leahbobet: (bat signal)
Saw, with concertgoing compatriot [livejournal.com profile] ksumnersmith and her guy, the first show of 2011 tonight: four Toronto indie bands that are actually indie enough that 99% of everyone hasn't yet heard of them (and won't for probably a year or two) at the Toronto Underground Cinema.

Yes, I am aware that I just said "I went to see bands you don't even know about." In this case I am not just being a disgusting cooler-than-thou Annex hipster (although if you call me that, I will say "thank you!"); I didn't really know about this show until last week myself and went specifically to see a grand total of one of the four, which I only discovered...well, last week. Hanging out for the other sets was done in a spirit of adventure and discovery. Also, it was an $8 show and really, why the hell not.

The Underground is a weird venue for music. I think this might have been a bit of an experiment for them. I've seen a bunch of movies there (friend [livejournal.com profile] theshaggy is housemates with one of the owners, and we spent a fair bit of time hanging out there this spring/summer) and it's a good theatre with good acoustics, but there's not a stage per se or dance space. They set up a stage on risers of sorts, and while a bunch of people hung out in the seats, some of the more dancingly-inclined sort of crowded by the stage and in the aisles and did their best. I admit I kind of prefer club-style venues for this sort of thing. If I'm going to dance, I want space, and if the music's much good I want to be dancing.

The lobby did actually work out well, though: there was the concessions for food and beer, and the merch tables could be out there, and if someone wasn't interested in this particular set (each band played a 40-minute set or so) they could go hang out in the lobby and not bother other people.

Okay. Actual sets:

The opener was Young Doctors in Love, who I think were added late. This was kind of melodic poppy stuff, two female vocalists, dancy but not hugely remarkable? Bits of their songs kept sounding like other songs. Their drummer kicked a good deal of ass and was awesomely steady. I didn't find this good or bad or awful, it was mostly just there.

Heartbeat Hotel was who I came to see: they had a song on BlogTO's Neighbourhood Mixtape last week (there, I have given you one of my sources for good music) that made me listen to the thing over and over and over, and then stop listening to the five-song mix and just listen to that song, and then go to their Bandcamp site and just buy everything they'd ever made. This has so far proven to be a good decision.

They're less polished live, a bit fuzzy, but still together. I don't know if they have the thing of doing live shoegazer quite together yet, not the way Andrew Bird or Owen Pallett do. They had a good fanbase out too; this is when people started going up front and dancing. They do the wall of sound thing well -- good thumpy through-your-bones drums -- and I like their vocalist live; there's a good rawness to it, versus the "we don't know what we're doing" kind. I didn't quite get my slip-under-the-skin-of-the-music happy place -- and admittedly I spent most of today in a weirdly grim mood, and that probably wasn't helping -- but I got close, and they closed out with two songs I knew and really liked.

(Interestingly, when we were heading out, I took a nose around their merch table and got talking to two of the guys from said band, and asked if they were doing anything else local soon because I found them last week and I like their stuff etc. And they were very nice, and even though I had already bought digital copies of their last EP, they gave me a physical one for free, which was super sweet and unexpected. And if anyone does like the stuff on the Bandcamp site, apparently they're doing a show late next month at Sneaky Dee's, and I will probably go.)

The Ruby Spirit was obviously one of the bigger deals of the night -- fanbase, a better video-montage thingie than Heartbeat Hotel had, costumes, etc. They're a lot more polished than the other two bands, better technical skills on the instruments and just more together in general, and seemed to be doing this sort of big-band pop cabaret Moulin Rouge thingie. They had some dancers up behind them who were obviously their friends in matching white shirts and feathery hair things. I am not being uncharitable when I say that only two of the six were much good at moving one's body in a dancy way. So think We Are Trying For Amanda Palmer or maybe Hannah Fury Fronts a Band With Guitars.

Thing is, they left me weirdly cold (and Karina said the same, actually): maybe it was the singer doing the carnival-barker overenunciating between songs in a very deliberate way, or maybe it was the dancers that were sort of...if you're going to do that, go all-out and have funky costumes or get people who are good dancers. Or maybe it was the weird backhanded "Oh, if you're going to sit in the seats you'll be fined $100" thing the guitarist came out with. Or maybe it was just the very conscious theatricalness of it all: the presentation, the music itself, everything. It was working to be very cabaret, and I have a bit of a reaction to the sensibility of that on a few levels and for a few reasons. I just did not click with this one. Period.

We decided to skip out on The Lovely Killbots; it was close to one in the morning, the potential fourth compatriot wasn't making it from uptown after all, and my blood sugar was doing a couple dubious things. The company decamped up the street for some iffy Chinese and then we went our ways. I walked home through Kensington in the dark and quiet and thick snow, watching the last bits and bobs of the bar crowds empty out, and decided to wipe away the penises and swear words the drunk kids from the Brunny had drawn in the snow piled on parked cars along the side streets. Because y'know, it was a nice night, and even if I can't prevent people from being dicks about things, I don't actually have to walk by and leave their dickery out there.

So in sum: This thing with going to shows of bands that are really young as bands is interesting. It was kind of like watching junior hockey or reading semipro fiction; you see as much of what isn't there yet as what is, and what could be there very soon, what's growing, and there's an interestingness in that. Also, I have to say the price is right. Tonight's outing equalled out to $2 per set.

I am reminded that I like night walking very much, especially when there's a lot of bright white snow on the ground. There is a terrible peacefulness to 2:15 in the morning in the wintertime.

Lastly, it is late and I am tired. Bonne nuit, l'internet.

November 2016

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