Friday, March 7, 2008

No Age, Deerhoof at the Phoenix

The standard axiom of punk rock is that it can't be replicated in the studio, that one needs to experience the full raw power live. This was not the case with No Age, performing at the Phoenix in Toronto yesterday, who were unable to recreate the subtle nuances which made their debut Weirdo Rippers so powerful.

Having to mic someone who is both drumming and singing at the same time is always difficult, and the resulting EQ is bound to lose something in the process. It must be particularly difficult for a drummer who uses his kit as a lead instrument more than a backing track.

The show was still plenty impressive and the song Everybody’s Down, even half as good as the recorded version, is still killer. The duo were dynamic enough and had a comfortable, endearing stage presence. Rather than the rehearsed banter of the act that preceded them ("Are you ready to get pregnant, Toronto?" haha. Did they steal that from Tracy Morgan?) No Age managed a casual rapport with the audience and even called out to two of our fave local restaurants - Fresh On Crawford and Will Munro's Beaver (twice!).

Headliners Deerhoof also felt like a bit of a disappointment, so maybe I was just tired or grumpy. The band once claimed their two main influences as Yes and Yoko Ono (too funny) but it felt like Yes was winning out yesterday. Many of the songs became jams, with extended instrumental breaks and multiple time changes. Plus their synchronized lead lines started to wear thin after a while.

A few tracks from their 2003 album Apple 0’ stood out, especially Dummy Discards a Heart which was a perfect showcase for the group, singer Satomi Matsuzaki in particular, a diminutive figure who guided the band through their set with a series of secret hand gestures.

A few pics of the No Age show can be seen here.

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