Posts Tagged ‘lee’s palace’

The Besnard Lakes + Suuns at Lee’s Palace

February 9, 2011

It was a Montreal takeover at Lee’s on Saturday January 29th, as rockers The Besnard Lakes and emerging proggers Suuns played Toronto. It was a perfect storm of music and mayhem as several Aquarians (including myself) all convened at the show to conclude a week long celebration of birthdays. We missed opening act Valleys, but arrived just in time for Suuns, whose album Zeroes QC has been on heavy rotation on my stereo as of late. They played a tight set but I found the sound was a bit muddied, the bass too low in the mix, and the keyboards too loud, as if the sound guys had everything tweaked just right for the Besnards and didn’t want to touch the board for Suuns. Still, the young band were great and I look forward to seeing them again soon.

Sound problems were definitely not an issue for The Besnard Lakes, who played an amazing set, showcasing their 2010 release The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night. Halfway through their set, fuelled by Jameson and Redbull, I too began to think I was the roaring night and started to veer off into the world of savagery. Nevertheless, the show still absolutely rocked. Rich White’s guitar was tight and loud, and Jace Lasek’s voice was immaculate, as was Olga Goreas’ driving bass. The Besnard Lakes are one of the best live bands around, and overall you couldn’t ask for a better night of MTL rock and roll at Lee’s. Right, Stew?

*photos courtesy of Mateusz Garbulinski

Foals at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

October 2, 2010

27 September 2010

UK indie rockers, Foals, returned to Lee’s Palace on Monday in support of their sophomore release Total Life Forever and played to a sold out crowd. The band got off to a moody start with a somewhat choppy version of “Miami”, as it seemed to take frontman Yannis Philipakkis a couple tracks to get into the mood of the set. Also, guitarist Jimmy Smith suffered from constant technical difficulties with his guitar, which halted the momentum of the show on quite a few occasions. Still, Foals blasted through tracks off of Total Life Forever and Antidotes to the crowd’s delight. The crowd danced and screamed and sang along, reaching frenzy during the kick in “Spanish Sahara”.

I thought it was a good show, but wasn’t as impressed as I was after their first stop at Lee’s in the spring of 2008. And I’ll tell you why: firstly, they did not play “Black Gold”, which is my favourite song off of their new album, and arguably the strongest song they have written to date. Secondly, I found the show to go completely against everything the band has claimed they have become (more mature, dynamic, and understated) since the release of Antidotes. At this show, Yannis acted like a bit of a rockstar, kicking over mic stands and beer bottles, running into the crowd with his “wireless” guitar, jumping on the bar and (accidentally) smashing a light. Sure, it’s all good showmanship, but there was something in his overall manner and attitude that took away from the authenticity of it all. To me, it seemed like he would’ve rather been somewhere else. The rest of the band fulfilled their duties well, bass and drums as tight as ever, and keyboard dude still just as superfluous.

Lastly, and perhaps this is what irked me the most, was that instead of nurturing this new maturity and dynamism on stage, their live show was overly loud, prone to drawn-out jams, and at times down right sloppy. I had expected their live performance would have gotten tighter and stronger since their first trip across the pond, but instead they relied on older material and amplifier volume to fill in the blanks and in the end it fell flat. Nevertheless, Total Life Forever will still be up there on my end of year list and it was a good show, but Foals still have some growing up to do.

Peace.

POLVO at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

August 14, 2010

13 August 2010

Post rock legends, POLVO, played a tight set at Lee’s Palace on Friday night in Toronto, giving aging fanboys one last chance to get their rocks off to the twisted tunings and weirdo time signatures that made Polvo revered and adored in the mid-nineties. Polvo called it quits in 1998 after the release of their sixth album Shapes, but returned last year with the excellent In Prism, and luckily Toronto was one of the stops on their brief summer tour with Versus.

On paper this line-up is my high school wet dream: Polvo and Versus playing together! It seemed too good to be true . . . and in the end, it was. Versus’ drummer, Ed Baluyut, was a no-show because his wife had a baby, so the drummer for opening band Soft Copy filled in. Under the circumstances, he did a great job, but was obviously hesitant. They managed to play hits “Blade of Grass”, “River” and “Be-9” from The Stars are Insane, which ended up sounding pretty good, but overall it just wasn’t how I imagined it.

Polvo hit the stage next and were amazingly tight. Ridiculously tight. Hard to explain how good they were. They opened with an extended version of “Fast Canoe” that varied from the original but sounded fantastic. They debuted a new song, and played “The Pedlar”, “Right the Relation” and “Beggars Bowl” off of In Prism, “Thermal Treasure”, “Lazy Comet”, and “My Kimono” from Today’s Active Lifestyles, “Bombs that Fall from your Eyes” from This Eclipse, “Feather of Forgiveness” from Exploded Drawing, “Enemy Insects” from Shapes and other hits. In short, it was a great show. You really couldn’t complain.

But overall it made me feel strange. As if I shouldn’t be allowed to see Polvo again after all these years. They are a memory and should stay that way. All these reunion shows over the last few years have us churning up nostalgia in massive quantities, watching older versions of the heroes of our youth trying to relive the days of their youth — and even though it’s wonderful to be able to see your favourite band again, it’s just never quite the same.

Ian Cohen’s review on Pitchfork of The Suburbs by Arcade Fire says that the main focus of their new album is on the “quiet desperation borne of compounding the pain of wasting your time as an adult by romanticizing the wasted time of your youth.” There is something very profound in this quote that resonates with me, and my experience of seeing a decade older Polvo blast out the hits made me think of this. You see, I’m a sucker for nostalgia, a goddamn sap, I love to stir up old feelings that I can’t quite comprehend anymore, love to secretly get weepy over times gone by — but now as I’m figuring out how to step confidently into my early thirties, I feel it’s time to leave this old stuff behind, it’s time only for constant steps forward and further and onward.

Sure, it’s nice to go back every now and again, but that was it for me. The clincher. Seeing Polvo and Versus was the culmination of the very end of my youth. There. It is done. I am a motherfucking adult. Finally.

Thank you Polvo and Versus for helping me affirm this once and for all.

Tortoise at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

February 20, 2010

18 February 2010

Post-rock darlings Tortoise played to a packed house at Lee’s Palace on Thursday night in Toronto and effortlessly showed the crowd why they are one of the best bands in the business. Playing choice tracks from their extensive repertoire, they had us hanging on every note, synth line, and cymbal crash — and I gotta say, the crowd at Lee’s was one of the most agreeable Toronto audiences I’ve experienced in recent memory. Strangers cheered and slapped each other five, all of us momentarily morphing into a contented collective that was simply enraptured by Tortoise’s good vibes.

Tortoise are professional musicians that love what they do, and it’s wonderfully apparent on stage, as they’re grooving and smiling and rocking out a fabulously tight set. With two drum kits up front, and synths, Vibraphone, guitars, and an electronic xylophone set up around them, the quintet played tracks from their latest release “Beacons of Ancestorship”, and fed the crowd hits from “TNT” and “Standards”. They came out for two encores and ended with one of my all time faves, “Glass Museum”. It was an emotional, nostalgic, and mature set that never failed to impress. Simply put, you can’t go wrong seeing these guys.

Tortoise and I have a long history together. I have been with them since the beginning. I’ve seen them play live 7 or 8 times. I saw them at The Magic Stick in Detroit for their “Millions Now Living” tour way back when, where they showed up on stage silent like automatons with little headlamps and played “Djed” in its entirety. Jeff Parker wasn’t even with them yet. And now over a decade later, they’ve only gotten tighter and classier at their craft, and it’s amazing that at the same time they remind me of good times and great memories from the past, they’re also launching me into this new and bright decade. Love ’em.

Peace.