Random Massive Attack

    4 August 2006, early afternoon

Tricky appears on several tracks on Massive Attacks first CD. It’s unclear whether he was an official member of the band, or like Horace Andy, someone the group worked with. When it came time to do the second album Tricky decides to part ways with the group, but left them with some lyrics/music to work with. (Or perhaps he was contractually obligated to leave what he recorded behind.) The songs Karmacoma and Eurochild feature the same rhymes from Tricky as Overcome and Hell is Roud the Corner, respectively. I like Karmacoma more than Overcome, and Hell is Roud the Corner more than Eurochild, though all four songs are really quite good. Back to Blue Lines: there are a ton of great songs on that album. Five Man Army is one of my favourites, but the true classic has to be Unfinished Sympathy.

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At Your Best

   19 June 2006, early afternoon

Aaliyah put out a song on her debut album called At Your Best; it’s actually a cover of an older Isley Brothers track. Aaliyah’s version of the song opens with her singing, “Let Me Know”, acappella. I think it’s one of my favourite openings to a song. Slip and Slide use this sample in a jungle track they put out titled Let Me Know. Their song opens in much the same way, but instead of a slow-groove sort of R&B song kicking in, you get snares and a heavy bass-line. I actually heard their version of the song first. R Kelly remixed the song as well to produce a New Jack Swing version of the song. I feel like going to an old-school R&B club night. In Sydney every other club seemed to play R&B from the late 80s & early 90s.

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Micheal Jackson is Awesome

    3 June 2006, lunch time

Back at home this weekend, Ahilan showed me a clip of Micheal Jackson performing in New York back in 2001. Micheal Jackson is the greatest. I really don’t think I can truly respect someone who doesn’t like Micheal Jackson. After watching that video, I watched his performace at the 25th Aniversary of Motown show. That was the first time he ever did the Moonwalk. Then I watched him and his brothers perform I Want You Back, which is also amazing. You should definetly watch his performace at the 1988 Grammy Awards. He’s singing Man in the Mirror; it’s a very good performance. I think 1988 was a good year for Jackson. There is so much good stuff on YouTube.

(I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Emm Gryner’s brilliant cover of Beat It, which is so damn good.)

Update June 25th 2009: RIP Michael Jackson.

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Live Forever

   28 April 2006, late evening

I am really big Britpop fan. When I was in grade 9 Portishead’s album was getting some press here in Toronto, as was Elastica’s. Now, this was back when I was broke all the time, so I couldn’t get myself both albums. I ended up buying one album for myself, and one album for Dave, for his birthday. In hindsight, I should have kept the Elastica album, and given Dave the Portishead one. (Dave ended up selling me the Elastica album a few years later.) I think both albums are great. I spent the next few years listening to lots of Britpop, basically till the whole movement imploded. I waited patiently for Elastica’s follow-up album, and when it became clear it wasn’t coming, I started listening to electronic music: trip hop and jungle mostly. Most of that music also came out of the UK.

The film Live Forever tracks the rise and fall of Britpop. There are a fair number of big name rock stars interviewed, but I thought the breadth of interviews seemed a bit lacking; Oasis, Blur and Pulp were not the be all end all of Britpop. I would have preferred more people were interviewed. I’d be interested to hear what Elastica and Menswe@r would have to say of the phenomenon, since I like them both a lot, and they both sort of came and went with movement. There are a ton of bands that really didn’t last after ‘97 passed; it would have been good to hear from them. Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack makes a few appearances in the film, which are entertaining if only for being so out of place. There is an interview with the editor of Loaded talking about all the cocaine he did to get the issues out. There are a slew of really great lines in the film. The movie ends with Pop taking over Britain. It’s a bit sad really.

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Magneta Lane and the Awesome Team @ the Horseshoe

    3 March 2006, the wee hours

This was the third time I saw Magneta Lane in concert. The first time was at the Drake, on a trip to see Femme Generation. The second time was at the El Mocambo. On that particular night Lexi complained that she couldn’t sing, her throat hurt too much. Tonight at the Horseshoe she was drinking tea as her throat was sore yet again. It is understandable I suppose. I don’t know how Hole, Nirvana, or any such band where the singer needs to do a lot of yelling can put on a show night after night. Magneta Lane did a great job tonight. If you haven’t seen them live yet you are really missing out. They are a very cool band. I can see them getting really big, so you should try and catch them before they stop playing at venues like the Horseshoe.

The Awesome Team put on a really good show as well. I like it when you can tell a band is really into their music, and is really enjoying playing infront of you. The Awesome Team aren’t really my sort of band, but I think if you like Blink 182 and that sort of music, you may enjoy them. (Mind you, they may not sound anything like Blink 182. I’m really bad at pinning down the genre particular bands belong to.)

The best piece of music I heard tonight was from a homeless guy playing The Man Who Sold the World on the South-West side of Queen and University. I walked about 50 feet or so past him, then stopped, and walked back to give him a dollar. I wish I gave him more money. He sang the song really well.

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Closer to the Heart V

   11 February 2006, the wee hours

I just got back from Close to the Heart V. I watched the show with my buddy John. It’s a benefit concert for the Regent Park School of Music. As you can guess, this is the fifth year the show has tried to raise money. Tonight, they had a pretty stellar line up of Canadian musicians doing covers of their favourite Canadian songs. The show was un-fucking-believable. I finally got to see Ivana Santilli in person; meow. I also got to speak briefly with Esthero, after I snapped a photo of her with two girls I met at the show (who wanted me to take their photo with Esthero). It was a really fun night.

Update: I’ve posted photos from the night on Flickr.

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Daysleeper

   17 December 2005, lunch time

I bought R.E.M.’s greatest hits album Thursday night. I had heard it playing at the Yellow Griffin a few weeks back, and wanted to get it ever since. In the liner notes for the album Peter Buck explains the back-story for each song. he has this to say about Orange Crush:

I must have played this song onstage over three hundred times, and I still don’t know what the fuck it’s about.

The album is really good. I’m enjoying it a lot.

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Echo and the Bunnymen @ The Carlu

   25 November 2005, late evening

The Carlu is on the top floor of one of the older buildings in Toronto. It has a very rich history; after several years of neglect, the venue was restored in 2003 and used to host events ever since. It’s a strange, but cool, place to have a concert. I went there last night to see Echo and the Bunnymen. The band was big in the 80s, but for whatever reason never got really big; a true indie band I suppose. A strange mishmash of people filled the venue. Heather, Ben, and I were probably some of the younger people in the crowd. We bought some 7 dollar Stellas and waited for the band to play. The opening act was reminiscent of Guns and Roses and Radiohead stuck together. They played a short set. Echo and the Bunnymen didn’t take the stage till 11:00, which was quite late considering this was a wednesday night show; I would have expected with an older crowd out they would have started things earlier. I suppose that doesn’t matter, they were quite good live. They look and sound very much like a hip 80s band. You may recall hearing the song The Killing Moon in the movie Donnie Darko. They played that song, which was from 1984, and what I would imagine was a mix of old and new songs. I liked their stuff, and will need to track down some compilations or something. They’re touring in support of a new album called Siberia. If you have a chance to see them, I think you should. They are definitely a cool band.

Echo and the Bunnymen at the Carlu.

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Tangiers @ Lee's Palace

    8 October 2005, mid-morning

The Tangiers at Lees Palace

Go see the Tangiers live. You would be a fool—a damn fool—not too.

Read the rest of this post. (582 words)

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Metric @ The Phoenix

    1 October 2005, mid-afternoon

I suppose at this point in time it is pretty cliché to have a crush on Emily Haines. Nevertheless, there is definitely something about her. The Metric concert at the Pheonix tonight was amazing.

Read the rest of this post. (466 words)

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Pitchfork: M.I.A. Interview

   29 September 2005, mid-afternoon

I didn’t feel good growing up back in the day in London with Sri Lankans, ‘cause they’d look down on us. They’d be like, “Oh, you haven’t got a Dad. My Daddy’s a doctor, and we’re going to private school, and then I’m going to Cambridge to be a doctor.” And I knew when I was a kid that was never going to happen to me. I had no parents helping me with my homework. My parents never came to a parents’ meeting in school, I went to my own—“How’m I doing this year?” [laughs] Then when I started doing art, and everyone was like, “Oh my God, your children are so thick that they have to take art!”

Excerpt from a great interivew with M.I.A. at Pitchfork Media. I can’t stress how true this quote is. I think all of our family friends in England have children who are doctors or lawyers now. In Canada, there are just too many Tamil people around for anyone to be in your face about what your kids are up to. [via Ananthan]

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M.I.A. @ The Pheonix

   28 September 2005, early morning

“Your show was really good”

“Thanks,” MIA replied. She then turned to Parthi and said, “See, your friend is keeping it simple.” Parthi had just finished lecturing MIA on how she should manage her career.

What a night out. Through a series of random flukes, Parthi managed to make the MIA concert one of the most interesting nights out I’ve ever had.

Read the rest of this post. (1084 words)

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Portishead

   15 August 2005, late evening

There are a few bands whose passing I really do lament. One such band is Portishead. Everytime I listen to their albums I hope that they will get back together and make a new album. It probably won’t happen. Apparently both Beth Gibbons and Geoff Barrows don’t get along all too well. Least they made two really good albums before parting company.

Did I see a moment with you
In a half lit world
I’m frightened to believe
But I must try
If I stumble if I fall
I’m reaching out in this mourning air

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VHS or Beta and controller.controller @ Lee's Palace

   21 July 2005, early morning

“Could I get the VHS or Beta CD,” I asked.

“Sure.”

“Uh—Hey, I like your band too.”

“Thanks,” replied Nirmala Basnayake, from controller.controller. She smiled and sort of curtsied.

I already owned the controller.controller CD, so I didn’t want to buy it again. I also didn’t want her to think I liked VHS or Beta more than controller.controller. I’m not sure why I felt like this; I doubt not being accepted by strangers keeps her up at night, but I still felt obliged to throw out the compliment—it was true anyway.

VHS or Beta

Camouflage Unit were the opening act for the night. Dave and I arrived midway through their set. They were quite good, though a little bit unpolished when compared to the two bands that would follow them. I will have to see them again next time they’re playing in the city; they have a very interesting sound.

VHS or Beta came on shortly after Camouflage Unit, but spent a very long time doing a sound check. When they started playing I turned to Dave and said “They sound like the Cure.” He agreed. The lead singer sounded like he was channeling Robert Smith’s voice—it was uncanny.

Mind you, the band was good in its own right. Dave and I were at the front of the stage, surrounded by people dancing along to their music. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. The band were good live; looking and sounding like something out of the 80s, but not quite.

Touring alongside VHS or Beta was the photographer from Last Night Party. Shima will be glad to know that the party Dave and I were at was nothing like the parties featured on the web site.

controller.controller

The band Dave and I had come to see were controller.controller. It had been a pleasant surprise that VHS or Beta had been so good, but we had come expecting good things from controller.controller. When we saw the band last they were the opening act for Esthero and put on a really good show.

The band took to the stage more or less one by one. The drummer got on stage last, wearing a balaclava. The last time Dave and I saw the band, he had some sort of mask on. I guess it’s something he always does. The lead singer, whom I spoke to earlier, was wearing a white tank top and mini-skirt, and stood out on stage. She would have stood out anyway I suppose, being a small brown girl surrounded by some tall-ass white dudes.

The band opened with a new song, which was a great way to start their show. They seem to have written a lot of new material, and I would imagine have enough songs for a full length album now. They alternated, more or less, between old songs and new songs. People were really enjoying the show. Lee’s Palace was totally rammed full of people. Dave and I, in front of the stage, discussed what we’d do if there was a stampede and we needed to avoid getting crushed. Well, I discussed as much anyway. Everyone was dancing around us.

The stage at Lee’s is really small, which I think suits a band like controller.controller. Nirmala Basnayake dances, quite seductively I might add, through most of the songs the band plays. The bass player and one of the guitarists would flail around on stage like rock stars when the songs got particularly intense. I thought on more than one occasions one of the guitarists would smack the lead singer in the head with the neck of his guitar, the band were so close together, weaving in between one and other, and so in to their music. You should go see controller.controller live. It’s quite the show.

The show ended late, and Dave and I made our way home. Hopefully Dave got back to Scarborough before the TTC grinded to a halt.

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K-OS @ The Molson Amphitheater

   16 July 2005, the wee hours

Dave and I saw K-OS perform tonight. The very talented John Legend opened for him. I hadn’t heard of John Legend before, but apparently he sings the hooks in all your favourite songs. K-OS put on a good show, with a entourage of B-Boys, a full band, and an excellent DJ all accompanying him. The third or forth song of the night was Commandante (track 6 on Joyful Rebellion), which begins with the words, “This is an Anthem.” For tonight, K-OS decided to throw in a, ”—as in Fuck George Bush,” before continuing with the rest of the song. The crowd, myself included, cheered. One of the members of K-OS’s band was from Scarborough. When K-OS mentioned this, it drew the loudest cheer of the night. I enjoyed the show a lot; K-OS is quite good. It is a shame that he has gotten so popular the only way to see him is in a huge venue like the Amphitheater. I like smaller venues much more.

I continued the night at the Horseshoe to see the Deadly Snakes (I missed the Tangiers) and then ended the night at Sneaky Dees, where I had a very satisfying Coke-a-Cola.

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Ingratiate Oneself

   24 June 2005, late evening

I basically own all of Faye Wong’s albums. I’m not sure if there is any other singer in Hong Kong as talented as her. She has enjoyed mainstream success in the country, but at the same time manages to hang on to her artistic credibility—this is quite rare in the Hong Kong pop music scene. Between 1994 and 1996 she put out some of the best albums I’ve ever heard, starting with Random Thinking and ending with the absolutely brilliant Impatience.

I found myself listening to Ingratiate Oneself this week. Its kind of cool listening to an album you haven’t heard in ages—especially since I hardly listen to Chinese music anymore. Much of the album is pretty standard HK-pop fare, though you can see signs of the direction her music would take once she left Cineoply and was given a lot more creative freedom at EMI. Standout songs include the bizarre Exit and the charming I Fear. Her cover of Here’s Where the Story Ends by the Sundays is also quite cool. (It was—and perhaps still is—very popular in Hong Kong to cover English music in Cantonese, while leaving the arrangements identical. Faye Wong sang the version of Dreams by the Cranberries you may have heard in Chungking Express.)

In many ways I find listening to Chinese music very nostalgic; it was very much a part of who I was when I was in high school.

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Juana Molina @ The Horseshoe

   14 June 2005, mid-morning

I met up with Rishi late on Sunday night to attend a concert at the Horseshoe; the last band I saw there was fucking amazing. The singer we were going to see was Juana Molina from Argentina. She is apparently a former sketch comedy star turned singer. Sounds like a strange transition to make, I know, but she has certainly done a great job making it.

Her set was very acoustic. She stood alone on stage with a guitar around her neck, a lone microphone, and an assortment of keyboards and other electronic devices to her side. She would sit and play some music on a keyboard for a few moments, very melodious ambient stuff, then the background music would kick in, she would turn to the microphone, pick up her guitar, and starting singing and playing. It was very impressive to watch. All the more so when I realized the stuff she was playing at the start of her songs were all the loops that would play during her songs. What I had assumed was preprogrammed background music was in fact the things she was playing at the start of each song. Her live show was really quite amazing.

I liked all the songs she did. Rishi called me up on very short notice, and I’m glad he did. It was one of the most unique shows I’ve been to. She is playing in Montreal in July. If you are in the city, you should check her out.

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OK Go and Kaiser Chiefs @ The Mod Club

   30 May 2005, mid-morning

A freak accident involving a CD stand resulted in my ending up with tickets to see Kaiser Chiefs at The Mod Club last night. Heather, Ben and I had planned to meet at 9:00, in order the see the opening act, but ended up meeting closer to 9:30. When we walked in to the club, the band was midway through their set. We should have met at 9:00.

OK Go were the opening act for the Kaiser Chiefs. The band have a very britpop sound to them, despite the fact they are originally from Chicago. The band’s music was really good; I enjoyed all their songs. The band was really great on stage; they were very lively performers. The thing that really makes them stand out, and will make them stand out in my mind till the end of time, was how they ended the set. After playing their last song of the night the band started to pack up. They asked the guy running the show, “Do we have a few minutes left?” Then, to the crowd, “I think we have a few minutes left.” They then cleared out some space on the stage. “We’re going to do something a little bit different.” I was expecting an acoustic set — silly me. “We’re going to dance.” And dance they did. They had a serious dance routine. The bass player lip-singed along to a song I didn’t know, the whole group dancing in unison. It was fucking awesome. After the show they were outside chatting with the crowd and signing up people for their mailing list. They came off as a very humble group. I really hope these guys end up successful, they seemed like a really nice group of people.

Kaiser Chiefs were up next, and really had to work hard to follow OK Go. I hadn’t heard of the band before, but Dave said they were good, and Heather and Laura had been bigging them up the week before. From their opening song to their last I thought they were great. They had some serious energy. The band are very much a britpop group, all dressed up in suits and ties singing rock music and dancing around on stage. The lead singer kept on mocking the crowd out the night before, letting us know that we were in fact the most bestest crowd ever. I wonder if he was being sincere? The band had the crowd dancing around for most of their set, and the lead singer got everyone to throw their hands up in the air for their last number. They were a great band live, so if you can see them in your city you definitely should. I thoroughly enjoyed their show.

It was quite the Sunday. I’m listening to my new “Ok Go” CD — I couldn’t resist their dance moves.

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The Bicycles, Republic of Safety, and SS Cardiacs @ Sneaky Dee's

   27 May 2005, mid-morning

My friends and I headed to Sneaky Dee’s last night to have a few drinks and hear a few bands play. An old friend of mine, Kate, is in a band called Republic of Safety, and I had wanted to hear them play for quite some time. They were one of the opening acts for SS Cardiacs, the feature act of the night. It was SS Cardiacs CD release party.

There were actually two opening acts that night. The first act we heard was a band called the Bicycles. They make pop music. Since they aren’t on a major label, one might say they make indie-pop music. I think there were five people in the band, though it seemed like people would just wander on to the stage to take part in the show. Everyone in the band seemed to take a turn singing lead. They were really good. Of course, I like bubbly pop music. Also, the band earns bonus points in my books for being ethnically diverse.

Kate’s band was up next. They were really good. I think I like the way they sound live a lot more than the way they sound on the tracks they put on their web site. They had a much more punk sound to them live which I really enjoyed. I also thought the lead singers stage presence was quite cool.

By the time SS Cardiacs came on it was fairly late—this being a week night and all. Heather headed out first, followed shortly after by Laura and Shannon. Matt and I stayed to hear a little bit of SS Cardiacs before we also took off for the night. I thought SS Cardiacs were pretty good, though I didn’t really listen to them enough to get a good feel for the band. I’ll have to look for them next time they are playing I suppose.

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British Sea Power @ Lee's Palace

   18 May 2005, mid-afternoon

Last night, after watching Crash and eating Chinese food with Dave, I headed off to Lee’s palace to try and catch British Sea Power in concert. Laura and Heather, two friends of Tyler’s I have successfully annexed (or have they annexed me?) already had tickets to the show, so I thought I’d try my luck getting in. Sometimes I’m lucky. I walked to the door, and the guy in front of me was asking the bouncer how he can return a ticket he had bought online. That was convenient. $15 dollars later I was inside. I found my friends and listened to the opening act play. They were good, though I don’t think the girls were as impressed. British Sea Power were quite good; definitely a band my brother would have liked. They played British pop/rock music. Heather thinks the lead singer sounds a lot like David Bowie, and I would agree. I also think he sounds a bit like Bryan Adams. The show was quite long, and quite good. They made their exit in a somewhat cliche but nevertheless impressive crazy rock-and-roll fashion: climbing on top of speakers, jumping into the crowd, and basically acting like maniacs. Torontoist has put up a few MP3s of the bands music, so you can give them a listen.

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Shoestrings

   10 May 2005, mid-morning

I’m in love with the Shoestrings. I can’t stop listening to their CD.

I first heard them when I was in Waterloo for my first year of university. I was living with a fellow called Steve who wanted to go see a fellow called Momus at what would end up being my favourite place in Waterloo, Jane Bond. Momus is a one-eyed synth pop-star song-writer extraordinaire. I enjoyed his performance, but was more in love with the soft-spoken Japanese French starlet Kahimi Karie. I thought her wispy voice and bubbly pop music was excellent. I bought her CD KKKKK as soon as her set was finished. It came with another album, a compilation called Was it Him or His Music. My favourite track on that CD was The theme from Kiss Me Goodnight. The song is sappy, but thoroughly charming.

5 or 6 Years later, Le Grande Magistery re-launched their web site. Le Grande Magistery are the same label Stars put music out on way back when. CDs on the site were on sale for $15 bucks, which included shipping to Canada. I hate paying for shipping. It’s the biggest scam in the world of e-commerce. The free shipping was enough for me to shell out my money for the Shoestrings first CD. I hadn’t heard anything on the CD, and the sample MP3 on the site didn’t work, but I guessed it would be good.

And the CD is good. It opens with a short acoustic song, Rollercoaster, featuring the feminine half of the Shoestrings, Rose, singing a few words. It then jumps into a bouncy pop number Coffee. My favourite track on the CD is Whipped, a canonical pop-song if there ever was one. The music is quite light and accoustic for the most part. The album ends with a more melancholy number 1st Grade Love Affair, which still seems to fit with the spirit of the album.

You can grab a copy of the CD from Le Grand Magistery. I imagine they aren’t going to press another one anytime soon, so you should grab a copy while you can.

When I feel your presence
brush along side my body
I feel, I feel content.
When you whisper in my ear
I hear the oceans in the sea shells
I feel, I feel content. — Oceans In the Sea Shell by Shoestrings

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ABBA

   23 April 2005, lunch time

I watched Mamma Mia with Shima last night. The musical takes place at a wedding; the first act is the day before the wedding, the second act is the day of. The story is simple, but funny enough. There aren’t any flashy dance sequences or crazy sets; I don’t think the show needs them. The show is of course written by the two Bs in ABBA. As such, the music is top-notch. It’s interesting to see how they managed to work all the music into the story. I don’t remember the last time I listened to a song by ABBA, but it was really nice to hear so many of them again. I don’t think I appreciate just how strong an emotional attachment I have to the band. I think just like talking smack, loving ABBA is something I picked up from my mother.

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She Keeps, Standing There

    9 April 2005, the wee hours

I saw three bands tonight. The last of the three was Magneta Lane, who I had seen a couple months back at the Drake Hotel. They’re my band of the moment, probably because they remind me of my most favouritest band ever, Elastica: they both play short songs, and there are 3 girls in each band. Actually, Elastica had a 4th member, a guy, but that’s neither here nor there. Actually, I think Magneta Lane are probably more reminiscent of Hole than Elastica. Well, actually, I think making comparisons like this is probably a little silly, but what can you do? Perhaps I can work the word actually into one more sentence? Here goes: I actually think I simply like the band’s melancholy lyrics. I am a fan of all things vaguely depressing after-all.

She keeps, standing there, waiting to be noticed.

In-between sets, I would head upstairs to chat with Matt and Neil, who were spinning for their Dynamite Soul night. It was a quiet night for them, so I got a chance to chat with them both, which was nice.

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Emm Gryner and Matt Barber @ Hugh's Room

   30 March 2005, early morning

In an email entitled Hotness, I sent my friends the following:

Emm Gryner is pure hotness, and apparently she is a good singer to boot. So, does anybody want to go to the following: Emm Gryner (fiercely independent alt-pop songster & former Bowie backup singer) & Matthew Barber (indie rock heartthrob) @ Hugh’s Room

Dave and I had saw Emm Gryner present an award at the Toronto Indie Music awards before the Esthero Concert we went to. Dave was surprised I had no idea who she was. She was quite hot, so I was disappointed I couldn’t place her. Apparently she put out some sort of popular single when we were in high school.

My friend Mezan complains that no one listens when he tries to turn them on to something new and cool—or at the very least, that I don’t. He told me about threadless, metafilter, and countless other things, years before I stumbled on them myself. I feel the same way when it comes to dragging my friends out. I try to get my friends to go to concerts with me, to shows I know they would like. Since they live in Scarborough (miles from downtown) I usually go alone. Well, I suppose it’s a weak analogy, since I’m just being lazy while they have a good reason for staying in. I guess I should have just said: I ended up going out alone to the concert.

When I arrived, Matt Barber had already taken the stage. Matt Barber sings folk music I suppose. I say that, because he was performing alone on stage with a guitar. The set really showed off his voice and his songs. Barber’s set was excellent. He has a great voice. I can’t say I’m a big fan of folk music, that is to say, I don’t go out of my way to listen to it, but I enjoy good music when I hear it.

Gryner took the stage next. Again, she played alone on stage with a guitar, and at times a piano. I enjoyed her set a lot. Like Barber, she has a great voice, and the lyrics to her songs are quite good. And, as I had expected, she was looking hot. A girl in the audience yelled as much out midway through the concert. She smiled, and simply replied to the crowd, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I should warn you that some of this banter has been scripted.” She has a good stage presence, and was a lot of fun to watch.

Hugh’s Room is a great venue for concerts. The layout of the building is just right. There is a raised stage in the back right corner of the building. It’s surrounded by tables and chairs, and those tables and chairs are surrounded by another set of tables and chairs, slightly elevated. From almost any spot in the venue you should have a clear view of the band you have come to see. The sound system was also excellent. Judging by the praise from the singers that night, it may have had as much to do with the sound engineer, Marty, as it did with the speakers and what have you.

Matt Barber singing in Hugh's Room

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Femme Generation and Magneta Lane @ The Drake Hotel

   26 February 2005, the wee hours

Some people at the Drake Hotel Underground

Dave sent me an ICQ messsage telling me he wouldn’t come downtown to see Femme Generation tonight. I suppose I don’t blame him, the trek from Scarborough to Downtown Toronto is long to say the least. I was torn as to whether I should go out alone or not. I discussed the matter online with Shima for some time. Since the last time I went out by myself worked out well enough I decided why not try going out by myself once more. Plus it was Friday.

I arrived at the Drake at 9:00. This was my second time there, but this time I was in the Underground, not the Lounge. The show had been postponed an hour, probably because the place was still quite empty.

I got a beer and stood at a table by myself. Two other fellows joined me since I happened to grab the last empty table. I didn’t feel like chatting, so I just drank my beer quietly. Then I noticed Neil across the dance floor. Neil is an old friend from Woburn and Waterloo who I haven’t seen in quite some time. I got his attention and we started chatting. He was there with his girlfriend Helen and his friend Phaedra. So, as luck would have it, I didn’t have to spend the evening by myself.

Femme Generation on stage at the Drake Hotel

Femme Generation

Close to 10:30 Femme Generation finally stepped up on stage. This was the second time I saw them perform. I thought they were amazing the first time, and was looking forward to seeing them again. There is something about hearing a band live that you just can’t beat. We made our way to the front, in part because most of us were short, in part because its the polite thing to do when the band requests people move up.

The band played several songs from their EP Circle Gets the Square, and a couple songs I didn’t recognize. I’m hoping they put out an LP some time soon. The keyboards and guitar were sounding great; the bass player is a maniac on stage. They put on a really good show.

Femme Generation are playing at the Comfort Zone March 5th as part of the Canadian Music Week. If you are in the city, they are worth checking out.

Lexi from Magneta Lane singing at the Drake Hotel

Magneta Lane

The ladies of Magneta Lane were up next. The trio make rock music—not quite punk, but it’s loud and distorted. One day I will be able to tell you more clearly what a band sounds like, but I still haven’t mastered that skill yet. Thankfully you can just listen to them at their myspace homepage.

They sounded a lot more raw and a bit less professional than Femme Generation. The lead singers microphone wasn’t powered enough for the first half of their set, which made it a pain to hear her sing. Of course, I think part of the bands appeal is probably that they sound a bit raw—they aren’t a progressive rock band.

The lead singer, Lexi, has a delightfully low and flat sounding voice. If I may digress for a moment, the lead singer’s “name” is Lexi Valentine. She reminded me a bit of Shima’s friend Roshanak. She didn’t look like a Lexi—at all. The drummer was called Nadia, and she looked like a Nadia. If the band is two-thirds Middle-Eastern I would give them even more props. You don’t see too many slightly ethnic rock bands out and about in the city. But, as I said, I digress. (Update: I met Lexi. That’s her real name. I couldn’t believe it.)

The band played a short set, in part because their songs are all pretty short. I thought they were quite good. I bought their CD which Neil’s friend Phaedra took around and got signed by all the band members. (Shima would be proud I didn’t go talk to any strange women.)

On a side node, the ladies are on Paperbag Records, which is the same record label as Plastikman, Controler.Controler, and Stars.

After the show we all headed off to the Gladstone, which has a karaoke night on Friday. I will need to write about that one day, but not today.

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