Mini Show Reviews: November 2016

Danny Elfman’s Music from the films of Tim Burton – October 30

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As you may know, I’m a big Tim Burton fan, and one thing I absolutely adore is his collaborations with Danny Elfman. The day before Halloween, I attended the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s perfomance of select songs from Tim Burton’s movies, including Edward ScissorhandsFrankenweenie, and – the movie everyone was waiting for – The Nightmare Before Christmas. During the songs, they projected scenes from the movies and/or Tim Burton’s original sketches onto a big screen as visual entertainment, but it was really cool to hear some of my favourite film scores live. The ice dance scene from Edward Scissorhands always hits me in the feels, and it was even more emotional watching the orchestra playing it.


LANY – October 30

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I actually won tickets to this concert, which meant I ended up with back-to-back events on the 30th, but I’ve been hearing a lot about LANY, so it was cool to check them out. Opening band Transviolet was interesting – not really my type of music, but cool to see live because they’re really good performers. Their singer looked like a cross between Luna Lovegood, Lorde, and what’s-her-name from The Pretty Reckless (aka Jenny from Gossip Girl), and she was fascinating to watch. Their bass was super heavy, which I usually enjoy, but they probably could have turned it down a notch in such a small space.

LANY has very similar aesthetics (and sounds) to The 1975, so if you’re into Matty Healy and co, you might want to check these guys out. They’re pretty mellow, but some of their songs have a great beat to them – stuff like “Where the Hell are My Friends” and “Like You Lots” (which, to be honest, are the only two songs I remember the names of). They were fun to see live, but I’m not sure if I’d listen to them outside of a club/venue.


The 1975 – November 3

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As you may recall, I saw The 1975 earlier this year, in May. This show was my fifth time seeing them and in the course of three years, they went from playing the Mod Club to playing the ACC – one of the biggest venues in the city. So that’s impressive, but it was also weird to be standing so far away from them…also the fact that the screaming from the fans was about 129790% louder than ever.

The opening act was 070 Shake (I think that’s what she’s called)…she wasn’t really my cup of tea, but she was certainly interesting to watch.

The 1975’s set was as polished and mesmerizing as ever. They played such a great mix of “old” and “new” (I’m OBSESSED with “Loving Someone” now), but they also made the decision to include some of their instrumental tracks, which I thought was an odd choice. On the one hand, it’s nice to hear them live and watch the band jam out to the them, but then, as an audience member, you can’t really do much during those 3-5 minutes. Also the fact that they could have included other older songs (like “The City” or “Settle Down”).

During the encore, Matty asked the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” for his 80 year old grandad so he could film it…and as a “thank you” for indulging him, they played “Robbers“, which they haven’t been playing this tour!! Of course it was magical, and the “now everybody’s dead” line is still spine-tingling. 100% recommend seeing The 1975 live, though now you’ll have to be prepared to pay arena-sized prices.


Crown the Empire – November 18

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I was supposed to see Simple Plan on the 18th, but they postponed until March, and, long story short, I decided to see Crown the Empire that night instead. My sister and I have been listening to them for a few years, but we’ve managed to miss them every time they’re in town. So apart from a short set at Warped this summer, we’ve never seen them live, and we needed to get it out of our system.

We got there mid-way through blessthefall’s set – they were good, not really what I expected (I’ve only heard a handful of their songs), but nothing mind-blowing either. The crowd seemed to love them though.

Crown the Empire came on at 9:40 and I was a little disappointed that they only played an hour. There was a lot of stuff from their latest album, Retrograde, which is super mellow compared to their older albums. The highlight for me was when they played “The Fallout” (the song that first introduced me to CTE) right before the encore. And while I like “Millennia“, I’m not entirely sure why they decided to slow the set down.

Overall, they were good but not great. I’m glad I got a chance to see them live, but I probably won’t run for tickets the next time they’re in town. Also, where the heck is Dave?


Biffy Clyro – November 25

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When I was in Dublin at the end of November, my sister andI saw Biffy Clyro at 3 Arena. First of all, that place is HUGE. Secondly, Biffy always puts on an incredible show – everything from their explosive opening song “Wolves of Winter” to their brilliant (in multiple ways) light show. They played a lot of my faves and my sister lost it when they started “JustBoy”. They’re such polished performers and you’d be lucky to catch them live to see what a real rock show is like.

Meanwhile, Brand New opened for them and, while they were decent, they weren’t great. Their set was designed to appeal to hardcore BN fans and the majority of the audience couldn’t have cared less. I’m a casual BN fan so i was disappointed when they sped through my favourite song “Sic Transit Gloria” but then played a 12 minute outro. As a headliner, they would have been impressive; as an opening band, they seemed to waste their time on being Artists and not actually making an effort to appeal to people who may not have listened to them before.


Phil Coulter – November 26

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Also in Dublin, we went to Dun Laoghaire (sorta of a suburb type place, 20 minutes from the city centre), to see my dad’s favourite musician, Phil Coulter, an Irish legend, perform. It was a two hour long show that included a mini intermission; most of the perfromance was Mr. Coulter sitting at a piano and chatting with the audience before delighting our ears with some of his original compositions (including my favourite, “Coultergeist“) as well as classic Christmas tunes (such as “Silent Night“, with his wife Geraldine singing). Another guest included a former Celtic Thunder member, Paul Byrom, who serenaded us with songs that Phil wrote for him.

We sat in the third row and even got a shout out from Phil himself who had been told that we’d travelled all the way from Canada to see him (he never plays here). It was a mellow evening, but we were all stoked to hear (and later meet!) the man who usually soundtracks our Sunday nights at home.


Hands Like Houses – November 30

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We’ve seen Hands Like Houses twice but both times it was a short set so we were excited to see them headline. Opening band The Color Morale was pretty good; I saw part of their set at Warped a couple of years ago but haven’t really gotten into them. Next was Our Last Night; I’m more familiar with their covers but I recognized quite a few of the songs they played, including “Road to the Throne”, and their cover of “Cold Water”, featuring The Color Morale’s Garrett and Hands Like Houses’ Trenton, was fantastic.

HLH was, of course, amazing. They were energetic and lively and the entire club was sweating like nobody’s business within minutes of them taking the stage. They played a lot of songs from their most recent album, Dissonants, including lead single “I Am” and “Colourblind” (which I love), and older songs like “A Tale of Outer Suburbia“. Basically, the show was 10/10 and I would absolutely see them again (and not just because the lead singer is cute)!

Top 10 (but actually 15) of 2013

For my last Music Monday of 2013, I thought I’d do something different. Lots of music publications have been sharing their “End Of The Year” lists over the past couple of weeks, so I put together my own top 10 albums, limiting myself to albums I actually (physically) own.

Thus, in no particular order, here are my top 10 releases of 2013 (including my favourite song from each – sorry that I’ve used some of these songs in past Music Monday posts):

1) Save Rock & Roll – Fall Out Boy

When FOB announced their return after a 4 year hiatus, my heart (and Twitter feed) exploded with excitement. Save Rock & Roll is a fantastic album that combines classic FOB with their newer, somewhat more mature outlook on life and music in general.

2) Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die – Panic! at the Disco

P!ATD can do no wrong in my book, and their 4th album continues their trend of always surprising their fans by never sticking to one sole genre and experimenting with different musical elements. They’re still as charming as ever, though!

3) Forever Halloween – The Maine

A little more mature, a little more rock & roll than their previous efforts, The Maine never fails to delight me. Plus the amount of time and effort they spend on making new music for their fans is incredible: 2013 also saw the release of their “Imaginary Numbers” EP, approximately 6 months after their full length album dropped.

4) Sempiternal – Bring Me The Horizon

One of the more recent bands for me (I’ve been listening to them for about a year and a half, maybe less), this album allowed singer/screamer Oli Sykes a chance to use clean vocals (whereas before it was all screaming all the time), and it made them more accessible to people who aren’t necessarily metal fans.

5) Battle Scars – Paradise Fears

I love these guys and they consistently put out great songs, whether it’s a cover of a current pop hit, or something as deep and meaningful as this album’s title track, “Battle Scars”.

6) Legendary – The Summer Set

This third album from the Arizona quintet features songs that combine fun danceable jams with slightly more serious undertones – for example, the title track, “Legendary”, which touches on the idea of growing up and also references “How I Met Your Mother”.

7) Burnout – Anarbor

Seeing Anarbor at Warped this past summer made me realize that a) their singer, Slade, got a lot better looking and b) (on a less superficial note) they may have disappeared for a while between albums, but they’re still as fun and refreshing as ever.

8) Old Souls – Deaf Havana

Though it technically won’t be released in North America until mid-January (I picked up a copy in London at the beginning of December), this album continues Deaf Havana’s shift from semi-screamy to alternative-but-still-catchy-as-heck.

9) Genuine & Counterfeit – William Beckett

I love anything WB touches and his first full length solo album is no exception.

10) Wild & Free – A Rocket to the Moon

As sad as it was to see ARTTM split up shortly after the release of their long-awaited sophomore album, they went out with a bang!

HonourROble mentions (aka albums that my sister Ro owns):

1) Opposites – Biffy Clyro

Their SIXTH album helped solidify them as a certifiable rock band and one that everyone needs to see at some point because their live shows are crazy-energetic.

2) Bad Blood – Bastille

So catchy, so fun, so good to see live. These guys are talented and I hope we see more of them in 2014 and beyond.

3) The 1975 – The 1975

Ditto. (though for some reason, these guys get more recognition than Bastille, even though they probably fall into the same genre).

BONUS BESTS OF 2013:

EP: The Pop Underground – Andrew McMahon

Remember when I said I love everything William Beckett touches? The same goes for Andrew McMahon, including his first solo EP. I’m pretty sure I listened to “Synesthesia” on repeat for over an hour when it first came out.

Re-Release: Don’t Panic, It’s Longer Now – All Time Low

Just when I thought 2012’s “Don’t Panic” couldn’t get any better, ATL re-released it and included 4 new songs, as well as 4 acoustic tracks. I had a hard time picking between “A Love Like War” and “Canals” as my favourite new song, but I absolutely adore this video (if I was making a list of favourite videos, this would probably be numero uno).

Plus, I didn’t even consider Mayday Parade’s Monsters in the Closet because I’ve only listened to a handful of songs. And just this past weekend, I bought Pierce the Veil’s Collide With the Sky and The Wonder Years’ The Greatest Generation, but they both need another 2-3 listens before I can pass judgement.

Here’s hoping 2014 brings even more fantastic albums!

You are creating all the bubbles at night

Generally when I’m at a concert, the crowd is mostly female, between the ages of 15 and 25, heights ranging between 5′ and 5’9″. When there are guys, they’re rarely alone – most of them are draped around their girlfriends (don’t even get me started on how much I hate couples at shows…).

Not so with Friday’s Biffy Clyro show. There, the crowd was largely male, mid-twenties and up, and all 7′ tall! Okay, maybe not 7′, but most of them were at least a head taller than me (I’m barely 5’4″).

The problem with being in a crowd of “adults” is the fact that half of them are drunk and the other half are obnoxious. Or worse – they’re drunk AND obnoxious (there was one drunk girl who fell over a railing and it would have been hilarious except she almost knocked me over).

Nonetheless, it was a fantastic show.

The opening band, Morning Parade was British and quite fun although I couldn’t understand half of what they said because of the raucous crowd. But I’ve already added them to my list of music to download.

Biffy Clyro took the stage at 10:15pm.

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Simon, Ben and James (Ben and James are twins). It was very difficult to find a picture of them with clothes on (I don’t think they’ve ever worn shirts on stage).

They’re from Scotland and you can still hear Simon’s accent when he sings, which is actually delightful. And while listening to their albums often induces head-banging (or at the very least, energetic bopping), their live show is something else entirely.

Despite playing a relatively small venue (the Opera House), you can tell they’re destined for arenas. I saw them in April when they opened for Muse, and I think they’re better suited for venues like the ACC where they can just let their talents explode (the lightning was fantastic). Biffy is huge in the UK right now, so they’re probably used to playing massive arenas (I think they’ve played Wembley, or at least the O2), but that made seeing them in an intimate venue even better.

We were standing close to the back and often lost sight of them as they careened around the stage, but their stage presence is massive. They took over the Opera House and didn’t let go until the very end of their last song (19 songs in total!).

There’s a girl, there’s a girl, there’s a girl, there’s a girl, and she’s down by the river.

I have to admit Ro and I may have been a little distracted throughout the first half of the set because SAM MCTRUSTY from Twin Atlantic was in the crowd. We’ve seen Sam tweet about being at shows in Toronto before (he told us it’s because his girlfriend lives here) so we had been joking about it earlier (“Can you imagine if we see McTrusty? I WILL DIE.”). AND THEN HE SHOWED UP and we sort of stared at him in open-mouthed shock until we finally ambushed him at the bar so that we could fangirl over him and his band.

Look at this smile and tell me you wouldn’t squeal when you hear his Scottish accent. LOOK AT HIM.

He was actually really sweet and chatted with us for a bit AND HIGH-FIVED ME BECAUSE WE SHARE AN AWESOME NAME (I’ve never loved my name more than I did that night).

But I digress.

Biffy Clyro was excellent and I will definitely be seeing them again. No, literally – I’m seeing them again at the end of November. And since I highly doubt Sam McTrusty will be at that show too, I’ll probably pay more attention and be able to give a better review.