Tue, Feb 27
BRIGHT EYES and OHBIJOU at Opera House
Other than Glenn Danzig or maybe Ghostface Killah, the person least likely to be seen at a Bright Eyes concert is probably Al Green's sidekick guitarist, Teenie Hodges.
So you can imagine the puzzled looks on the faces of the hoodie-wearing emo faithful at the Opera House when Conor Oberst introduced the legendary Hi Rhythm ace for the show closer. As it turns out, the soulful string slinger who enhanced the recent recording and live performances of Chan Marshall, just happened to be in town for a visit.
Since Cat Power and Bright Eyes share the same road manager, one thing led to another and suddenly Hodges was onstage strapped with Oberst's shiny new black Eastwood Supro 1962 Coronado copy for the finale. The other surprise was that Oberst didn't call for Soul Singer In A Session Band or even Old Soul Song. He went with Laura Laurent instead, and it worked magnificently, with Hodges spontaneously pulling of a brilliantly structured solo that not only fit the song but took the whole band's performance up a notch. It was almost like they'd rehearsed it, which they hadn't.
After a post-gig tequila toast backstage, the animated Oberst was obviously thrilled that the impromptu collaboration had come together so smoothly.
"I asked Jake (guitarist/bassist Jake Bellows) to give Teenie my guitar if he was interested in joining us for a song, but we hadn't planned to do anything together. When he walked onstage, I just told him the song was in G and he did the rest. I mean, it's one thing to come in and just chug-chug along, but to create a whole new melody on the spot that works in the song - that's a rare gift. The man is truly amazing!"
Fri, Mar 2
THE CARPS at Sneaky Dee's
Now that Death from Above 1979 are but a pleasantly loud distant memory, the position of Toronto's Drums & Bass Two-Piece Ambassadors to the World is open for applicants. Scarberian duo the Carps are a definite threat.
Their raucous, super-pumped set as part of the New Pollution zine's first-anniversary bash Friday at Sneaky Dee's was shitloads of sweaty fun, even when the songs got a bit messy and repetitive. While the sparklers they handed out for their show closer might've suggested a gimmicky lack of faith in their tuneage, they've got a solid hit in VideoFACT-approved anthem Compton To Scarboro, a booty-shaking burner that hooked me as soon as drummer/vocalist Jahmal Tonge kicked into the banging intro cribbed from Bell Biv Devoe's Poison. Rad.
Sat, Mar 3
SHOUT OUT OUT OUT OUT at Lee's Palace
Even if you had, like, an elite team of professional party rockers trained by some secret government agency to rock a party no matter what, you would still be hard pressed to match the fun explosion brought on by Edmonton's Shout Out Out Out Out.
Say what you will about their actual studio albums, but there's no way their frenetic energy would even half-translate on wax like it does live. With two drummers and the other members switching between bass, keys and vocoder, the electro-rock/dance six-piece didn't stop moving or high-kicking or sounding genuinely touched that so many people showed up to dance.
EE + MV (Erika Elder and Matt Valentine)
MV&EE and more at the Music Gallery
As slow-moving audience members trickled into the Music Gallery for Saturday night's freak-folk throwdown, dazed-looking Gallery programmer Jonny Dovercourt made what seemed like a friendly suggestion: "It's better to be in an altered state!"
Turns out the innocuous line was actually a serious warning. Though the meandering drones and sl-o-o-o-w, textured repetition of spiritual acoustic tunes can be dreamy when you're zoning out in a beanbag chair, basking in that freaky glow live without dozing off is tricky. Jon-Rae Fletcher and his one-off band had one solution - after tripping out with one extended 15-minute jam built around mantra-like growls, coos and plodding piano chords, they quickly escaped, leaving the crowd wanting more.
Matt Valentine and Erika Elder - aka Thurston Moore pals MV & EE - got a bit too caught up in their groovy vibe. In between concerted references to Canada ("This is more Medicine Hat than Sault Ste. Marie") and allusions to the Festival Express, Valentine moaned off-key about things of an astrally interconnected nature over reverb-heavy guitar-plucking that often resembled head shop sitar meditation music. When partner Elder took over vocal duties, the experience improved considerably. Her cool, breezy voice easily floated over top of the dense, echoing tunes, which overlapped and bled into each other without clear beginnings or endings. Still, judging from the faint aroma of weed that hovered like incense above blissed-out listeners in the acoustically endowed church, the songs actually made way more sense on a different plane.
Mon, Mar 5
KRISIUN and UNLEASHED at the Opera House
Kinda like the James Brown of brutal death metal, Brazil's Krisiun are easily one of the hardest-working bands in the business. After being on and off the road for a half-dozen years, the trio have accomplished a kind of brain-freezing technical virtuosity and speed that exceeds that of mere mortals. Whenever Cookie Monster-voiced singer Alex Camargo announced they'd be playing a "fast one," the show became a blur of violent machine-gun drums and wailing guitar solos, while the band kept the crowd involved whenever possible.
Post-Krisiun, Sweden's old-school death metal/thrash dudes Unleashed played to a thinning but devoted crowd who were clearly happy with all the old material the band delivered. Unleashed's set wasn't as exciting, but they did hail Odin, with vocalist Johnny Hedlund drinking a toast from a hollow horn. Pretty fuckin' metal.