Lee's Palace, Thurs, July 27
Even before setting foot in Lee's Palace last Thursday, it was obvious to Bloor Street passersby that something unusual was up. Lampposts were smothered with posters featuring an illustration of a bird-flipping Uncle Sam, advertisements for treble charger's new American Psycho disc.
Once inside, invited media and radio contest winners received goodies ranging from cassette samplers and buttons to little American Psycho flags on cocktail sticks. BMG always did give good party.
Fortunately, most seemed equally impressed with the combo's compact set. The cornerstone hooks and harmonies were in place, suggesting that despite prolonged exposure to kiddo punk threat Sum 41, which he manages, treble charger co-conspirator Greg Nori still has the goods.
Among those spotted was former "white rapper" Snow, who's set to release a pop-oriented as-yet-untitled album via Virgin in October. A new single, Everybody Wants To Be Like You, was evidently added at CHR across the board last week. Who says there's no such thing as a second chance?
Gathers T.O. talent
The best collection yet of Toronto hiphop isn't available for mass consumption.
Mastermind Volume 49 is a promo-only set-up for the Toronto DJ's major-label debut due this fall. In true mixed-tape style, Mastermind gathers a few friends to spin exclusive rhymes over current beats, but the list of talent here is astonishing.
Virtually everyone on the Toronto scene makes an appearance, from established players like Choclair, Saukrates, Thrust and Ghetto Concept to upstarts like BrassMunk, Arcee, Nish Rawks, Assassini and Nefarius, whose frantic ragga interlude is unbeatable.
Given the spirit of the collection and Mastermind's mixed-tape history, the massive warning on the back of the disc urging anyone who's purchased the mix to call the anti-piracy hotline seems a tad ironic. Still, copies are already appearing in used shops, and for those who can't find a second-hand copy, Virgin Music Canada reps promise that Volume 49 will be handed out at various hiphop-friendly events. It might be a giant ad, but it's worth hunting down.
Leo's Palace, Fri, July 28
It's not like burlesque dancers really need an excuse to get done up feline-style, but the Leo's Palace party in honour of those born under the sign of the lion (July 23-August 22) made furry tails, claws and cat suits de rigueur at Lee's Palace Friday night.
And since the organizers of the Toronto Humane Society fundraiser were such hooked-up Leos as publicist Cori Ferguson, NOW Magazine's own Kim Hughes and Lee's bookers Amy Hersenhoren and Lyn McNeill, even without the Dangerettes' tasteful skin parade it still would've been a solid night of entertainment.
Local Leo Howie Beck brought along an acoustic guitar to start things off in stylish fashion, while Bodega followed with a dose of snappy pop.
Then, in an attempt to ditch Nada Surf's nerd-rock rep, singer/guitarist Matthew Caws performed without his horn-rimmed glasses. But now that he's let his hair grow out and taken to wearing his shirts untucked, he could pass for John Critchley. The resemblance was so strong, someone asked Caws if he'd ever caddied for Premier Mike Harris, to which the puzzled New Yorker shook his head and kept walking.
Horseshoe, Sat, July 29
The return of alt-country harmony hotshots Freakwater presented the group's former steel guitarist, Blue Rodeo's Bob Egan, with the perfect opportunity to try out some new material and new bandmates as an opener.
Joining Egan and Rodeo pal bassist Bazil Donovan was guitarist Clive McNutt. And Flashing Lights drummer Steve Pitkin sat in for regular sticksman Steve McGrath, who was on the road with with rival boy band Soul Decision.
McNutt's raunchy leads and slide fills brought a welcome recklessness to Egan's singer-songwriterly routine.
Judging by the way Egan was grinning at Donovan each time McNutt let rip, the new kid appears to have passed the audition.