CHICAGO UNDERGROUND DUO
Ted's Wrecking Yard, Tues, August 22
Cornetist/Moog twiddler Rob Mazurek might get top billing with his Chicago Underground Duo, but at Ted's Tuesday it was percussionist Chad Taylor who stole the show.
Rocking hard like a 21st-century version of the Don Cherry/Ed Blackwell Mu session, the trumpet/percussion duo played fast and free, with the tempo largely set by Taylor's frantic drum lines. You haven't really lived until you've seen Taylor bang out a melody on the vibes with his right hand while seamlessly keeping free time with his left.
The addition of Designer's Casey Rice on laptop and gurgling beats for a couple of cuts pushed things even further out. Fusion has rarely sounded this sweet.
It's also worth noting that the nearly full house was the youngest, hippest crowd to see a jazz show in Toronto in recent memory. Judging by the number of dropped jaws, a substantial, untapped audience awaits if the Downtown Jazz mafia ever lets go of the past.
Horseshoe, Wed, August 23
By the time I hit the Horseshoe following k.d. lang's wacky MacArthur Park encore at the Hummingbird Centre, Slobberbone had already dripped a whole set's worth of sweat on the hardwood stage. "They've been on for at least 40 minutes," remarked club regular Kerry Doole, "so they're probably just about done."
Slobberbone? Finished in 40 minutes? Not a chance. The Texas top hands were good for at least another hour of sloppy/great Replacements-style raunch and roll. And with free beer and a crowd of soused louts egging them on, that could easily extend past the two-hour mark. It did. Those who hung in were treated to a special Slobberbone Canuck salute. After reconfiguring Rush's Working Man into a southern rock stormer worthy of Molly Hatchet, they drove home Neil Young's Big Time like a stolen Econoline as tour toques were tossed high in delight.
Ted's Wrecking Yard, Fri, August 25
Arrive late and you get what you deserve.
Stuck at the Rivoli watching Blurtonia storm through songs from their recently completed sophomore disc, we arrived too late to catch the apparently awesome Ted's set by Royal City. Frontman Aaron Riches was still dazed an hour after.
We did, however, arrive just in time to catch Mocky at their room-clearing peak. Highly abrasive, barely together beats, yelped raps and little more. Even the giant stuffed bear onstage couldn't save them.
El Mocambo, Sat, August 26
Festively 'froed singer Simon Pious clearly felt compelled to dress for the occasion of the release of the Exploders debut What's What & Who's Who EP (Teenage USA).
His pearl necklace looked like it might've been left over from his recent wedding, while his grandiose diamond pinkie ring would've turned budding film star DMX green with envy.
Sweltering as it was downstairs at the El Mocambo, Pious soon began peeling down to his boxers as he shimmied to the group's Southern Culture-like shuffles. Teen Crud Combo show-off Nick "the Stripper" Flanagan nodded his approval from the front row while unbuttoning his own shirt to tease guitarist Craig Daniels with a glimpse of chest hair. Not to be upstaged, Pious then ripped his shirt open to reveal a forest stretching from chin to waist, prompting an overexcited fan to shower the stage with Sleeman Ale. A rock and roll riot without a single bottle busted.
Lee's Palace, Sat, August 26
Though Lee's was headlined by drone machine South Pacific Saturday -- their last gig ever -- the blissed-out, shape-shifting trance rock meticulously unspooled by Burlington's low-key SIANspheric ended up being the main attraction.
It wasn't just because the band hasn't played Toronto in recent memory, or because South Pacific started late, a rather unwise decision given their pillow-friendly sound.
No, SIANspheric were simply better, at once lusher and more dense. The flashpots were a nice touch, too.