Sam Roberts Band at Le Lion d’Or – Montreal Live Review
Who: Sam Roberts Band
Where: Lion d’Or
From: Montreal, QC
When: Saturday February 15th 2014
TOTAL SCORE: Â 9/10
Style: Indie Alt Rock
Walking in, 15 minutes before show time, I found a full house of 250 people of every age and walk of life. They all met at the small and homey venue with a single intent in mind: Sam Roberts Band’s latest album launch. They all cheered, yelled out praises and shouted their love for the Montreal musician. Whoever said that this guy wouldn’t make it was clearly dead wrong, and the crowd was eager to show it. When looking around, it was easy to spot people in their twenties intermixed with a much older crowd, all dancing, bobbing heads and enjoying the showcase of the new album, Lo-Fantasy.
The band chose to play the entirety of Lo-Fantasy from start to finish and to have a four song encore, consisting of Let It In, Fixed to Ruin, Bridge to Nowhere and Don’t Walk Away Eileen. The album is the first album that was completely recorded in Montreal, specifically the Notre-Dame-de-Grace area of Montreal. Musically, it doesn’t stray too far from the band’s normal style but what Sam does, Sam does very well! The tunes are catchy; they are upbeat, with a message and are generally fun.
Sam Roberts is a humble and modest musician and he transfers that into his art in the best possible way. His entire band mixes jazz and rock and even some reggae into the fray. All inspirations meld to create his unique sound. It’s never about a big flashy show with this band; they are all about the music rather than the crazy stage antics. And that’s a perfect fit for their personality.
While explaining where he recorded the album, he said that Montreal is the only crowd that can understand and appreciate his plight, while making a quip about our current construction issues. He made many nods to Montreal places and current situations and what could aggravate Montrealers.
Later in the show, he explained that he named a song after a video game, Kid Icarus. He elaborated that the song came to be in a spontaneous occurrence while they were jamming four chords.
Finally, the song Never Enough is the one that sticks out in the entire album. It is a cautionary tale about life’s excess. Roberts explained that he always pictures a gambler when it involves this particular song. The band always has at least one song that hits home in some ways or brings out an important message and this is one of their best ones.
Modesty is hot. Instead of picking up a huge venue to launch a new album, Sam Roberts showed his modesty by picking a small, yet beautiful venue with a small capacity to release his new album. It gave a feeling of exclusivity and importance, but also showed that intimate is better and easier to get close to his fans. This is something I’ve noticed that Roberts gives a Â great deal of importance to, especially going to talk to his fans and shake as many hands as possible, and even sign autographs.
From start to finish the show was truly an amazing experience. Roberts as always shows that he is a truly kind-hearted soul with a lot of love to give, for his fans and his art. Â The ambiance was exquisite and perfect for this type of concert. It was perfectly planned to the T, making us feel like we are all one big family and that Sam Roberts is the gentle father-figure.
Written and Photographed by Andrej Ivanov[nggallery id=226]
Wavelength 14 Toronto music festival day 3 review
Wavelength Festival Day 3 was presented and centered on Weird Canada and the launch of their Wyrd Dystro. A non-for profit distribution service for independent artists around Canada, Wyrd Dystro is hoping to connect these artists with open ears across the country. With launches across all major Canadian cities, the one in Toronto took place at June Records. With a neat analogue-drone performance by Carl Didur, the celebration was truly in Weird Canada fashion.
The venue for the night was the Polish Combatants Hall. An all ages venue, a part of DIY culture stressed by Weird Canada, this cool little hall was converted into a total weirdo-psychedelic garage of mesmerizing colours, lights, and projections. Although slightly delayed due to a bit of disorganization, the night went smoothly and without too many hiccups. A few words from one of the head representatives of Wavelength got the whole night underway in the best of moods and clearly everyone was excited to be there and support a truly independent scene.
Messing around with antennae frequencies, and a cacophonous mess of equipment, Gambletron went to work like a mad scientist, crafting experimental sounds that covered the whole spectrum of pleasantly melodic to completely destructive.Â It was very interesting and never really got stale. Always mixing it up and with the added visual that accompanied here set, the whole scene was something between unsettlingly disturbing yet totally awesome.
Gambetron really set the tone for the night and with such innovative and unique techniques being put into her music, it’s no wonder she had the whole crowd under a trance. Combining harsh noise, trance, and some really hardcore tears and screeching, Gambletron showed just what it possible with a few dials, some knobs, and a ton of creativity and originality.
Petra Glynt continued a night of inspiringly original acts with her solo performance which was utterly powerful to say the least. With a single drum, a few sequencers and pedals, and an amazing light show, Glynt kept upping the ante. Her electronic infused tribal drumming seemed to touch a primal sense of celebration and dance in the audience and her intense vocals made her small figure seem a thousand times larger.
Great things come in small packages and her hypnotic chants and distorted fuzz meshed with the perfectly timed percussive rhythms had everyone bobbing their heads. Experimenting with her own sound and trying out some new setups did not seem to faze her at all. As if she herself was hypnotized and caught in a trance through performance, her glowing wide eyes had everyone’s attention.
Biblical brought the rock and roll of the night. Their tearing, 70’s inspired stoner-garage rock was a surprisingly refreshing standout of the night. Their guitar shredding, fast paced ruckus of a drummer, and raw vocals were nice to hear after a couple hours of mostly electronic based acts. They weren’t boundary pushing but instead were just plain fun and easy to absorb.
As well, they were extremely loud and shook everyone up like a rude awakening from the trance-inducing acts beforehand. Loud, abrasive, full of energy and ready to tear the whole place down, Biblical did rock and roll right and sure would have made their forefathers proud.
U.S Girls are a very interesting band with a unique sound. Working within a 60’s pop context but adding many contemporary elements, they have crafted a sound that it really hard to define. Something that fits both an early Sunday morning and even a late evening, U.S Girls were very pleasant to listen to and calm down to after the rambunctious doings of Biblical.
With wonderful harmonies and easy to follow choruses and melodies, U.S Girls were definitely the most “traditionally structured” group of the night but no less captivating.Â Breezy guitar, light percussion, and lovely nostalgic vocals, U.S Girls are sure to allow you to escape the harsh winter and bring you to a Californian paradise.
Endless sax loops paired with psychedelic projections sent a shock wave through the crowd.Â The Arcade Fire sideman/multi-instrumentalist didn’t waste anytime warming up the crowd with his Alto.Â Stetson opened with a looping and technical prowess that impressed but was nothing compared to what came next.Â Perhaps it’s the $10,000 price tag or the fact that the damn things can weigh upwards of 40lbs, but you rarely see a Bass Sax in a live setting.Â The groupie hipsters and guests of friends, who wereÂ mumbling near the back started to pay attention the moment those low frequencies hit the air.Â This beast of an instrument can go as low as 55hertz!Â For you non geeks out there that is a sound you “feel” more than you hear.Â Â Â In fact while there was some sound coming from the less than adequate sound system they rented, there was enough low end coming off the stage to hit your gut from the back of the room.
A man of few words, Stetson stopped to address the crowd a couple of times: “It’s awesome to be back up here and awesome to be in this town.Â Â Thank you to everyone for having me here and for listening.”
Although there was no clarinet, french horn or flute tonight there was enough going on with the loops and improvisation from the two horns he did use to keep most of the room engaged.Â Â A few people seemed to get a little lost half way through as the room slowly thinned, this music is not for everyone. Â Being the last performance of the night and being this heavy (in Miles Davis terminology – this guy is a heavy Motherfu*ker!) meant many tired ears.Â Â Â However the more than half that stuck it out until the end got an aural massage of a lifetime.
What makes Wavelength so great is the diversity they bring to the table. None of these artists really sounded the same or were at all redundant and did not exactly play to any particular taste. Cool visuals and even more awesome and captivating music, Night 3 was a success on many accounts despite the slight delay. A little more the sonically adventurous, Wavelength did not disappoint for those looking for something different and willing to discover.
Wavelength 14 wraps up tonight at the Garrison
Review By: Joe Modzelewski
Photos By: Tiana Feng
Down with Webster at the Virigin Mobile Corona Theater – Montreal Live Review
Who: Down with Webster
From: Toronto, Ontario
Where: Virigin Mobile Corona Theatre
When: Friday February 14th 2013
TOTAL SCORE: 4.6/10
[starreviewmulti id=3 tpl=20]
Style: Pop Rap Rock
Crowd: The crowd consisted of a three-quarter full house of teenagers. They were mostly the “skater”/Justin Bieber-esque type kids that one would expect to be the cool kids in high school. It is safe to say that they were really into it, jumping and cheering and singing along. The crowd did mainly consist of 15-20 year old girls, and that got quite loud quite fast.
Technicalities: The band has a very fun sound and had a great interaction with the crowd. Rapper Martin “Bucky” Seja went so far as to touch the head of one of the girls in the crowd. The band has managed to keep its energetic performances over the years. This was improved more so by a great performance by drummer Andrew Martino, who performed a cover of Pac-Man and Smells like Teen Spirit. Despite this, it became rather obvious that Down with Webster does not play their instruments. This became rather clear when there was an incongruity between what guitarist Patrick “Pat” Gillett played. Having played guitar myself for well over 10 years, I noticed the incongruity and was shocked to find that something that sounded clearly like it should a guitar “tapping” was not played as such, let alone in any technique that could emulate this. I was also disappointed to find out that there is a potential that the band was in fact lip-syncing, but that is yet to be confirmed. Ultimately that proved to be a huge disappointment in a band that had a lot of potential at one time.
Memorable Moment: It was quite impressive to see their stage performances and especially to hear Gillett perform an acoustic cover of Up All Night, by Daft Punk, posted on YouTube earlier this year.
Sex Appeal: There is one member in the band that does deserve a very special shout out, and that person is drummer Andrew Martino, who rocked one of the biggest and coolest afros this side of Canada. Might not be a new fashion trend, but absolutely noteworthy.
Overall: This band needs to re-invent itself, because they became a band that advocates indirectly underage drinking (bringing bottles of Jamieson on-stage and taking swigs from them, and throwing SOLO cups at a crowd of very obviously underage kids), with a no longer as much fun as it is obnoxious attitude. Rapper Bucky even dragged a girl from the back-staged (who seemed very reluctant to come out in public), and then semi-serenaded and kissed her. Bassist Tyler Armes sported a cap stating “I wanna f**k Rhianna”.
Whether or not these are gimmicks, the antics are very unimpressive and show – after an enormous success, such as playing the MMVAs — that this band is at a “make it or break it” point in their career.
Written and photographed by Andrej Ivanov[nggallery id=225]
Wavelength 14 Toronto Music Festival Day 2 Review
Wavelength Toronto Music Festival Day 2 Review — Matrox, Most People, Weaves, Odonis Odonis & DIANA
Day two of the festival began with a rocky start, with headliner Marnie Stern being forced to cancel after the massive storm system shaking the USA lead to her flight (along with countless others) to cancel. Following that, technical difficulties delayed Matrox’s set, but once they got sorted out, the rest of lineup performing the intimate venue without a hitch.
Variety was the name of the game, from the electronic Matrox robots to DIANA’s soulful and jazzy performance. The set list perfectly captured the overall vibe of Toronto’s indie music scene with the new groups looking to defy genre stereotypes and create something that is uniquely their own.
After initial technical difficulties, Matrox pulled a quick recovery with their otherworldly electric sound. Dressed to the nines in full robo-gear, the audience bopped along to the group’s mechanic movements.
While most of the set was pre-recorded sound, synthesized vocals and live saxophone (somehow played through a long robo mouth tube) provided a great additional layer to the performance and the crowd was left ready for more.
Familiar to the Toronto scene and Wavelength in particular, Most People is part of the festival’s Incubator series and have worked with the festival’s crew to help them get their first album produced.
The Incubation period seems to have paid off, as along with more instruments than a symphony, Most People brought an undeniable energy to their psychedelic-pop tunes, taking the audience for a fun-filled ride.
With their music video for “Motorcycle” featuring an animated biker frog’s love affair with the aforementioned vehicle, and a toxic-pop sound to back it up perfectly, I was ready to expect the unexpected with Weaves. Keeping with the varied theme, the group also star in a show (about a band, of course), and their performing abilities transferred seamlessly on stage.
Their set list covered a whole set of sounds, with hints of R&B, rock and pop smoothed together.
From their debut album, Hollandaze, Odonis Odonis have a varied sound, from pop-y surf rock to dark shoegaze punk. The group has made a point of making music their own way and not conforming to a certain genre, and their efforts left the audience on the edge of their seats (if anyone was sitting, that is).
Regardless of the track they pumped out, the band carried an undeniable energy, which was easily transferred across the music hall. Despite energy and variety, many of the underlying beats and loops remained consistent throughout the set and the vocals were often lost behind the heavy instrumentals.
DIANA slowed things down and ended the night with a uniquely spirited and soulful performance. Carmen Elle’s flowing voice and expressive presence sent the audience into a trance filled haze. Although the deep bass and saxophone occasionally overpowered her, the contrast still created a pleasantly unique sound. The audience drifted back and forth between floating with Carmen’s voice and being grounded by deeper bass and saxophone waves.
From a distance, the overall performance carried a romantic vibe, but a closer listen brought forward lyrics of deeper inner romantic struggle. Together, this created a hypnotic effect, which the audience enjoyed to the fullest degree.
Tonight there will be performances by: Colin Stetson, US Girls, Biblical, Petra Glynt, Gambletron at Polish Combatants Hall, 206 Beverley St.
Review and Photos: Judi Zienchuck
Children of Bodom North American tour starts today in Quebec City. To celebrate the beginning of the tour the band released an official lyric video for “Scream for Silence”.[youtube id=”uI2zH7KgGg8″ width=”620″ height=”360″]
“We’re so psyched to be back on the road after a two month break and this being the first headlining tour in North America forÂ Halo of Blood,” shares frontman / guitaristÂ Alexi Laiho. “It’s great to feel rested and ready to kill again! See you soon!“