If you happened to be driving along Sherbourne Street in Toronto last night, the spectacle outside the Phoenix Concert Theatre might have caused you to hit the brakes, stop, and stare. The line of people aged 19 to 60-something wearing telescopic red helmets, yellow jump suits, and retro plaid suits was a block long. They weren’t attending a late-night geek convention; they were there to see new wave punks, and legends, Devo, performing in town for the first time in 25 years.
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I am a total outsider to Swedish pop-rock. My knowledge and interest barely touches ABBA’s catalog, let alone the more contemporary Peter Bjorn and John. From the bands I have heard, which are limited and obvious, I have not been sold. Armed with this mentality, I walked into the Metro whistling their catchy 2006 hit, “Young Folks,” and not quite knowing what to expect from the trio.
The question of the night for El Ten Eleven was “Why aren’t you playing bigger venues?” The groovy electro-funk duo made their first ever Philadelphia tour stop at the Khyber Bar in front of a very appreciative but small crowd. The bar itself was cozy and, as hinted, a small place—making it a great place to see bands up close while downing dollar PBR’s.
On Wednesday night, Savannah, Georgia metal act Baroness kicked off its fall tour at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington D.C. Living up to their reputation for outstanding live shows, the four-piece brought to the stage nearly every quality that makes Blue Record one of the year’s best metal albums: bone-crunching riffs, anthemic vocals, hushed interludes, driving rhythms, and guitar acrobatics galore. But it was the band’s delivery and onstage chemistry, rather than their technical skill, that won over the packed room. Finger-pulls and pinch harmonics usually seem like hard work, but that wasn’t the case with Baroness. For such serious musicians, it looked like they were having a lot of fun.
Everything about singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield is both incredibly practiced yet incredibly sincere—a binary that becomes only more compelling in consideration of her 1989 birthday. The maturity of it all would indicate a serious age discrepancy, yet here she is at 19, kicking ass on multiple best-of lists and touring the country well outside her home base of Kent, Ohio. Taken under the wing of fellow Ohio native Dan Auerbach for this current tour (and in the studio for her 2008 full-length With Blasphemy So Heartfelt), she creates stunning folk-rock with lyrics that carry a distinct pent-up weightiness to them.
// Moving Pixels
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