A painting of me

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

   21 July 2005, lunch time

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


“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.


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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