wavelength, february 13 and 14
It would've taken an indie rock superhero to catch every single one of the great bands lined up for the four-day musical extravaganza that was Wavelength's third birthday party. Two days' worth of shows left us reeling. Polmo Polpo's soothing layered techno sounded strangely aquatic and, with all the artsy kids in brightly-coloured outfits, gave Lee's an odd fishtank vibe Thursday night. It was a mellow aural backdrop for backpacker gossip. In contrast, Do Make Say Think's epic space-rock held the crowd spellbound.
Friday's gigs at the El Mo weren't as well attended but boasted a more consistently great lineup. Atomic 7's quirky surf instrumentals were virtually note-for-note faithful to the album versions, and made for a kinda weird follow-up to the Dirty Hearts' charmingly sloppy twang rock. Soul-crash renegades Lullabye Arkestra delivered what were by far the evening's most exhilarating moments, winning over even the most jaded haters with their contagious crusade of love.
stars, february 15
With Valentine's Day a vague memory of wilted discount roses, Montreal's Stars gave the Hallmark-bastardized concept of love new, er, Heart at their El Mo CD release party Saturday. Flamboyant frontman Torquil Campbell's attempts to rile the crowd into dancing were amusing -- clapping up a lovey-dovey frenzy -- but it was the tunes that really stood out. The Stars sprinkled older tracks like the haunting Côte Des Neiges in among the great new songs off their new Heart (Paperbag) disc, with dazzling effects.
Opener John Crossingham (of Raising the Fawn) fit right in with his eerie falsetto and alternating soft-loud love songs. All hail the soft revolution.
paul weller, february 17
Forget what we said about Paul Weller mellowing in middle age. While there were tranquil moments during the songwriter's two-hour tilt at Massey Hall, Weller seemed to have most fun ripping at full stomp through rockers like Changingman and Peacock Suit. Even gospelized runs at What's Goin' On and Broken Stones didn't sound entirely out of place.
Weller's shockingly good mood was most evident, though, in his overdue willingness to dip into the past. After years of pretending his days with the Jam and the Style Council never happened, Weller has finally given in and begun mixing old and new in his set. Given how much fun he clearly had pogoing through Town Called Malice, you've got to wonder why he waited so long to play the old stuff.