Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
5. PUP, The Zolas, and Hollerado @ The Danforth Music Hall,
A Hollerado show truly isn’t a Hollerado show until someone chokes on a piece of confetti launched from a giant gun. However, for their special Friday the 13th show, Hollerado coupled their infamous confetti cannons with white foam that poured out during their set relentlessly. Fans could no longer see the band; the only thing that could be seen was this dense, white cloud. The white bubbles stuck to your hair, your skin, and whenever you breathed in, you would choke on it. Your screams for help would be muffled, so all you could do was fling your arm out and try to touch one of your friends to make sure they were still alive and breathing. Not only this, but the confetti would stick to the foam, which would stick to you, so by the end of the show, everyone was covered in sweat, bubbles, and paper. Sure, we almost suffocated, but it was pretty damn cool.
|(Credit: Tour Photo)|
The near-death experience aside, the concert was excellent, which is why it lands a spot on this list. PUP, a four-piece Canadian punk band that was still trying to make a name for itself at the time (quite literally, as PUP had recently changed their name from Topanga), brought the house down with their loud, angry vocals and screaming-yet-skilled guitar solos.
Following PUP were the much-more-relaxed Zolas, and the pale, lanky, almost-sickly-looking frontman Zach Gray looked as if he was taken straight from a Tim Burton movie. Their calm, sometimes gloomy sound suited Gray’s look and actions perfectly as he walked around the stage with his eyes closed, gripping at the wire of his microphone. Entertaining and chill, The Zolas provided a much-needed breather between PUP and Hollerado.
The quartet from Manotick took to the stage next, providing fans with a show full of sweat, beer, foam, confetti, guitar solos, and crowd surfing. Hollerado never fails to impress me with their energy and musicianship; the band always sounds the exact same live as they do in the studio. Whether it is someone’s first or tenth time seeing Hollerado, chances are they will be back for more the next time they come around (I certainly was).
4. Matt & Kim and Passion Pit @ The Kool Haus, Toronto, 16/02/2013
|(Credit: Album Photo)|(Credit: Tour Photo)
Ever since Tokyo Police Club’s sophomore album, Champ, dropped in 2010, fans had been anxiously waiting to hear new material from the Canadian quartet. However, for many of TPC’s hometown fans, this long hiatus was broken as the band played a variety of awesome tracks off of their upcoming album, Forcefield, which came out in 2014. Tokyo Police Club finally gave fans what they wanted after such a long hibernation: new music that sounded amazing.
(Credit: Album Cover)
Tuesday, 28 April 2015
However, Kids in Love wouldn’t be a Mowgli’s album if it didn’t promote the message of love, world peace, optimism, and kindness; the mantra of the band is essentially “be kind to everyone!” The band’s sophomore effort delivers on this message, smothering listeners in optimism; the Mowgli’s are absolutely relentless with their positivity, and they are determined to kill everyone with their kindness, one listener at a time.
Though this message is certainly met with more than a few cynical, annoyed eye rolls, The Mowgli’s deliver this idealistic ideology in a way that is goddamn catchy. Kids in Love expands on what The Mowgli’s know best: love.
Kids in Love is a more polished version of their major record label debut, Waiting for the Dawn; in their most recent LP, the band relies less on the harmonies that were so overpowering and frequently used on their first album. In Kids in Love, individual members are allowed to standout more as they do not have four or five other voices clambering on top of theirs. However, The Mowgli’s didn’t lose their signature singalong choruses in their new, more mature album.
"You’re Not Alone” flows right into the album’s biggest single so far, “I’m Good”. The tune has a more relaxed feel with its light melodic phrases and instrumentation. Complete with a simple, memorable, singalong chorus, The Mowgli’s reassure listeners that if they are living life the way they want to, then they are doing well for themselves.
Closing Kids in Love is the calmer-yet-gloomy “Sunlight”, which brings the album to a jarring halt. With its misty guitar riffs and dreary vocals, the summery spell that the album casts is abruptly broken with a spout of rain. Though “Sunlight” sounds the exact opposite of what its title suggests, there is no better way to end the album than with one of its most interesting tracks.
Monday, 20 April 2015
Their optimistic, catchy tracks had everyone dancing, whetting the crowd’s appetite for Walk the Moon. The Griswolds’ sound complimented the headliner’s sound perfectly, so the Australian-natives did a fantastic job as an opening band.
As The Griswolds left the stage, the crowd packed tightly together: the lack of a barricade between the fans and the stage caused people to lose their minds. Everyone began to push closer to the stage for a chance to touch the pure sunshine that is Walk the Moon. The anticipation continued to build, and fans began to get restless, constantly checking their phones for the time. All of a sudden, “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King erupted from the speakers. Many fans felt as if they were being reborn as Walk the Moon sauntered onto the stage, met with the lion-like roaring of the crowd.
Next up was “Down in the Dumps”, a track off of their sophomore effort Talking is Hard, followed by “Spend Your $$$”, which had everyone dancing, including the band. Walk the Moon obviously loves what they do, and their happiness spread to every single member of the crowd like some kind of blissful, lively plague.
Opting to play a fan-favourite off of their debut, the suggestive “Shiver Shiver” came up next, causing all the ladies to sing the sexy lyrics while pointing at the band (mainly at the bassist, Kevin Ray). Following “Shiver Shiver” was a spectacular performance of Talking is Hard’s “Avalanche”.
“UP 2 U” was next on the band’s handwritten paper plate setlists, and every fan anticipated the upcoming beat drop. When it came, everyone lost their minds and pushed forward, trying to touch the golden ray of sunshine that is the bassist Kevin Ray.
“Work This Body”, another fan-favourite off of Talking is Hard, had the crowd spastically dancing, whether they knew the lyrics or not. Walk the Moon was basking in the energy of their audience, smiles spreading from ear to ear, mirroring the ecstatic grins of every fan.
Next was the highly-anticipated “Portugal” from the band’s most recent sophomore album, which was a surreal moment for many fans. The majority of the crowd knew every word, and people were singing back every lyric with as much passion as Petricca himself. Once again feeding off of the ecstasy of the crowd, Petricca launched himself into the sea of bodies, having a few intimate moments with some of the fans. The sea of people surged forward like an ocean tide, pushing themselves up against the stage as if it were the coastline, but never receding.
Even when Walk the Moon slowed it down with the perfect 80s-prom tune “Aquaman”, the crowd remained standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a unified mass, trying to get as close as they could to the stage. The band picked up the tempo again with “Lisa Baby”, a track off of their debut, which satisfied a lot of their older fans.
“Lisa Baby” flowed into “Jenny”, a fan-favourite off of their first album. Kevin Ray, with his blinding smile, starting swaying his hips in time to the track, which was met by a deafening chorus of screaming. However, Ray, with his eyes shut, seemed oblivious to the noise, immersed in the sound of his own music.
After “Jenny”, Petricca got the crowd to be quiet for the first moment of the night, and it was then that fans knew he was going to make his infamous speech. His mischievous eyes flicked around the venue, his gaze resting on a couple of faces, and he flashed a brilliant smile. Petricca said that he recognized some people in the audience, but he saw a lot of new faces, too. “Those of you who haven’t been to our show before, this is your initiation into the family”, he said with a sly, mysterious look in his eyes. Bringing his hands to the centre of his chest, he clutched his t-shirt, urging the crowd to do the same. Enticing the crowd, he began to instruct everyone to take “all that shit” and sadness that each audience member might be feeling about their lives in that moment, “gather it all up in your body, and push it out of you”. He raised his arms above his head, and the crowd mimicked his movements, everyone holding their own ball of anger and stress. Petricca continued, saying that he wanted the crowd to push “all that shit” above their heads, as if it were a car, and to let it go. The band then launched into “I Can Lift a Car”, the final song on their debut album, instructing the crowd to lift their worries above their heads during the chorus. There were no strangers in the venue anymore: every member of the audience was now a part of the same family in this magnificent moment, without a single worry or care in the world.
Following “I Can Lift a Car” was Walk the Moon’s most recent single, “Shut up and Dance”. “This is our last moment together”, Petricca said, teasing the audience, saying that they had to make it count. Immediately, Petricca felt the crowd’s excitement, so he began to shake his ass, much to the delight of fans. Once again, the crowd surged forward, trying to catch the last few glimpses of sunlight before they would be thrown back onto the wet streets of Toronto. After “Shut up and Dance”, the quartet exited while waving at their protesting fans.
It wasn’t long until Walk the Moon were called back onto the stage for the encore, beckoned by loud chants of “W-T-M!” As they made their re-entrance, the restless crowd began to scream, “Anna Sun! Anna Sun,” begging for Walk the Moon to play their biggest single. “Sorry guys,” Petricca teased, flashing his sly smile, “but not yet.” The band launched into a magnificent cover of The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done” instead, much to the surprise and delight of the crowd.
The foursome wrapped up their set by reminding everyone that they are “Walk the Moon from Ohio” and by waiting for the last possible second to give fans what they wanted: “Anna Sun”. Every audience member sang each lyric back to the band as one being, and the spell of unity was broken as soon as Walk the Moon exited the stage, immersing the city of Toronto back into darkness.
Playing the perfect combination of both oldies and new tracks, Walk the Moon is a fantastic act to witness live; they sound exactly the same both within the studio and outside of it. Also, their infectious dance-y style and positive energy are a lot more powerful when in an intimate concert setting, providing a different, deeper connection to the band that one cannot experience when just listening to a recording.
The audience may have entered and left the concert as strangers, but in that moment with Walk the Moon, everyone was family.
Personal Highlight: Nick Petricca’s motivational speech before playing “I Can Lift a Car”, but Petricca shaking his ass to “Shut Up and Dance” is a close second.
10. The Black Keys – Turn Blue (2014)
Must-Listen: “Turn Blue”
The first album on this list is The Black Keys’ Turn Blue. The Black Keys are no strangers to the music scene; Turn Blue is the duo’s eighth studio album, giving them an experienced edge. One of the more intriguing aspects of The Black Keys’ music is their skilled guitar riffs, and the album is full of them. Though their newest LP maintains the band’s signature, slightly bluesy vibe, Turn Blue has a slower, psychedelic, almost groovy feel to it that is relatively unexpected. Their most recent LP shows that the twosome will never stop surprising their fans, no matter how many albums they release.
Must-Listen: “Brooklyn Baby”
Must-Listen: “Guilt Trip"
“PUNK’S NOT DEAD!” some dude yells as he discovers this band for the first time, and he is absolutely correct; the existence of Canadian punk band PUP proves that the beloved scene is still alive and kicking. Their self-titled debut is angry, with screaming guitar riffs and barking vocals. Full of head banging and sweat, PUP is everything that a punk album should be, and then some.
7. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (2013)
Winning a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, the New York foursome’s impressive third LP is an outstanding one at that. The members of Vampire Weekend are known for their quirky style and even quirkier lyrics, which have only become more polished in Modern Vampires of the City. Eccentric and unexpected, the fact that the album won a Grammy truly says it all.
4. Passion Pit – Gossamer (2012)
Must-Listen: “Constant Conversations"
Taking third place is Haim’s badass debut album. Very few things are better than a band made up of three kick-ass, musically-inclined sisters. Haim, with their long hair and high-waisted shorts, brought the world a fantastic debut that turned more than just a few heads: Days are Gone is full of gorgeous harmonies and lyrics that young adults will have painted on their walls or tattooed on their wrists. Haim’s debut is the perfect summer album (not to mention the perfect breakup album), alternating between sugary, sweet tracks and complete badass stomp-alongs. The band brings the California sunshine with them on this debut, and a sophomore effort is highly anticipated; Haim is one of the greatest musical discoveries of the decade.
The runner-up is the Los Angeles natives’ stunning debut album. Even though Torches is packed full of poppy synthesizer melodies and ridiculously catchy beats, it is the singer Mark Foster’s impressive falsetto that is the album’s main strength (or at least it’s the aspect of Foster the People’s music that gathers the most amount of attention). Foster stretches his vocal chops all throughout the album, and his voice combined with the band’s inventive lyricism makes Torches a great standalone effort of 2011.
Topping the list is Tokyo Police Club’s impressive sophomore album, released in 2010. Dripping with a child-like nostalgia, this album truly feels like home, whether it’s someone’s second listen or one hundredth listen. Champ really is the best of Tokyo Police Club: with excellent lyrics and quirky guitar solos, TPC stuck to what they know best with Champ, but made it more polished. Champ shows off a growth within the Canadian skinny-jean clad quartet, displaying a maturity within their musicianship that had never been seen by fans before. Champ is a truly astounding LP that puts an end to the notion that Canadian music sucks.
Not quite making it onto the top ten list, these two albums are still worth a listen.
Must-Listen: “Strange Girl”
Alt-J: An Awesome Wave (2012)
Friday, 12 September 2014
A whole lot of energy had to be stuffed into the “world’s largest Pepsi bottle” on Thursday night rather than a bottle and had a maximum capacity of 120 sweaty people. Despite its small size, the odd venue held its own when it came to containing all of the energy brought forth by two Ontario-born bands. My only complaint? I was very disappointed when I found out that there was no AC to cool fans down on this horribly hot day. A member of the Born Ruffians certainly felt the heat, asking the crowd in the middle of their set, “It’s fuckin hot in here, isn’t it?”. Instead of an AC, free Pepsi was provided (I would have preferred Coca-Cola to be honest).
Me: Yep. How many times on a daily basis?
Dean: No sometimes I insist that I am Nicholas Cage.
Friday, 4 July 2014
Analysing the growth in popularity of the Monkeys in North America within the past two years is astounding. Back in 2012, the boys were playing this same venue, but they were only the opening band for The Black Keys. Last September, the band played the Kool Haus in Toronto to promote their latest album, which was a much smaller, more intimate venue. But this time around, the Monkeys had their own headlining show at a massive venue. Not only this, but the band managed to hypothetically blow the roof off of the place with what was the most spectacular live show I have ever witnessed. To top it all off, there was even a guy dressed up as the AM front man Alex Turner, rocking his iconic boots, dark jeans complete with a chain, silk button up shirt, leather jacket, and Turner's signature quiff. If this sky-rocketing growth that results in people dressing up as you does not indicate true success, I do not know what does.
After about a half hour of painful waiting, it was time for the Arctic Monkeys to arrive. It seemed as if the sun set as soon as the rock stars stepped onto the stage, really adding to their epic entrance. They strutted on stage in darkness, shrouded by fog and smoke, using the album art for AM as a backdrop for their performance. Wordlessly, the band launched into the intro of "Do I Wanna Know?", the sexy lead single from AM. As soon as the "step-clap" rhythm of the song began, it was greeted by a chorus of cheers and screams as people began to move in time to the track. Opening their set with "Do I Wanna Know?" was undeniably a great decision, seeing that it satisfied both long-term Arctic Monkeys fans, along with newcomers.
Following "Do I Wanna Know?" was "Snap Out of It", another hit off of AM that the band recently released a video for. The Arctic Monkeys continued their AM-streak by opting to play crowd favourite "Arabella" next, in which Alex Turner broke out all of his slightly embarrassing, magnificent dance moves. Just before the guitar solo of the sexy track hit, Turner scrambled to retrieve his guitar, leading to a bad ass Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" instrumental interlude in the meantime. But, as soon as Turner had his guitar in hand, it was back to ripping Arctic Monkeys material as he absolutely nailed the solo.
It was around this time that, in true Alex Turner fashion, the Sheffield singer took the time to look at the audience before sauntering up to the microphone and asking "did you miss me?" in a smug, smooth tone. This question received a very clear answer, as every member in the crowd began screaming as loud as they possibly could. Throughout the night, Turner also elected to call all of us in the crowd 'Ontarionians' in his Sheffield accent, and whoever told him that this was a proper term deserves a high five.
Breaking the string of AM tracks, the Monkeys went back in time a couple years and played "Brianstorm", the brilliant opening track on the band's second album. This song got an excellent response from the crowd, probably due to the fact that the guitar riffs in this song are absolutely amazing, sounding even better live than on the album. "Brianstorm" flowed effortlessly into the Monkeys' next song of the night, which was head-banger "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair" off of Suck it and See. During this track, Alex Turner dropped an F-bomb, singing with his smooth, black velvet voice "don't sit down 'cause I've moved your f*cking chair", thus pleasing everyone in the crowd.
Next up was "Dancing Shoes", an old time favourite off of the band's debut album. This jam got everyone dancing and singing back every word. Following such a nostalgic treasure was "Library Pictures", another song off of Suck it and See, which pleased the die-hard Monkeys fans in the crowd.
According to the Arctic Monkeys, it was time to slow the show down for three tracks. The slowdown started with AM's passionate tune, titled "Fireside", which gave a lot of fans a little bit of time to breathe and relax. Next came "No. 1 Party Anthem", a tearjerker off of AM, so this is the moment where people broke out their phones and their lighters, swaying in time as Turner, now playing an acoustic guitar, crooned the beautiful tune in front of us. This moment was truly stunning as thousands of little white lights appeared from all sides of the venue, mimicking the stars in the sky that many crowd members could not see because of the huge roof of the Amphitheatre.
To end the show, the Monkeys played two popular tracks off of their second album, starting with the cheeky "Fluorescent Adolescent", largely pleasing the crowd. They ended with the much slower "505", which only made the crowd crave more. When the foursome exited the stage, they already knew that they would be called back for the encore within a manner of seconds. They made the crowd wait for a couple of minutes though, just to drive everyone slightly crazier.