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Posts Tagged ‘Jay Reatard’

Ignored 34: CMW 2014 by bike

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm

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A few quickie reviews of four shows I took in last night at Canadian Music Week 2014 and the bike rides that got me there.

The route

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Ghetts (8:30pm at Baltic Avenue)

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A fairly brief review of Ghetts because he was around a half hour late so I only caught a small handful of songs. Can’t really blame him since 8:30pm Thursday is a pretty brutal timeslot. Unless you’re Family Ties, I guess. In terms of tangibles, I hadn’t been to Baltic Avenue before but it seemed like a solid enough venue considering it was on the second floor. Kinda lounge-y, kinda wood-y. Also, the person working the door was nice and sad hi, while the DJ spun some Nas remixes to keep people entertained. So there was hat. When Ghetts finally reached the stage, he invited the crowd to nudge forward in an attempt to make the room slightly less stilted. I only caught about 4-5 songs but the delivery was as advertised with Ghetts’ rapid-fire ammo compounded (and sometimes confounded, in a good way) by his accent. Lots of energy to start although the best moments came when he cut himself some slack on mid-tempo fare like “Artillery” , an engagingly-paranoid tune that seems like his best bet for a Transatlantic breakthrough if he were to ever re-release it. Ghetts wore some great camouflage pants too. Cool artist. Wish I could’ve seen more.

Bike ride (Bloor W-College)

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Slates (9:00pm at Sneaky Dee’s)

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I gave the upstairs at Sneaky Dee’s a visit for the first time since Jay Reatard died (or more specifically, this gig) and was greeted kindly by Edmonton’s Slates, who provided several strands of Sunny Day Real Estate-ish indie rock with chops and heart. There was something inherently likeable about this band and they played with a certain urgency that was hard to pinpoint. Weeks on the road have clearly brought a strong cohesion to this outfit and pretty much everything about their stage show was seamless, from the musicianship from a technical standpoint to the delivery from a engagement standpoint. All told, they were extremely poised, polished and grateful, tipping the hat to the late Jason Molina on, yes, “Molina Blues” before wrapping with a torrid take on “Prairie Fire”, complete with some appropriate lurching about the stage. Points for the shirtless drummer as well, which is a pretty good sign that they’re into it. The solid-sized crowd for a 9:00pm slot was also a good sign that others were into it. I need to hear more of these guys.

Bike ride (College-Dundas W)

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Wordburglar (10:00pm at Hard Luck Bar)

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Playfully-poised MC Wordburglar didn’t let a small-ish crowd and tech issues cramp his (considerable) “steez”. With a lyrical focus on food, sports and sci-fi, “Burg” spat flow, struck poses and churned out a handful of good-natured rap tunes with plenty of between-song “crowd work” to vet the audience a bit.  At this point, “Burg” is a veteran of the stage and his flow, freestyle, humour and presence are all airtight so even the bum timeslot didn’t damper his enthusiasm as he snaked through material new and old. Highlight? Probably “Your Friend’s Brother” which gives a ponder to…. um, the whereabouts of some kid’s brother and cette brother’s various tendencies. Scarborough’s More or Les spun and the duo did a little head-to-head action to wrap the set. Less food talk in that one. The F-word was said at least once.

Bike ride (Dundas W-Queen W)

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Teenage Head and friends (11:00pm at The Great Hall)

What was ostensibly a book release party for Geoff Pevere’s Gods of the Hammer, a new Teenage Head biography, (read my Q+A with Geoff about the book here and then buy the book here) became something of a group hug for various Canadian punk and indie icons of the past three decades. The pics below will detail who showed and sang along with Hamilton’s long-running punk heroes. The more notable/unusual attendees were ex-Dead Boys shouter Cheetah Chrome (who visited from wherever USA for the gig) and Don Draper’s wife/John Kastner’s girlfriend (who did not hop on-stage to sing with the boys, as she had done previously with the Jesus and Mary Chain in Toronto). Teenage Head were their typical rock solid selves with bassist Steve Marshall looking lovingly aloof and Gordie Lewis galvanizing the stage with tons of focused hot licks. The gig did have a bit of a karaoke feel, which was a lot of fun as it allows the boys to dive deeper into their back catalogue than they typically would; namely, a few cuts (“Can’t Stop Shakin'”, “Full Time Fool”) from 1988’s out-of-print Electric Guitar–seldom trotted out for whatever reason. Again, Gordie Lewis has been the longtime glue of this band and his guitar playing deserves broader notice, as does his use of a fan to give his considerable locks a consistent windblown look.

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Teenage Head with their semi-new singer Pete MacAulay

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Teenage Head with that guy from Men Without Hats

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Teenage Head with that guy from the Doughboys

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Teenage Head with that non-Canadian guy from the Dead Boys

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Teenage Head with that guy from Change of Heart

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Ignored 10: When adults mosh…

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Ignored10

Bold statement: You would be hard pressed to find higher praise for an unknown/semi-unknown band than to have adults mosh at your concert.

SF-based garage punk goof Mikal Cronin just spent three nights dusting up the Silver Dollar as part of NXNE 2013. If his second of three shows was any indication, it would appear he is well positioned to join the late Jay Reatard and Wavves in the ranks of notable power pop artists who channel punk rock without playing punk rock in a literal sense.

Let’s finger early Lemonheads as the torch bearers and acknowledge that  if played well and armed with decent songwriting plus the right/wrong ‘tude, this type of music will almost always translate well in the live setting. As was the case with Cronin who personally, I thought was pretty friggin’ fantastic.

So fantastic, he caused some grown-ass mans (and a few womans) to mosh.

You don’t see adults moshing all that often but it can be VERY exciting when you do. Here is a rough ingredient list for adult mosh pits…
1. Multiple pockets of drunk friends (“friends”?) who are starting to lose their proverbial “sea legs” as they wait for their heroes to come on-stage
2. Tight capacity
3. The heat… by Gawd, the heat!!!
4. A band on-stage that is either age-appropriate or at least VERY reminiscent of a like-minded, age-appropriate outfit (i.e. as mentioned, Mikal Cronin was not unlike Reatard or Wavves or early Lemonheads)

When the stars align, that’s when the magic happens. And by magic, I mean… uh, people shifting their weight and knocking into each other.

In short, I would argue there is no greater praise for a fledgling band than to have adults mosh at your shows.

Seeing teenagers, tweens and toddlers mosh is a given since at an all-ages show, kids are more inclined to mosh just for the sake of moshing. For example, I attended a free Pursuit of Happiness gig at Mel Lastman Square on August 16, 1996  and there was a smattering of moshing for music that was hardly mosh-worthy. The mosh pit composition of that concert was 80 per cent teenagers, 5-10 per cent vagrants and 10-15 per cent “other”. Those kids (and displaced people) were moshing for the sake of moshing. So while TPOH were in fine form (as always), they didn’t really INSPIRE the moshing per se. It was circumstantial.

Do you follow?

An even more extreme example comes from a friend who says he and approximately 100 teenage boys from across Ontario moshed to a cassette version of the first Rage Against the Machine album in the summer of 1994. This took place at a tree planting academy (or something) and the pit apparently contained related activities such as crowd surfing, fist fighting and bullying(!!)

Now, details are sketchy (I’d be concerned if they weren’t) but the point is, young people are just looking for an excuse to run into each other. They would mosh to Frank Mills if given the opportunity.

So anyway, the ingredients existed for moshing to ensue at the Mikal Cronin concert and ensue it did. There was pushing. There was shoving. A couple of girls got squished against the low-slung Silver Dollar stage (although they apparently enjoyed it since they both sported ear-to-ear grins).

Cronin and his band  tore through tracks like “Weight” as the moshing grew playfully furious. On a violence scale, I’d give this mosh pit a 1.5 out of 10. It was largely good natured from my stage-right vantage point and to the credit of the Silver Dollar staff, they even allowed an adult to stagedive towards the end of the set (if you can call jumping off a two-foot stage stagediving).

Hopefully Cronin himself can mosh (in a metaphorical sense) into greater notoriety because obviously if you can get 19+ music fans in Toronto to get all visceral and stuff at a show, you’re doing something right.

Aside #1: The Wikipedia definition of “headbanging” is quite amazing and thankfully, linked from the “moshing” entry. Details below although unfortunately, this entry is a bit thin on its “windmill headbanging” definition.

There are various styles of headbanging. Various styles are often mixed according to taste and to the tempo and heaviness of the music. They can also be performed with eyes closed and/or in combination with hand gestures such as the sign of the horns, singing, yelling, and lip syncing. Headbangers’ bodies usually bang with the head, reducing the strain on the neck and making the body move in a serpentine, up-and-down fashion to the music. There are a number of different stances a headbanger can adopt, from a wide stance with one foot farther in front of the other to feet wide apart to either side. The stance chosen is usually determined to gain the best base for the headbanger to keep their balance and avoid falling over. Another popular style of headbanging is windmill headbanging.

Aside #2: Here is a “wall of death” mosh pit video that is very dusty and frankly, a bit disappointing.