Indie Week Report Card: The Franklin Electric @ The Hideout 88%

thefranklinelectric

By: Andrea Holz October 23, 2013

thefranklinelectric

Sound 5 /5

Folky and delicious. A beautiful musical treat. The band kind of sounds like the lead singer of Coldplay joined Mumford and Sons. Satisfying ambient. Very pleasing. I found them to be very easy to listen to.

Performance 4/5

Lead singer Jon Matte doubles as the trumpet player making for an intimate and enjoyable show. He begins one of the songs with a lovely Latin riff on the trumpet. Their performance is inviting, making you want to get closer and the feel was mutual amongst the audience. It was wonderfully crowded.  

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Indie Week Report Card: Satellite Hearts @ the Hideout 52%

Satellite Hearts

By: Josh Parsons October 23, 2013

Satellite Hearts

(photo by: Myles Herod)

Sound 3/5

In true Rock ‘n’ Roll fashion, Satellite Hearts cranked their amps all the way to 11. They whipped through and array of songs that covered various territory within the gigantic rock umbrella with unrelenting fury. This, however, was at the expense of dynamics. It seems like Satellite Hearts have a single setting, loud and hard, and if you’re not into that it might be hard to relate. 

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Indie Week Report Card: Overhate @ The Cage 84%

overhate

By: Tiffy Thompson October 21, 2013

overhate

Sound 4/5

Venezuelan thrash metal with intricate guitar work that oscillates between chainsaw-ripping bridges and expertly honed harmonic scales. Music to burn things down to. Joseph Ortiz shines with menacing, full-throttle drum rolls. Backing vocals didn’t mesh so well at times but I think that was the fault of the sound-system.

Performance 4/5

Performance was tight, polished and held fervour despite sparse crowd. With lyrics like In this disgusting planet, I’m natural selection, the food chain, the leveler, the fall! what’s not to love?

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Indie Week Report Card: Indicator Indicator @ The Hideout 84%

indicator indicator

By: Andrea Holz October 21, 2013

indicator indicator

Sound 4/5

The music kind of muffles the lyrics. The first song seemed a little big for the lyrics. Softening the drums might have given the lead singer the chance to show more passion in his voice.

Performance 4/5

Loved their song “Back Into A Fire.” I think that the lead singer looked a bit over practiced. I want to see more emotion in a song like that. Though he’s singing the words, it felt like he was detached. However, the drummer seemed veryy passionate.

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Japan’s Guitar Wolf Take No Prisoners With Torontonians

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Josh Parsons Ocotober 4, 2013

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In recent years, Japan’s colossal rock ‘n’ roll ambassadors Guitar Wolf have toned down their nearly endless world tour. Now 26 years after its formation, they have returned to Toronto for an intimate night of painfully loud music and bizarre stage antics. 
 
This time around, the trio were booked at the Hard Luck Bar on Tuesday (October 1st); a cozy second floor conference-room-turned-guerilla-bar that was hardly a third of the size of the venues they typically inhabit. I’m not going to lie – I wore earplugs. It’s tough to admit, but to say that the show was going to be loud was an understatement. The trio are famous for their blow-out sound, and the screeching feedback is enough to make the bravest eardrum shudder.   
 
The Tuesday night set began with a bumbling roadie hastily assembling a projector screen at the very front of the stage.  He then proceeded to project a stream of Guitar Wolf’s wildly hilarious music videos, showcasing a love of North America B-movies, zombie flicks, Kung Fu and, of course, blistering rock ‘n’ roll. Our palates had been wetted, and the tension in the crowd reeked of leather and anticipation.
 
The trio finally walked on to the tiny stage and, after yelling a couple incoherent slogans, launched into a thundering, monolithic version of its latest single “Beast Vibrator,” from the album of the same name. It was full-fledged sonic warfare and the airwaves crumpled under the deafening distortion. In no other way can one be so literally moved by music, albeit in the most brutal and visceral way.
 
Within seconds, frontman and guitarist Seiji was sweating more profusely than the drip of a Brita filter while the bassist, U.G. “Bass Wolf,” was literally kicking the crowd back.  In fact, they hardly stopped playing for more than a few seconds during the entirety of the set, tearing through such classics as “Jet Generation” and “Teenge U.F.O.” without flinching.  
 
The band returned for a whopping three encores, the first of which culminated in a frantic performance of “Fujiyama Attack” and provoked the audience to chant along and thrash about. The final encore featured the infamous on-stage human pyramid routine, using the audience as the base. Seiji surmounted the bodies with mic in hand, having just enough time to belt a few lines before his shoddy engineering project crumbled beneath his rock ‘n’ roll immensity.  
 
It was a gloriously absurd ending to a ridiculously deafening concert, with the trio quickly scurring in to a changing room, as if in fear of the energy they had just unleashed. They should be proud knowing that the imprint of fearless rock ‘n’ roll has been burnt into the minds (and eardrums) of a fresh batch of eager Torontonians.
 
                                                                                                                                                        (U.G. “Bass Wolf”) 
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(Photos courtesy of Aaron Joo)
 
 
Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Josh Parsons @ParsonsAles

Polaris Music Prize Gala 2013: Allelujah! Ascend! Offend! Bitter End?

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By: Hilary Johnston September 26th, 2013

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After several months of anticipatory music listening, the Polaris Prize winner was announced on Monday night – an evening, hosted by Canadian musicians Kathleen Edwards and Shad, that uniquely saw focus shift toward performances, rather than novelty or gimmicks. 
 
Purity Ring kicked things off, followed by Zaki Ibrahim– both endowed with style and strength, yet merely opening acts for what was to come. A grand piano entered next, wheeled forth for Emily Haines, whose acoustic duet with Jimmy Shaw hit me like lightning, illuminating a glimpse of the Metric fandom that I, admittedly, had lost sight of. 
 
Having caught my breath, I knew something potent laid ahead when presenter Martin Gero  appeared, describing the next nominee as nothing less than a  “religious experience”. Standing modestly mid-stage and letting his saxophone speak its distinct language, Colin Steston kept it simple, and remarkable. His music both screamed in the face and whispered in the ear of each visibly astonished guest. So much so, that successors, Choir! Choir Choir! and George Strombolopolous – equipped with made-for-tv cheese – barley registered amidst the shadow of Stetson’s alchemy.   
 
By the time Young Galaxy’s turn came around, even their brand of art pop couldn’t gather the attention of a soused crowd that had been drinking away the onerous between-act breaks. Truthfully, their performance was blown away, along with most other memories, by METZ’s gloriously abrasive noise-rock clamour. Splashing in the puddles of their energy left behind, A Tribe Called Red finished the bill with their innovative blend of beats and tradition.
 
Interestingly enough, the nights most awkward, and ultimately controversial, moment transpired when the Polaris was handed out to Godspeed You! Black Emperor; their absence suddenly apparent when Leslie Feist named them victorious and no one from the Montreal post-rock troupe was there to accept. Instead, standing in was Constellation Records’ Ian Ilavsky, who improvised a polite “thank-you” before the show wrapped. 
 
The plot thickened Tuesday morning when Godspeed You! released a statement via Constellation, calling Polaris out on being an unnecessary expression of lazy money in times of social distress. “This scene is petty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds” – and with that, Godspeed You! Black Emperor history-booked themselves. The fact that they released such a statement revealed that the jury selected the right band for the award. The bands’ rejection of the gala gives their record (Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!) that much more weight and reminds us that we not only need to listen to their music, but perhaps also question Polaris and their oversized novelty checks. Then again, it is a celebration of Canadian artistry. We shouldn’t lose sight of that. 
 
 
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(Photos courtesy of Polaris Music)
 
 
Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston

Deerhunter: Casting A Spell Of Dark Magic At The Phoenix

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By: Hilary Johnston September 16th, 2013

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I arrived early to the sold out Deerhunter show accurately expecting a long lineup of diehards. Before positioning myself close to the stage, I was met by a hoard of beaming, wide-eyed high schoolers, our age gap made painfully apparent by my insisting “You really should have brought earplugs.” 

A hypnotic cloud darkened the Phoenix when frontman Bradford Cox took the stage, opening with “Earthquake” from Halcyon Digest. Cox’s style is intensely enigmatic, yet fashionable and charming; his deranged scarecrow demeanor visually complimenting the bizarre auditory spectacle he and his bandmates create. His eccentric genius anchors the rest of the members, whose stage manners are more understated, letting the music (and Cox) remain front and centre. Opener Marnie Stern brought an Almost Famous vibe to the show, bursting back on stage during Cryptograms’ “Hazel St” to whirl around uncontrollably. Although I found her opening act to be, well, lacking, I have to question my own opinion given Cox’s overt affection for her. In the best way possible, the performance turned Deerhunter’s songs’ most subtle layers into blaring sirens.

 

The sound was thick and ambient with a strong beat and a rock and roll edge that you can feel buzzing in the back of your throat. Only occasionally did they allow for a moment of repose in the vehemently slow, loud build-up that reached its climax at “Nothing Ever Happened”. The set ended with a version of “Monomania” that blasted a gust of punk wind at the crowd before returning for an encore of a jammed-out rendition of Fluorescent Grey. I left, feet numb and brain scrambled, wondering how long it will take the youngsters ears to stop ringing. 

 

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Photos by @MylesHerod

 

 

Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston

Riot Fest Day 2 Recap: Iggy + The Replacements Prove This Is No Kids Game

By: Shelby Monita August 28, 2013
 
 
Day two of Riot Fest was a welcome change from what was endured during day one. With a stellar line up of punk rock icons, it would be nearly impossible to disappoint. That is, as soon as Best Coast left the stage. Lead by Bethany Cosentino, California natives Best Coast take the laid back lifestyle a few steps too far. It’s hard to tell if Cosentino is playing the part of bored or just really hates what she does for a living. While on stage, it seems like achieving something most bands could ever dream of is the worst thing that has ever happened to her. There is also the fact that almost all her songs have the same whiney tone to them, in the end just sounds like one long, drawn out temper tantrum. Best Coast is not punk rock, and it would have been nice if she did the audience and herself a favour and just sat this show out. 
 
Thankfully Dinosaur Jr. was on directly after to restore our faith in music and in punk rock festivals. Though still paying homage to the first day of Riot Fest, the band lead by J Mascis and Lou Barlow played a song from their first band together, which coincidentally was a hardcore punk band by the name of Deep Wounds. The guys were as polite as the crowd, noting that the mosh pit was kind and friendly–a very Toronto mosh pit–and showing gratitude to be playing on the same bill as Iggy and The Stooges and Replacements, two bands that were a huge influence on them. Playing a selection of songs from their massive catalogue, these boys did not let us down and had everyone moving when they busted out their stellar single, “Freak Scene.”
 
 
The Weakerthans were a strange choice to be a part of this punk rock line up. A polite folk rock band from Winnipeg, seems like they were only on stage to fill the Canadian band quota, like Fucked Up did last year. Despite the odd placement, they put on an entertaining show. Singing songs about their justified hatred for Winnipeg, making curling references and saying “thank you” a disgusting amount of times, they did bring everyone back to their polite, northern roots. 
 
 
Finally, the time came for the living hurricane to come and sweep us away. Iggy and The Stooges came out full throttle and busting right into “Raw Power,” the perfect upper the audience needed to come alive. Iggy Pop is just as wild as ever, jumping around stage, singing beautifully, smiling at the crowd and cracking jokes, everyone was a bit changed after this performance. With a selection of songs from the past as well as a select few from latest album, Ready to Die, the arrangement kept the hour-long set fresh. Not to mention, despite doctors orders for Iggy to stop stage diving, that did not keep him from taking a massive leap with a running start, over the huge security gap and into the audience. A trick only a seasoned pro can pull off. 
 
The crowd came together when Iggy had everyone singing, “I Want to Be Your Dog” and moshing their hardest during “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell.” Few acts can make a polite Canadian crowd turn into crazed animals, completely letting loose. The set ended with “Sex with Money,” leaving the crowd in awe and most likely horny. 
 
 
Riot Fest came to a beautiful and perfect end when The Replacements, after breaking up 22 years ago on stage reunited for the first time. 
 
Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson walked out, like it was no big deal, like thousands of fans haven’t been waiting for this moment an entire lifetime. Westerberg made a joke, apologizing for taking so long–they had an unresolved 25-year-old dispute–then they jumped right into “Takin’ a Ride.” Everything was perfect, especially the imperfect parts. For example, when Westerberg forgot the words during “I Will Dare.” 
 
The set list spanned their entire career, included b-sides, and even had a Chuck Berry cover. The band was happy, was comfortable on stage and couldn’t stop smiling at each other. In total they played an 80-minute set, far too short for making us wait so long, but just enough to leave us wanting more. After seeing so much joy and love on stage it would be hard to say that this is it for The Replacements reunion. They still have another two Riot Fest dates to fill, though no one would be shocked if they came back for more. 
 
At the end of a strange weekend, Riot Fest came through. It was one hell of a festival.
 
 
Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site casamonita.com.  
 
Photography by Paddy Jane.
 

Riot Fest Day 1 Recap: Thank God For Grade

By: Shelby Monita August 27, 2013
 
 
This past weekend, Toronto’s favourite historical site turned festival grounds, Fort York, played host to Chicago based punk rock carnival, Riot Fest. The weekend started out hot, heavy and loud, as Saturday’s line up was a stacked bill of only hardcore and emo pop rock bands. Swarms of self-conscious teenagers and their misunderstood angst had half the capacity of the land filled as bands screamed their way into fans hearts. 
 
Structures, the second act of the day came on stage, shocking the crowd with their individual version of hardcore. With the lead singer barking into the microphone, it was hard to tell when one song ended and the next began, just one long incoherent mess. Though I must admit they were very conscientious, promoting how important hydration is during a festival to the young crowd. The singer even gave us a touching story of a time he was at a festival, didn’t think much about drinking water and fainted. The metal-inspired band entertained us with the very young guitarist swinging his guitar around his neck and the bass player head banging with great enthusiasm. In ten years these guys will make a great Pantera cover band. 
 
Later in the day, some local flavour from Toronto-area’s Grade provided us with the first melody of the day. In true punk rock fashion they made note that the price of their merchandise wasn’t their prices and wasn’t punk rock. Much more professional and put together than the other acts, it was obvious that they were the older guys who the younger bands could look up to. 
 
It was difficult to tell Mayday Parade apart from Pierce the Veil. Both were young, both were pretty, both had shallow emo lyrics that the naïve minds of the stacks of teenagers in the audience understood to be “deep.” Mayday Parade put on a better show with less stage antics and more talent. Where as Pierce the Veil seemed to take notes from watching YouTube videos of Def Leppard, they were more focused on making sure they kept the attention of the MTV crowd with high jumps and throwing their guitars across the stage, while keeping huge exaggerated smiles on their faces. A bit too polished for a supposed-to-be punk rock fest. Though kudos to them for the broken home artwork they used as their backdrop on stage. Strong message there. 
 
The night ended with A Day to Remember, a hardcore band from Florida. Their performance can be summed up in the line they used when they first walked on stage: “Toronto, lets have a good time! This one is called ‘Violence.’” 
 
Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site casamonita.com.