Bruce Peninsula’s Kari Peddle (left), Daniela Gesundheit and Neil Haverty stole the show at the ’Shoe Friday night.
Thu, Aug 21
GENGHIS TRON at the Opera House, Rating: NNN
It's unfortunate that the electro-spazzcore/dance act was forced to hit the stage while a good chunk of the crowd was still waiting outside in a slow-moving line. Those lucky enough to make it in (we're talking a few dozen at the get-go) saw the trio do the best they could under the circumstances.
The band ripped and flailed through a set full of synth-driven power electronics and grindcore-influenced guitar meshed with head-nodding beats that, along with several tube stage lights, demanded everyone's attention. With no live drummer (the beats are programmed), you might expect a lack of energy, but singer Mookie Singerman looked like he didn't give a fuck about impressing anyone by screaming like a maniac as he threw himself around the stage.
Mostly made up of songs from Genghis Tron's brilliant latest, Board Up The House, the set's only downer was its short length, which didn't give the rest of the band time to up the intensity.
EBONY BONES at the Drake Rating: NNNN
Former UK soap opera star Ebony Bones, who reinvented herself as an oddball singer a few years ago, has enjoyed a fair amount of praise lately for her high-energy live performances and decidedly strange take on danceable punk rock. She's compared to MIA quite a bit, but other than their chant approach to their vocals, they have little in common. Bones's sound owes much more to garage rock than to hip-hop and dancehall, and instead of a DJ she's got a full-on band.
In contrast to her recorded work, the live band version pushes the electro and dance elements into the background, but it's still far from straight-ahead rock. As promised, Bones and her band were decked out in eccentric, colourful costumes, and her rowdy enthusiasm was contagious. The front row of the audience was taken up by pogoing girls, usually a good sign for an act's first Toronto show.
The songs are a bit lacking in the hook department, but there's definitely something worthwhile going on with the overall aesthetic and sound. When you can name one of your biggest tracks Don't Fart On My Heart and not have it turn into a novelty song, you know you've got a unique vibe.
Fri, Aug 22
BRUCE PENINSULA with CUFF THE DUKE and the STABLES at the Horseshoe Rating: NNNN
As the profile of Oshawa twang rockers Cuff the Duke continues to rise, they'll need to be increasingly careful about choosing opening acts that won't upstage them. The Stables, a trio of hometown hosers who use a tin washtub strung with a wire tied to an old hockey stick in place of a bass, were a safe bet. Their hayseed hollers were rowdy enough to get the attention of the Horseshoe's typically chatty Friday-night crowd, but their tunes weren't quite clever enough to make the Stables any sort of spotlight-stealing threat.
The real problem for Cuff the Duke was the wild-card middle act on the bill, the Bruce Peninsula. Though the alt-gospel crew have slimmed down from their 12-strong choral complement to a more manageable seven-piece touring formation, they were still a formidable force to contend with, especially after a boisterous opening set from the Stables revved them up.
Anyone expecting to hear some sweet hymn-singing from this bunch got much more than they bargained for. The Bruce Peninsula delivered a walloping one-two punch of hard-belting harmony singing, bolstered by an amped-up backing band. If this performance was meant to be a statement, it was that the Bruce Peninsula aren't just a rag-tag assembly of bored hipsters who think it's cool to croon pre-war gospel and blues numbers, but rather a hugely promising folk-psych ensemble with a dynamic set of darkly twisted original songs ready to unleash. Their debut full-length, A Mountain Is A Mouth, is due to hit any week now. Consider yourself warned.
Sat, Aug 23
HI-HAT RECORDINGS RE-LAUNCH PARTY at Rancho Relaxo Rating: NNN
Fuelled by indie bands culled from his successful Two Way Monologues concert series, hard-working local booker Dan Wolovick is expanding his racket to include resuscitated label Hi-Hat Recordings. The label's new plan is to release handmade CD-Rs, saving proper releases for bestsellers.
At the packed launch party, Guelph youngsters Burn Planetarium got stuck with an early time slot. Their infectious indie rock (in the vein of Spy Machine 16 and Born Ruffians) and charismatic stage presence should guarantee them a bright future. Next up, local esoteric oldsters Luxury Bob proved a bit of a miss, pairing tongue-in-cheek tango-pop with a subdued live show.
PDF Format brought the energy back when he played two hilarious selections from one of his 8-bit rock operas. His too-short half-set was followed by a solo performance by Hi-Hat founder (and 90s throwback) Spookey Ruben, who's still got vocal skills that would make Brian Wilson blush.