BEATS! BREAKS! CULTURE! PLAYLISTS!
Quite possibly the best thing about the annual Beats, Breaks and Culture Festival in Toronto every July is that concert goers can see several kickass, braintwistingly fantastic groups from both our own scene and others for the low price of $0. Most of these groups would cost at least $10 to see on their own, if not $20 or $30, so it's quite the treat. To be dancing by the lake at night to the backdrop of our futuristopian condo landscape carries with it some kind of sweeping "ahhhhhh" to it that even if the show isn't all that it's cracked up to be, the experience is still quite nice.
"Yo, Toronto, where ma mix at? Turn them shits up!" said the performers collectively at Beats, Breaks and Culture.
That was certainly the case this year, or at least it was with Saturday's show. The one problem with the CIBC Stage is that the engineers keep the overall front of house levels quieter than your average outdoor concert, leaving the mix somewhat muddy. Subtler instruments and tones have a harder time poking through the mix, and often, the result is that the best players get buried in a wash of reverberating bass. Out Hud's set, for instance, was marred by this quietness, and while they put on a gratifying show, the balls-out heaviness of the drums that comes through on their albums was missing, while the electric cello that differentiates them from other electro groups was lost to our ears during even some of the less intense moments. Still, the band made what they could of the subdued, seated early crowd. The girls danced spiritedly when their instruments were on autoplay, while Nic Offer did scissor-arm dances on the stage's lower catwalk. "I love it when it's like, hella hot out," he said in his Sacramento drawl, "and like, no one's dancing but there's like, two ravers goin' *freakishly movies his shoulders and wailis his head around*!" He was thoroughly applauded for that statement and accompanying mock dance, but the audience didn't take his cue and remained seated until sundown.
What Out Hud looks like through my bay window.
The Quantic Soul Orchestra followed with a meaty funk set to a more appreciative but largely starchy crowd. Whenever the trumpets struck, it could be felt in our loins and we clapped and cheered as if sexually satisfied, while the lovely Miss Alice Russel, with the wind blowing so gracefully through her black flapper dress, never struck a sour note. It's nice to see a singer smile, especially when she's gorgeous in a motherly way and wears a pretty flower in her hair. Once again, the crowd was content, yet the dancing was minimal and the spirits too blah-zay for my liking.
The Quantic Soul Orchestra looked something like this on Saturday night at Harbourfront.
From there I headed to the tent where the mysterious Jake Fairley was spinning one of his apocalyptic house music sets, but it was too crowded and awash with district-type clubbers for me to desire a venture on the inside, so I headed to the Brigantine Room for a tight performance by We Are Wolves, three bilingual Montrealers who entered the stage with colourful, kaleidescopic plastic kites masking the lower halves of their faces. Despite more sound problems on the side of muddiness, the group got our stiff legs boucning again with their bare-bones, punk rock approach to dance music.
We Are Wolves looked nothing like this on Saturday night at Harbourfront.
Although I could hear them from a ways away, I missed Brian Bordchert's Holy Fuck due to a chance encounter with my friend Grasshopper, who I accompanied with a few others on a walk through the portlands that culminated in late-night visit to the Toronto Music Garden. If you haven't been there before, check it out, as it's one of the few beautiful spots on an otherwise dumpy lakeshore. It's design is inspired by a Bach piece and houses a wildlife sanctuary for birds and large flying insects.
I would have to say that I came out slightly underappreciative of this show, not necessarily because of any serious flaws in its design or upkeep. The acts were a great choice and the crowd was interested, but the energy was quite low from start to finish, so nothing was as spectacular as it could have been, at least not as amazing as last year's final night with Caribou (then Manitoba) and Jaga Jazzist blasting our faces with truly memorable performances. But all in all, I applaud the folks at Harbourfront who continue to provide our broke asses with free concerts by the lake.
Please notice that on the left hand side, underneath our links section, is a new hit counter that was installed about two hours ago. So far, it reads 10 hits, which means that at this rate, we'll have 219,000 hits by the end of the decade.
ESB PLAYLIST 7/8/05
Back to the old format of not waiting several weeks to deliver a goddamn playlist! Downloads have also been reintegrated...
HANK COLLECTIVE - Defreeze and Top Gal
LENIN I SHUMOV - Ponra
* Toronto has been getting a lot of attention these days from Brighton, England's 20JazzFunkGreats. These guys even chose the Constantines' Shine a Light as their dedication track to the people of London after last week's bomb attacks. Read the very thoughtful post and download the song, as well as the following tunes I picked up from them over the past couple of weeks. Everyday, these guys post more and more obscure and outrageous music that cannot be found in too many places. I love this blog so much I want to spunk all over it.
HAWKWIND - Opa Lola (Betty Botox Reworking)
DENNIS YOUNG - Signal Up Ahead (Stromba Remix)
LIQUID LIQUID - Optimo (courtesy of Snake Eyes)
GLASS CANDY - Life After Sundown
* After a hiatus, Goldkixx is back to posting disco-rock, folk-punk and the latest in Montreal underground music. More to come from them next week...
SEAHORSE LIBERATION ARMY - We Set Paris On Fire (Updated Version)
SEAHORSE LIBERATION ARMY - Ye Ye Cambodia
* The group we just can't stop loving has re-recorded their hit, which is now less lo-fi and more vocally clear. The next track is also quite a wonder, as I'm not sure if the mastermind behind this project has pitch-shifted his own voice or sampled some obscure Cambodian pop.
WOLF PARADE - You Are A Runner and I am My Father's Son
*Their new EP drops tomorrow, so Sub Pop has posted an mp3 of the first single so you can fall in love with it and be the first indie-kid on your gentrified city block to buy it.
THE EMPIRES - Lesbian Games
THE EMPIRES - Mattoo
* Download these new tracks from anew local group on a new local blog called Are You Familiar? which I believe is run by eye mag editor / Tow Koreas frontman Stuart Berman.
...AS THE POETS AFFIRM - A Lie Told Before Breakfast
FINAL FANTASY - IF I Were a Carp (Live @ Music Gallery)
* Download both of these tunes at the best Canadian music blog ever.
ESB PLAYLIST 7/1/05
SPOON - I Turn My Camera On
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE ft. VASHTI BUNYAN - Prospect Hummer
ANNIE - My Heartbeat
JAGA JAZZIST - Oslo Skyline
A NORTHERN CHORUS - The Shepherd and the Chauffeur
DESTROYER - The Music Lovers
NEW PORNOGRAPHERS - Twin Cinema
* All of these new tunes (some fresher than others) are available through Thomas Bartlet's Audiofile Archive at Salon.com. This guy's site is incredibly entertaining and resourceful, as it has not only a daily download and artist profile but a corporate-sponsored Summer Soundtrack contest that has all the tunes you'll need to spend the next two months in the sun.
NEW PORNOGRAPHERS - Bleedng Heart Show
HEXES AND OHS - The Shape is Me
WOLF PARADE - Shine A Light
* All from Stereogum.
PETE SHELLEY - Homosapien Dub
* Courtesy of DJ Seez.
ESG - My Love for You
* Recently played Toronto during Pride Weekend at Wil Munro's Vazaleen party. It was yet another reward for Toronto audiences and their embracement of influential early 80s dance-punk, to which shows earlier in the year from the likes of Gang of Four and Mission of Burma would attest.