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)!

It’s not a break-up, it’s a hiatus

Hello readers of this blog!

Just wanted to update: starting today (June 1st), I won’t be posting as much here, except for the occasional concert or ARC review. I’m dedicating more time to my baby (aka Mind the Gap), so you can find me there pretty much all the time. It’s chock-full of pop culture so if you’ve liked anything I’ve written here, I’m sure you can find something interesting there – including today’s post which is, of course, about The 1975 :)

Thanks for reading!

season two

Mini Show Reviews: May 2016

Since I’ve been to a couple (well, three) shows in the past week-and-a-half, I decided to write mini reviews rather than dedicate a full post to each one.

Pearl Jam – May 12

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My sister and I bought these tickets for our dad (who really only goes to shows if one/both of us is with him) since he’s been listening to Pearl Jam for years. I have to admit that I only knew a handful of songs on the setlist, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time – you gotta love some nineties grunge/alternative. A personal highlight for me was “Daughter“, which I like warbling at my dad, and when they surprisingly played “Last Kiss” (if you ever want to feel sad, listen to that song). For a bunch of “old” dudes (the band has been around literally as long as I’ve been alive), they had a lot of energy and played for over two hours straight with maybe a five minute break before the encore. My dad also loves that Eddie Vedder swigs from a bottle of wine while on stage, but miraculously is still coherent (well, mostly – we had a hard time understanding him, but it could have been our nosebleed seats). They’re also some pretty stand-up guys: they mentioned a couple of benefits they’re working with, not to mention the fact that some of the proceeds from their show were going to Alberta to help for the Fort McMurray fires.


Enter Shikari – May 19

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Admittedly, one of the reasons I was stoked for this show was the opening band – those wonderful Australian chaps, Hands Like Houses – but Enter Shikari were brilliant as well.

HLH’s set was short but tight, and I can only imagine how insane their headlining shows are. They’re so full of energy and the setlist – mostly tracks from their recent album, Dissonants, including the epic “I Am” – flows together really well.

I also found myself really getting into ES this time around. One thing I like about them is the combination of some of my favourite musical elements: a sick beat and some unclean vocals. They didn’t stop to chat too much (though there was one hilarious moment involving a crowd-surfer who lost his shoe), but powered their way through their set, playing some tracks off of The Mindsweep such as “Anaesthetist” and older tunes including “Solidarity“, plus their new single, “Redshift“. The crowds are always so wild during an ES show, so I tend to sit on the balcony if I can manage it, but I do think it’s about time for them to be ungraded to a bigger venue (it was hot as balls in the club because of all the people).

P.S. You can read my interview with front-man Rou Reynolds for idobi radio here!


The 1975 – May 201975This was our fourth time seeing these English gents, first time since they released their second album, and the show was, of course, amazing. Matty’s gotten a bit chattier since that first time they played in Canada, but they genuinely seemed to be having fun. Their drummer had been injured about a week or so ago, so they had a replacement – but you could barely tell he wasn’t an original member because they sounded so put-together. It’s also wonderful to see the way they’ve grown as a band, both in terms of their sound and the tightness of their set, but also their popularity: they went from playing to 600 people in 2013 to 5000 people in 2016, which is pretty impressive. Of course I loved the older songs – “Chocolate”, “Robbers”, and “Sex”, in particular – but the new songs were also beautiful – especially my faves off the album, “A Change of Heart“, and “UGH!“. They also paid a mini tribute to their original fans with “Fallingforyou“, a song off of one of their first EPs.

If you get a chance to see The 1975 live, do it! They’re completely worth the money (and the hype)!

(Un)Covered Round-Up: March-May 2016

I may have mentioned that I write a column for idobi about song covers. Here are the ones that have been posted since March!

AND, even though I wrote a review of V.E. Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows here, I also wrote a review for idobi, which you can check out here!

 

Best concerts of 2014

This year, Ro and I hit 30 concerts. 30!!!! This was a personal best for us, and it was our goal for 2014 (we were unbelievably excited when we bought tickets for that last show). There were a couple of duplicates – some favourite bands that came to town on more than one tour – but we also saw a few bands we’ve never seen live before.

This list is pretty much in order, but the lines sort of blur once you get past the top ten. Yay live music!

1) Bring Me the Horizon – December 5 (Wembley Arena)

2) Panic! at the Disco – February 1 (Sound Academy)

3) You Me At Six – October 13 (Phoenix)

4) Fall Out Boy – June 25 (Molson Amphitheatre)

5) The Maine – March 1 (Hard Luck Bar)

6) Paradise Fears – August 12 (Mod Club)

7) Twin Atlantic – December 10 (Rivoli)

8) Taking Back Sunday – April 8 (Kool Haus)

9) Andrew McMahon – November 5 (Opera House)

10) The Ready Set – October 30 (El Mocambo)

11) The 1975 – May 6 (Kool Haus)

12) Nick Santino – November 10 (Hard Luck Bar)

13) Bastille – October 15 (ACC)

14) Deaf Havana – February 15 (Rivoli)

BONUS:

Riot Fest – September 6-7 (Downsview Park)

I’m so ready for the 2015 concert season. I can’t wait to see what our total will be this year!

And this is how it starts…

We’ve seen The 1975 before: the first time they ever played Toronto, and then again earlier this year (May, to be exact). And now we can saw we saw them play for a third time, for arguably their biggest crowd (it sold out so fast, they added a second (also sold out) show for tonight…no, I sadly won’t be going).

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The first opening band, Young Rising Sons, was a lot of fun. I actually knew one of their songs, and I’ve been trying to figure out where I heard it. I’ll definitely look them up though, I really enjoyed what I heard.

The next band, Cruisr, had a Two Door Cinema Club sort of vibe (I feel like I make this comparison a lot, but I don’t know how else to describe this particular type of music).

One thing I’ll say about this show was that the crowd was insane – and not in a good “look how excited they are for the band” way. More in a “why are they screaming so loud, they realize The 1975 hasn’t come out yet, right?” way. Or a “is mom-jeans a thing and if so why is it a thing?” way. Or maybe even a “if there’s 10 feet of space in front of you, I really don’t see why you have to whip your hair back and forth an inch in front of my face” way. Definitely not the best crowd I’ve been in.

But, obnoxious people aside, The 1975 always puts on a good show. Despite only having one album and a handful of EPs, they still managed to play songs I’ve never heard before.

I don’t have anything new to add to my review of them. They’re still fantastic, if not a little quiet, though I’m pretty sure Matt talked more this time. My favourite part was when he encouraged people who had never seen them before to put down their phones for one song so that they could actually experience the band “without watching them through a screen”. Of course, half the people filmed this speech, which was sort of beside the point, but whatever floats their boat, I guess.

The “now everybody’s dead” part of “Robbers” continues to be chilling, and I live for the moment at the end of the show when they play “Chocolate” and “Sex” back to back.

The EP version, because the album version’s video is apparently “explicit”.

Another thing I liked – which I imagine the band also liked – was the way the crowd requested “Medicine”, their newest single, which I don’t think has even been properly released in North America. They looked stunned that a room full of Canadians knew about this song, and, had they been prepared, they might have played it. As it was, they promised to be back with a new album full of music, and I, for one, can’t wait until they come back.

 

For crying out loud, settle down

Back in October, we saw The 1975 for the first time – which was possibly their first ever Canadian show? – and we saw them again on Tuesday.

I’m still not sure who’s who – the one leaning against the wall is Matt Healy, the singer.

The first time we saw them, we went because Ro wanted to see them. I went into the show as a curious onlooker, and left as a fan. This time around, as soon as the Toronto date was announced, we jumped to get tickets (and dragged Nina with us).

The two opening bands were Sir Sly and Bad Suns. I honestly don’t remember my impressions of them, but they weren’t terrible. Just not very memorable, I guess.

The 1975 didn’t go on until 9:45pm which wasn’t ideal because it meant waiting a really long time (plus getting less sleep than usual, but I try not to say that out loud otherwise it makes me seem older than I am), but it was worth it.

They’re very simplistic on-stage: all the members were wearing black and/or white, the backdrop was an illuminated rectangle (like on their album cover), and even the lighting seemed conservative (compared to other UK acts, like Biffy Clyro or Muse). But they barrel through most of their catalogue, rarely speaking – in fact, only Matt, the singer, had a couple of things to say, mainly that he was surprised and gratified to see so many people in the crowd.

The last time they were here, they played the Mod Club (about 600 capacity); when this tour was announced they were originally supposed to play the Danforth Music Hall (1500 cap), but were quickly upgraded to the Kool Haus (which apparently has a 3000 person capacity!!) – and the show still sold out! They’ve been blowing up the British music scene with their catchy beats for the past year and it’s safe to say that they’re starting to take North America by storm.

I don’t know why they’re risen so quickly, especially when you consider that even British people have a hard time understanding Matt’s mumbled lyrics. It’s a lot of fun to hear the crowd trying to sing along (myself included), and there was something oddly haunting about nearly 3000 people screaming “Now everybody’s dead” during “Robbers”.

It was great seeing them that first time last October in a smaller venue, and their live performance was equally well-done in a larger room. If they continue on this same path, I’m sure they’ll be selling out arenas in a couple of years.

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!

My car smells like chocolate

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

This year, I am especially grateful for what I’m referring to as my TRIFECTA of shows. Over the course of 3 days, I will attend 3 different concerts (thus fulfilling one of my life goals).

Sunday (yesterday) was the start of this TRIFECTA, and we saw The 1975.

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I honestly can’t tell you who is who here except for the singer, Matty (the perplexed looking one with the crazy hair).

The 1975 is BLOWING UP overseas – by which I mean every other band/band member I follow has been talking about them. It was also their first show ever in Canada, and it SOLD OUT, so you know they’re something special (granted, it was the Mod Club, which isn’t the biggest venue in Toronto, but it’s still pretty impressive for a first visit!).

Their opening band, Linus Young was decent – somewhat folksy, and their songs ended quite abruptly. I can’t say I’d see them a second time on purpose, but they didn’t make my ears bleed.

The 1975 went on at 9ish and, as they only have one full-length album, they played most (if not all) of it in the hour-and-a-quarter they were onstage. I believe the Mod Club has a curfew, so they skipped the “going offstage and waiting for you to scream before they come out for an encore” bit (which I prefer – we ALL KNOW you’re coming back out, why make us wait those extra few minutes?).

One thing about The 1975 is that it’s very hard to understand them (they’re British). The first time I heard “Chocolate”, I thought it was just me, but even DJs over on BBC Radio 1 have issues sometimes.

We’ve got guns hidden under our petticoats.

They were excellent! They didn’t talk much – though at one point Matty said “I’m kinda shy and there are a lot of people here” which is one of the most precious things I’ve ever heard a singer say. Shy or not, they did a fantastic job and were a lot of fun to hear! I’ve only listened to their album a handful of times, but because of their aforementioned heavy accents, it was easy to pretend to be singing along (no one can judge you for not singing the right words if they can’t understand the original singer to begin with).

Another nice moment was when they first walked on stage. Matty saluted the screaming crowd, then turned and raised his cup to those of us on the balcony. That’s the first time I’ve seen a singer do that at the beginning of a show instead of halfway through and it showed how much they appreciated the amount of people who came out to see them at their first Canadian show.

This was a band that I went to see because Ro wanted to, but after listening to their album and especially after seeing them live, I would definitely see them again! And since they said they’ll be back in Toronto next year…well, I guess I’ll see you there!