Cut Copy’s Tim Hoey (left), Dan Witford and Mitchell Scott lit up the Sound Academy Friday night.
Fri, Sep 19
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK at the Air Canada Centre Rating: NNNN
A considerably older New Kids on the Block managed to turn back the clock 20 years for the enthusiastic crowd at the Air Canada Centre Friday night.
It's not like I thought the recently reunited New Kids were gonna put on a shit show. But in terms of rating this thing, I'm gonna have to eschew all the usual stuff like "could they sing?" (sort of, btw) and instead focus on the fact that, in front of a sold-out crowd of unbelievably loud girls (and a few semi-interested tag-along dudes), the show was so completely ridiculous that it couldn't be anything but genuinely entertaining.
Pulling out all the oldies like The Right Stuff, My Favourite Girl and even Donnie Wahlberg's solo "rocker" Cover Girl, New Kids made it clear that they meant to take full advantage of fan nostalgia. And they did. Gratuitously.
I think the Kids were in on the joke, so to speak, judging by their knowing grins. But that didn't detract from hilariously cheesy stuff like having group heartthrob Jordan Knight pose with unbuttoned, billowing shirt above a high-powered fan. Nor did it stop them, now pushing 40, from throwing down Hangin' Tough - one of the most unthreatening takes on cocky teen bravado ever - in matching basketball jerseys for an encore.
CUT COPY at Sound Academy Rating: NNNN
Electro from Australia was the hot ticket Friday night as neon punks packed Polson Pier early, anxious to dance to some catchy blog house. First up, representing Sydney, were the Presets, a duo whose throbbing bass lines, delicate synth melodies and new-romantic lyrics worked best whenever Kim Moyes ditched his keyboard for his kit and dropped an energy-boosting live beat over top of the sequenced drums.
Headliners Cut Copy, who hail from Melbourne, took the stage to sustained applause, clear evidence of their mainstream breakout. While they appeared to be more of a live act than the Presets, real guitars and bass were favoured over sequencers only half the time, with knob-twiddling and crowd-hyping being their alternative stage tasks.
Cut Copy hit high gear with Far Away, a superb song off their latest disc that sounds like the street-wise electro cousin of the Talking Heads' Naive Melody. More energetic high points followed, and singer Dan Whitford informed us, "It's time to fucking dance, Toronto!" Despite a looser than expected rendition of their best track, Lights & Music, Cut Copy still managed to go out on top, absolutely killing the dance floor with their explosive encore, Hearts On Fire.
LOS LOBOS at Massey Hall Rating: NN
Two songs into Los Lobos' set, a single, solitary fan was dancing at the feet of co-vocalist David Hidalgo. Though he welcomed her enthusiasm, hinting to the audience that "she has the right idea," there's something really awkward about one person shaking it while a theatre full of people (barely half-full in this instance) sit politely listening.
Truth be told, this institutional Mex-rock machine, though deserving, is not cut out for the theatre circuit. Los Lobos need dance floor space, and maybe access to cold cervezas (a summer festival setting would be ideal), because watching Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Pérez and crew traverse their 30-year catalogue should have been far more memorable than it was.
The Latino mavericks looked uninspired routinely passing around the blues solo baton, most notably on their cover of Neil Young's Down By The River. The dancer had some company for Come On, Let's Go, from the La Bamba soundtrack, and it got livelier near the end with I Got Loaded. Still, with yawn-inducing shows like these, it's going to be tough to convince younger generations why this band is so important.
Sun, Sep 21
MANIFESTO MAIN EVENT at Nathan Phillips Square Rating: NNNN
A four-day festival celebrating Toronto's hip-hop culture, music and community, ManifesTO once again established its importance as an annual tradition. A beautiful day, breakdancing circles, an open market, graf walls and open canvases and a spacious stage allowed acts like Marvel, Rich Kidd, Tanika Charles, the Toronto Youth Council, Jessica Kaya, Hero, Kamau and many more to deliver a showcase for why the Screwface Capital honestly doesn't have much to complain about.
Vansterdam's Raskalz proved they're still smokin', and Red 1, Misfit and Kemo burned the place down with jems like Really Livin and Top Of The World with k-os. K'naan and his three-piece ensemble exploded with vibrant new material and old hits, from the supreme Soobax to the Bob Marley-level revolutionary anthem Waving Flag. It was truly transcendent music.
There was a distinctly wild rock edge to the set by k-os and crew, who even debuted an impressive angelic number off his new album, plus a Sunday Morning singalong, but he was unceremoniously cut off because the set started after the 10 pm curfew. Otherwise, ManifesTO was hip-hop bliss once again. Maybe Kardinal Offishall can bless it next year.