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Posts Tagged ‘concert’

field trip

The details: On an overcast Saturday (June 8th) record label Arts & Crafts had their 10th anniversary celebration Field Trip Music Festival at the Fort York & Garrison Common (which I might add is actually an awesome venue for concerts– you can’t go wrong with history and music). The lineup (listed in the image above) consisted of all bands within the labels’ roster, and it was an impressive lineup indeed. I was particularly excited for Bloc Party.

My experience: I was lucky enough to be put on a guest list to the festival but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out of work for the day. So, although the doors were open at noon, I wasn’t able to show up until after 5 pm. So sadly, this wont be a full festival experience review.

I was most excited to see Bloc Party (quirky British indie-rock band), in fact they were essentially the only band I wanted to see, although later I discovered I enjoyed the other bands more than I anticipated. We (my girlfriend and I) arrived at the venue while Bloc Party were on, we were hoping to catch the end of their set.

Unfortunately, because we were on a guest list, we had to go to another entrance on the other side of the venue. So as we walked a couple blocks to the west entrance (in hopes of seeing Bloc Party— I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere), we could hear them perform (it was amazing to hear ‘Helicopter’ from a distance). However, by the time we got to the other side, found our way to the tent, got our tickets, went through security and took our first step into the festival, Bloc Party was JUST leaving the stage. Oh cruel world!

Next band up was Montreal indie-pop band Stars. Between sets we grabbed food from the infamous food trucks, and just wandered around the field trip and rustic themed festival. It was nice– they had art, free vitamin water and popsicles, little tents, a kids zone, a Drake General Store tent (which had some awesome merch and knick knacks) and a whole whack of stuff.

Stars: Too be fair, when Stars were on, my girlfriend and I were more concerned with getting food in our stomaches and taking in the surroundings. Not to mention neither of us were particularly fond of the band. I went through my phase where I listened to their album  Set Yourself On Fire religiously to the point that I can’t stand it any more. However, while sitting eating our shrimp and octopus tacos (from Buster’s Sea Cove), we found ourselves enjoying their performance.

Their synth-pop, dreamy, sex, relationship and booze drenched music came across completely different live. While listening to it, I found myself thinking this reminds me of REM, or Fleetwood Mac, or The Cure or any other band other than Stars. I guess this isn’t a trait a band generally tries to achieve, but it made me appreciate the performance more. Maybe it even added an element of surprise.

Feist and her full band @ Field Trip Music Festival

Feist and her full band @ Field Trip Music Festival

Feist: For the first couple songs Feist was joined on stage by a full band. By the third song the band left just leaving her (Leslie Feist), a drummer and a keyboardist. One may think having a full band sound would make for a better live show, but to me the show began when the extra band members left. Feist was able to shine when it was just the three musicians up on stage– her raw talent, impressive guitar skills and vocals were at the forefront.

Feist is a strong performer and she managed to impress even with her slower songs. It wasn’t until she started breaking out older material that the fans loosened up and started dancing and singing along. Fan favourites like “I Feel It All” and “My Moon My Man” were stand outs for me. Not surprisingly, she didn’t perform her breakout hit “1234” and instead she played a remixed dance-y version. It was a very drum and vocal loop heavy version of the song, and it got the crowd moving. Although it hardly resembled the original song, it was a successful and sneaky way to say she included it in the set without actually performing it. I honestly don’t blame bands when they don’t play their breakout hits, but good on Feist for incorporating it somehow.

Her performance started off kind of slow, and built up to a grand finally. I guess I just had to warm up to her, but overall, Feist is an amazing musician and live performer!

Broken Social Scene: I wasn’t sure what to expect from Broken Social Scene, especially since I hadn’t listened to them in years. When I last listened I had their album You Forgot It In People on repeat, to the point that I gained an attachment to certain songs. An attachment I completely forgot about until I heard the songs be brought back to life live.

They opened their set with ‘KC Accidental’, and from that moment I was hooked. Not only are they musically captivating, but the emotional bond I had with the songs jolted to the forefront of my mind. They’re all talented musicians (I was particularly impressed with the drummer), and their stage presence and showmanship are amazing. They’re a big band as is, but the entire set was a smorgasbord of musicians. There was a horn section, additional percussion, hand clappers (people who specifically did hand claps), and plenty of guest appearances. Feist appeared for a song (‘Almost Crimes’), Jason Collett played guitar on a couple tracks, Metric guitarist James Shaw came on stage for a song dedicated to him, and who knows who else showed up? There was plenty of coming and going on that stage!

The peak of the performance for me was when they played ‘Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl’ and ‘Cause = Time’ back to back.  There has only been a handful of bands I’ve seen live that have successfully been able to transport me to a certain time in my life and sincerely have a musical/emotional connection with. I would’ve never guessed Broken Social Scene would make that list, but hearing those two songs one after another was an untouchable experience for me, strictly for sentimental reasons. For me, everything after that experience was mediocre in comparison.

They played quite an impressively long set, and a lot of fan favorites. We left early to avoid the crowd, but they were still going strong long after we left.

In Conclusion: Too be honest, I’m not sure if this will become an annual thing, but I kind of hope that it does. I can’t imagine the lineup changing much year after year (since it’s the labels roster), but it looked like it was a huge success, and it would be great if they could make something more of it. On a personal level, I enjoyed it way more than I anticipated, and although I was debating skipping it (due to work reasons) I’m glad I didn’t.

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The-Shins

Details: The Shins fourth album Port Of Morrow came out March 2012, and they haven’t stopped touring since its release. On March 22, 2013 they played a sold out show at Sound Academy in Toronto with guests Ra Ra Riot.

Ra Ra Riot @ Sound Academy, Toronto

Ra Ra Riot @ Sound Academy, Toronto

Ra Ra Riot: The Syracuse, New York pop rockers just released their third full-length album Beta Love in January 2013. Their sound is quite 70/80’s with synth heavy hooks, belting vocals, subtly detailed basslines, and electronic and bass heavy drums. Even the band members’ attire were screaming vintage — the singer wearing a pale pink button up, and the bassist looking as if he just stepped out of a DeLorean with his acid wash skinny jeans, shaggy hair and his large vintage glasses. Meanwhile, the keyboardist/violinist looked as if she was a long lost ABBA band member.

Fittingly enough, Ra Ra Riot’s music does have glimmers of ABBA with their synth-pop sound. They’re a large band (6 members) and good at their craft. The members would switch instruments mid song, they had a cellist (which is awesome) and the lead singer sounded spot on to how he’d sound on the record. To me the peak of their performance was mid set when they broke out their song ‘When I Dream.‘ It’s a simple song but the marching drums, belting vocals, and finger snapping managed to captivate my soul. They then smoothly transitioned into a dance-y song (that I unfortunately don’t know the name of) that got me moving.

All around, they’re a good live band and a great opening band that successfully got the crowd moving and dancing. It’s also good to see a band that has fun with each other on stage — small antics between members, laughing and smiling at each other. Also noteworthy, although not seeing it for myself, the drummer was entertaining to watch because he’d apparently have a huge grin ever time he hit the snare drum. As it was described to me, it was quite captivating, as he was able to transition from a deadpan stare to a huge grin with every hit of the snare.

I’ve heard of Ra Ra Riot before, but  seeing them live definitely changed my perspective of the band for the better.

the shins

The Shins @ Sound Academy, Toronto

The Shins: The Shins came on stage fairly early, around 10 pm. First thing I noticed was female guitarist, Jessica Dobson, wasn’t there — instant disappointment! I was actually really excited to see her perform. To me a female musician, especially one as talented as her, increases the awesome factor of any band, and her not being there took a blow to theirs. It turns out she took a break from The Shins to tour with her own band Deep Sea DiverBesides, she’s only been an official member for a year, so surely The Shins can rock the house without her, and surely, they did (still disappointed though)!

They started off strong and surprisingly played popular songs fairly early in their set. Within the first four or five songs they played biggies like ‘Caring Is Creepy’ and ‘Simple Song,’ which I thought for sure would be encore material. Their set was sprinkled with a good mix of new and old, but they left out some personal favourites (‘Pink Bullets’, ‘The Past And Pending’, ‘Sea Legs’, ‘Split Needles’ and more). That aside, The Shins are amazing live, and they have great sing-along songs. Throughout their set the audience would religiously belt out the oooo’s, awww’s and quirky sounds in each individual song. And if you know The Shins, you’d know there’s plenty of that in their music.

Lead singer/guitarist James Mercer sang flawlessly, and at times he would jazz up the vocals and sing lines differently from the record, which was refreshing. The audience would sing along to every word either way, and James would smile. There was little banter between songs until mid way through the set, when James declared that Toronto always has an amazing crowd. The band then had some good hardy Toronto banter — the drummer said how much he loves Canada, the bassist shared, I quote, “Toronto is my favourite… right now”, and the keyboardist announced that his mother, Wendy, was born in Toronto. Which, naturally, caused the crowd to chant “Wendy! Wendy! Wendy!” as the band members laughed on stage. The chants lead to James making a funny; “Hashtag Wendy”. I never did think of tweeting or even checking if that hashtag caught on.

Near the end of their set they played an epic jammy version of their title track ‘Port Of Morrow’ which transitioned flawlessly into their cult classic ‘New Slang.’ Again, I would have thought it would be encore material. It was amazing to hear live, however, it lacked luster, and it didn’t seem as magical as it could be. Perhaps he’s lost the passion to play the song, which I can understand (when I saw Beck he played ‘Loser’ first, to get it out of the way. When I saw Radiohead, they didn’t even play ‘Creep’, nor did I care they didn’t), but I still expected that… feeling, which I didn’t receive. It was still nice to hear the crowd sing along.

Shortly after, they said goodnight and left the stage. For the encore, James came back solo with his acoustic guitar, and played ‘September’ (the first love song he ever wrote), the band joined him on stage mid song, and finished the song strong. They played one more song, and closed with a jammed out version of ‘Know Your Onion!’ (I think, correct me if I’m wrong).

Conclusion: It was a good show and they’re an awesome band to see live. Was it the best though? No. Was it in my top five? No. Is that a tad harsh? Probably. Would I recommend you see them live? Yes, I still would. It’s the same case for any band, but the more you know their music, the better the show.

Side note: This is my personal opinion and how I received the show.

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Foals' lead singer, Yannis, in the crowd at Kool Haus, Toronto

Foals’ lead singer, Yannis, in the crowd at Kool Haus, Toronto

The Details: Indie rockers Foals, from Oxford England, have been touring in support of their album Holy Fire (out now)! On May 11th, 2013, they played a packed show at Toronto’s Kool Haus with openers Blondfire and Surfer Blood. The following is my review and perspective of the night.

Blondfire: To be frank, I’m not sure how they ended up on the lineup. They didn’t belong with Foals’ indie vibe. Blondfire is a pop band from Los Angeles, and the music is written and produced by a brother-and-sister duo.

At first, I wasn’t terribly impressed because it was blatantly obvious they were playing on top of a pre-recorded track. Second song in, they had three guitarists on stage and none of them were playing the noticeable bass line and picking guitar. Once getting over that revelation, the band did put on a good show, including an amazing cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams.’ The songs were catchy, and the female vocalist was spot on. Their best song was their synth-heavy closing track and single Where the Kids Are.’ It’s still hard to get over the fact that the best part of the songs (cool synth parts and hooks) weren’t even being played live! Needless to say, I’m not running out to buy their album.

Surfer Blood @ Kool Haus, Toronto

Surfer Blood @ Kool Haus, Toronto

Surfer Blood: I already knew about Surfer Blood– they were practically my summer soundtrack during 2010. They’re a indie grunge/surf rock band from West Palm Beach, Florida, and too be honest, I completely forgot they were even opening for Foals! A rush of excitement took over me when they climbed up on stage, declared, “Hey, we’re Surfer Blood” and then tore into a familiar song (I believe it was their song ‘Floating Vibes’ followed by Twin Peaks’). I was really impressed with their live performance and they had my full attention, but what set me over the top was the singer’s vocals, particularly the Modest Mouse/Pixies-esque scream midway through their third or fourth song. They had me at “Hey.”

For such a young band (the members of the band look as if they just started growing facial hair and just finished suckling from the teat of rock ‘n’ roll), formed only in 2009, they’re a very strong, tight-knit and successful group. The lead-singer/guitarist is a clean-shaven, husky, young fellow, but he is an amazing frontman. I would easily compare him to the likes of Frank Black (The Pixies) in his stage presence, vocals, style, and demeanour. The songs are fun and played flawlessly, but the lead singer is what makes their live show, with his quirky moves, cat face paint and his adventures into the crowd, with or without his guitar.

Overall, they put on an amazing show, and if you get a chance, you should go see them live! Also, they have a new album, Pythons, out June 11th.

Foals @ Kool Haus, Toronto

Foals @ Kool Haus, Toronto

Foals: Shortly after 10:30 pm, Foals took the stage with their jammy track (and intro to their new album) ‘Prelude.’ From then on, they had the crowd eating out of their hand; the crowd was dancing, jumping, moshing, singing, and crowd-surfing from beginning to end. This is my second time seeing Foals live, and they never disappoint. They’re an energetic band and you can tell they have fun on stage together– they often huddle around the drummer and jam out their songs.

Near the end of their set, the lead singer/guitarist, Yannis, was very violent towards his mic and its stand. In the span of maybe three songs, the crew had to replace roughly five mic stands and two mics while Yannis moved, kicked, or threw them around the stage. At one point, he kicked the stand and it flew forward and hit the poor security guard in the head. I’m still not fully sure if this was an outlash for potential sound/mic issues (it sounded great from the crowd) or if this was just part of Yannis’s onstage persona. Yannis definitely is a strong frontman, entering the crowd on several occasions, jumping around, and really getting into the music. However, I don’t remember him being that destructive the first time I saw them at Lee’s Palace a few years back. It was entertaining to watch, but I’d consider that the only negative aspect of their performance, and that’s probably only because I sympathize with the crew (since I’ve been in that position). A positive that came from it was that when Yannis wasn’t around a mic to sing, the crowd would sing the lyrics, which is amazing!

After Yannis’s violent mic escapade, the band left the stage. The atmosphere of the place was amazing, the crowd was cheering, and begging for an encore. The band returned just before midnight, Yannis with a cigarette in his mouth, walked up to the mic, and explained they had been looking forward to the Toronto show for a long time and how the crowd lived up to their expectations, and they then burrowed into their heaviest song ‘Inhaler.’

Their final song, off their debut album, was ‘Two Steps, Twice,’ which they jammed out for a solid 10 minutes or more as Yannis ran around the venue and through the crowd with his guitar. During his trek he was standing right in front of my girlfriend and I for a good minute or two playing guitar, I might add, it’s a fascinatingly-awkward moment to have a musician stand directly in front of you and play. At one point, a fan followed Yannis back stage, and ran on stage with crew members chasing after him. The fan then squirmed his way out of his shirt, which the crew member had a firm grip on, and jumped into the crowd.

Conclusion: Besides the few technical aspects, that a normal human wouldn’t care about when attending a concert, the show was amazing! If they’re playing a city near you, I highly recommend you check them out.

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This year I’ve seen some amazing bands. I’ve seen Wolf Parade, The xx (with Hot Chip), Jay Z, Constantines, Young Rival just to name a few. Upcoming concerts I have The National, City and Colour (with Tegan & Sara), Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire and who knows what else.

This year I also got a new phone which I’m able to take video with. I’m venturing into the world of recording mediocre quality videos at concerts I’m attended. It just dawned on me now that I can post them on here. They’re a little late and not the greatest quality, but here’s some videos:

Wolf Parade came to Toronto on April 7th @ Pheonix Concert Theatre. When I found out tickets were sold out, I bent over backwards to get tickets, and it was so worth it!

I’ll Believe in Anything:

Unknown *New* Song:

The XX were on tour with Hot Chip and I got the privilege  of seeing them when they came to Kool Haus in Toronto on April 20th, 2010:

Shelter:

VCR:

There may be more videos to come. Stay posted!

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When I originally bought the ticket to go see Nine Inch Nails, I didn’t know what to expect from them. I didn’t exactly have high expectations, but I am very much pleased with their live show. Trent Reznor and the gang were flawless. 

Nine Inch Nails got on stage shortly after 8, and kicked the show off with intense and high energy songs. Visually the show had basic concert lighting, and effects, but as it progressed the effects got more unique, and visually appealing. 

Midway through they slowed things down and played a couple of their slower songs in a row. Although it wasn’t as musically exciting, the band managed to keep the audience captivated with the visual effects. Not only did they have the massive screen of lights behind them, but they also had lights that dropped down in front of them causing a 3D effect. They also had cameras that Trent Reznor would sing into and it would show up on the big screen behind the band. 

 The way I saw it, the concert was divided up into four sections: the intro, the slow part, the climax, and the encore. During each of these “sections” the music got better and the effects became more mesmerizing. As the show went on, it wasn’t so much about the band and the music anymore, but rather the visuals. The music became more of a backdrop to a visual masterpiece that took place in front of the crowd. 

During “the climax” all their major hits were played, and near the end a massive “NIN” logo dropped down from the ceiling acting as the red curtain before the encore. 

The encore began with a series of white boxes (literally) floating in the middle of the stage. The crowd cheered as Trent Reznor walked up on stage and started touching various white boxes. The boxes he touched turned red. Trent selected and de-selected these boxes, and eventually the boxes that were red became the bass drum of the song. It’s hard to explain, but I stood mesmerized as I watched it happen. I still have no idea how they did it. Near the end of the song the drummer walked up to these red and white boxes and de-selected all the red boxes, and you can hear the bass drum simplify as the red boxes disappeared. GENIUS!

Although buying these tickets were a spur of the moment decision. This concert has definitely made it into my top 5 best concerts EVER. Musically they were flawless, but the fact that they combined it with beautiful, unique, creative and astounding visuals has made this concert top notch. If you ever get the chance to see Nine Inch Nails I highly recommend you take that opportunity. Even if you don’t like them musically, you’ll love the visuals.

~*~

I took some pictures, but they didn’t turn out too well. They were taken by my cellphone, and the camera doesn’t have that great of a zoom. We had pretty close seats, but the pictures make them look like ants. I’d also like to thank “Stephanie Colvert” and Tanya for the extra pics. Here’s some pictures that give you a rough idea of what the visuals were like:  

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This was during “the intro”, there’s nothing overly special in this picture.

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Terrible picture but it shows a massive red screen that simply showed the silhouette of the band. It looked really good, and it kind of reminded me of an iPod commercial. 

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Alright you can’t really tell. But you know when a windshield gets foggy and you wipe a area for you to see through the fog. That’s what this was like. They had lights that looked like rain covering the band and suddenly a big blob popped up where you can see through and see the band. Hard to explain, really cool though. 
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Those cloud like objects pulsated to the beat of the song.
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This shows some of the screens, and lights involved. 
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The huge “NIN” logo. 
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The white squares that Trent touched to create the bass drum of the first encore song. 
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It’s blurry, but you can see how energetic it was. Peoples hands are in the air, and you can see someone crowd surfing in the pit. 

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