 24
SLIM TWIG with MAGIC WEAPON and MIXYLODIAN at Rancho Relaxo Rating: NNN
With Spencer Krug currently making efforts not to break up Wolf Parade, his Sunset Rubdown bandmate Jordan Robson-?Cramer has taken the opportunity to restart artsy keyboard-?pop duo Magic Weapon. Robson-?Cramer and Rory Seydel are like many indie rockers from Montreal (via Victoria), who wage a constant struggle between writing unconventional art rock that preserves their artistic cred and the mainstream pop they obviously relish behind closed doors.
After fellow Montreal synth rock unit Mixylodian performed admirably despite having just lost their drummer, including a righteous cover of Ween's Baby Bitch, homegrown Suicide-?boy Slim Twig took the Rancho's mini-?stage before a select gathering.
Twig twitched around as he reeled off psychobilly tunes from his caustic EP, Vernacular Violence, while his bandmates stood and sat stonefaced throughout. It's a bit weird to watch one guy freak out among statues, which is maybe why the crowd seemed hesitant to join in.
And then the second show started. Minutes after Twig's last chord, the bar flooded with fans looking for the King Khan and BBQ after-?party. Khan played to a raucously packed house near 2 am, making us wonder why everyone didn't come a little earlier to see Twig, a garage rock compatriot. It could have been a totally different show.
Sat, Jul 26
THINK ABOUT LIFE with ADAM AND THE AMETHYSTS, MIRACLE FORTRESS and RUBY COAST at Sneaky Dee's Rating: NNNN
Bringing Montreal's Friendship Cove scene to Sneaky Dee's was a recipe for awesomeness. First up were Adam and the Amethysts, a band that has the same personnel as Miracle Fortress, save for the absence of main man Graham Van Pelt and the addition of Katherine Peacock on keys. Adam and Co., fresh from their first CD release, breezed through their delightfully ruralish songbook, winning many new fans in the process.
The evening's early climax came courtesy of local buzz band Ruby Coast, who busted out tight bursts of jangled energy and indie melodies. Van Pelt chose to kick off Miracle Fortress's set with two solo loop numbers that sounded cool but significantly dialed down the energy. Once his bandmates joined in, the unit built the vibe back with winning renditions of This Thing About You and Brian Wilsonesque closer Maybe Lately.
Van Pelt stuck around onstage for the highlight of the night, his universally acclaimed electro side project Think About Life. Fronted by Martin Cesar - one of the most charismatic and exciting singers today - Think About Life dished out some slamming early-90s beats while audience and band members all took turns crowd-?surfing.
Sun, Jul 27
TORONTO TABLA ENSEMBLE at Harbourfront Centre Rating: NNNN
The Toronto Tabla Ensemble have long been pushing the boundaries and stretching the definition of Indian classical music, so they were an ideal fit for Harbourfront's What Is Classical? series. Writing compositions centred around a percussion instrument might seem limiting, but the ringing harmonics of the tabla provide a rich sound around which the other instruments can float without taking focus from the drum.
Ritesh Das, concentrating on material from their upcoming album, led the 10-?piece band through sprawling, mathematically complex compositions. The interlocking rhythms create a hypnotic effect, which threatened to lull the audience into a slumber until they welcomed Brazilian vocalist/percussionist Aline Morales and a couple of members of her Maracatu Nunca Antes group onstage for a collaboration exploring the similarities between the two cultures' approach to rhythm. The results were hauntingly beautiful and led perfectly into the finale, in which they were joined by the Chhandam Dance Company, whose movements were amplified by bells attached to their feet, making their involvement as collaborative as the Brazilian contributions.