antibalas, december 6
Spreading themselves over two nights made perfect sense for Brooklyn Afrobeat blasters Antibalas. Unlike their previous appearance at Lee's Palace, which was so uncomfortably jammed that some fans actually passed out, the group's two-nighter left enough space on the dance floor for unusually unreserved Toronto audiences to get loose.
Picking up precisely where they left off the night before, Friday's funky throwdown started in high gear and got progressively m0re intense, with horn players trading solos and percussionist Del Stribling playing the showman.
Detractors would say that Antibalas's churning funk is a literal rip-off of Fela Kuti's pioneering groove, but it wasn't until the sprawling band dropped Gentleman that it became clear how far they've moved from the original Afrobeat. Compared to Antibalas's double-time agit-funk, Fela's stately groove almost seemed too slow at times. You can't say that very often.
rancho misterio, december 7
Seeing the Backstabbers huddled around a single microphone harmonizing on Talk Back Trembling Lips at the Canadian Corps Hall with a coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth hanging over their shoulders, you had to check a calendar to be sure it wasn't 1958.
Although the crooning string band are the main draw of the monthly Grand Old Uproar extravaganza, it was guests Rancho Misterio who raised a polka ruckus on the freshly polished hardwood dance floor. The accordion-powered quartet's twisted Tex-Mex takes of the Bonanza theme and Ring Of Fire neatly complemented the 'Stabber's straight-up country swinging.
Watch for Rancho Misterio to move from their regular Thursday-night Rex residency to Rancho Relaxo in January. Meanwhile, the Backstabbers are currently recording a children's album and finishing up a new single backing "Tim Nugent" on a song called It's Not Easy Being The Motor City Madman's Brother. Sure to be a classic.
upcoming, the exploders
The Exploders aren't planning to release their new album until at least March, but in keeping with the holiday spirit of giving, they'll be presenting some of the raunchy rockers from their forthcoming disc -- tentatively titled 2 -- at their Christmas double bill with the Deadly Snakes at the Gladstone Hotel Friday (December 13).
According to guitarist Craig Daniels, the Rick White-produced recording was the most laid-back session he's ever experienced.
"Rick just had a way of keeping everything very mellow. It was a nice change from the usually tense, high-pressure situation, and I think the new stuff sounds great.
"We got the 'un-Canadian mix' we were after. You know, the opposite of keeping all the instruments at the same level as the vocals so that nothing stands out."