Fri, Jan 25
When most people think of Philly and disco, it’s big string sections and glossy soul that comes to mind. Pink Skull may share the sizzling hi-hats and four-on-the-floor kick drum, but they switch the gospel influences of the classic Philly soul sound for industrial and punk aggression.
They recently expanded from a duo to a full-on band, which has brought their rock influences closer to the foreground. When the crowd at Sneaky Dee’s slowly loosened up and tried to dance to their spaced-out post-punk dance jams, it was clear many weren’t sure how to react. By the end of their set, though, bodies started bouncing and the dance floor got respectably crowded.
It’s not easy being different from the norm, but the indie-dance scene needs some new ideas and sounds. Next time Pink Skull hit town, expect the audience to be ready for their dark and oddly funky weirdness.
Made a last-minute decision to hit Random Land Fridays at Circa for their Aliens vs Raliens theme party. Got there too late to hear Thomas Schumacher rock the main room, but he must have done well, judging from how hyped-up the crowd was for Canadian underground dance music pioneer John Acquaviva.
Acquaviva is generally associated with straight-up house music, but he’s definitely the kind of DJ who keeps up with new sounds. His set wasn’t far from the electro-house sounds you’d hear at Random Land. Some veterans fall on their face when they adjust to changing trends, but real pros like Acquaviva never stop collecting and listening to new music and can pull it off.
Upstairs in the Skyy Cinema room, I caught a bit of Chicago’s Beat Freakers, who were laying down a fun high-energy set somewhere between breaks and electro. The post-rave breaks crowd are quite a different demographic than the young nu-rave scene, but their sounds cross paths more often than you’d think. If only we could get the old-school house heads to see the connection between their old favourites and the new sounds – you could have three distinct generations of partiers under one roof.
Sat, Jan 26
Intended to check out Chicago electro-rap duo the Cool Kids at Wrongbar, but an overly enthusiastic bouncer was taking capacity very seriously. So, after a long debate, I headed over to LeVack Block for the Virgins after-party following their El Mocambo gig earlier that night.
LeVack Block was also at capacity, but thankfully a Dmoney promoter managed to squeeze us in. Montreal’s DJ Huggs was warming up the crowd with a fast-paced mix of danceable indie rock. Applying hiphop techniques to this music is a refreshing change from the “press play and turn up the channel” style that rock DJs usually resort to, although there were times when it would have been better if he’d let more than a minute of the song play.
As the night went on, it became apparent that the Virgins probably wouldn’t be DJing. Apparently, they showed up but were too exhausted to participate in their own after-party. Disappointing, but chances are they weren’t going to blow any minds with their turntable trickery anyway.
Sun, Jan 27
French indie pop band the Teenagers were originally slated to play their first Toronto show at the Social, but demand was so great that they moved it across the street to the Great Hall.
On record they sound more danceable, but live their rock tendencies showed through. Unfortunately, it was a half-assed take on rock performance, and for the most part the band looked like they’d rather be watching TV at their hotel. Still, they’re a young band, and maybe by the end of this tour they’ll have learned how to work a room.