Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spellcaster


Summer officially arrived this weekend, which means Toronto will be animated by so much more than just garbage smell for the next few months. In fact, I had a great weekend, of which I will spare the details here but will certainly share in person for interested parties (mostly related to a discovery of a not-so-new bike trail and some tasty ice cream), but the concert I went to on Friday was fantastic. My friend Dan and I were to-to-totally excited to check out Think About Life, who were performing as part of the Over the Top Festival this weekend. I'm disappointed I missed out on the rest of the shows happening that night, especially the lineup at Sneaky Dee's (Hunter + Ulysses & the Siren, Cool Dad, and The Narrative). I shouldn't have missed Mecca Normal either. It's unfortunate that there was so many events overlapping each other, but kudos to Eric Warner and the other organizers for putting together an amazing line up of acts, thus reestablishing a commitment to indie music and maintaining an eclecticism that totally works.

Certainly, TAF didn't disappoint, logging in lots of sweat-triggering dance pop and playing lots of tracks from their new album Family. They emptied the floor for their encore, which was a good thing. Most of the crowd swarmed the stage, leaving the rest of us staring at a flailing spectacle. It was a great way to cap off the evening. Earlier that night, Edmonton-based opener Bayonets!!! was noteworthy, reminding me of L.A.-based punks The Mae Shi (a little online research reveals that they've played together). Bayonets!!! play with a different level of intensity, but they still rock hard. They played a super-short, tight set of hardcore ditties, each clocking in under the minute mark, but their onstage irreverence was great. Please come back to Toronto! Bookended by these two great performances was the big surprise of the evening: tUnE-YaRdS, aka Merrill Garbus, who commandeered the stage with her hair in a side ponytail. After walking on stage and issuing the order to "get over here", the still sparse crowd at Polish Combatants Hall readily complied. Equipped with a ukelele, a tamtam, a snare, a looping pedal, and perhaps some other equipment assembled at her feet that I couldn't see from my vantage point, she cast a spell on us from her first number. Sure, sure, the solo act with looping pedals and/or found sound recordings has been done before (Final Fantasy, The Blow, Ariel Pink, Mira Calix, etc.), but this phenomenal performer blew the crowd away. Tastemakers/tastebreakers Pitchfork have already reviewed her new album here, so check her out before you hear it at an American Apparel near you.

image from hoovesontheturf.com

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