The foundations of Kool Haus shook Wednesday night with two bands that know exactly what a rock and roll band should sound like. Australia’s Wolfmother, famous for their hair and incredibly loud guitar-driven rock, headlined the evening with the support of Cincinnati’s Heartless Bastards, who opened with a stellar performance of their own and are sure to be headlining in the not too distant future. Guitarist and singer Erika Wennerstrom sounded especially solid during the Bastard’s performance of “The Mountain,” conjuring Siouxsie Sioux with her vocals. The audience reacted positively to the Bastards’ set and I’m sure most would have been happy to hear a few more songs from the band, despite their obvious anticipation for Wolfmother.
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It was like driving through a dark night with David Lynch at the wheel. Mount Eerie, the moniker of Phil Everum who also has released albums as The Microphones, has always been more on the human side than most musicians dare venture, exploring the outer regions of cerebral metaphor. Elverum has also proved himself to be adept in his collaborations with others, most recently with Julie Doiron for 2008’s Lost Wisdom.
It was an unseasonably warm November night in Toronto and the humidity inside the El Mocambo had many patrons wearing t-shirts and thirsting for beer. After a considerable wait, the Fiery Furnace’s guitarist and co-founder Matthew Friedberger stepped onto the stage inciting cheers and whistles. Drummer Bob D’Amico and Bassist Jason Loewenstein accompanied him. It wasn’t until they had instruments in hand that Eleanor, the group’s other co-founder and sister to Matthew, made her appearance causing fans to bolster their enthusiastic greeting. A quick wave from Matthew and the show was under way. Lowenstein led with a bass line that sent the speakers crackling, making them sound like they would inevitably blow. A few adjustments on the sound board had things back under control before the rest of the band joined in.
In the vain of kids who grew up listening to ABBA and dreamed of playing to millions with a blast of arena rock against some catchy pop hooks, Sweden’s The Sounds are all about delivery. The five-piece has been around for a decade and has slowly seen their popularity increase in North America, allowing them to sell out increasingly larger venues. Though this was the last night of their North American tour, The Sounds seemed far from exhausted while on stage, giving the audience their all.
Upon ascending the stairs at DC9 Wednesday night, I was greeted by a haze of digital chirps and static. Growing, a three-piece noise outfit from Brooklyn, had already launched into their set and I couldn’t make heads or tails of what I was hearing. Order did start to emerge from the chaos, however, as I discerned a method to the madness. Using two guitars, an army of effects pedals and countless sequencers, drum machines and synths, the band built up and tore down a series of warped, disorienting sound collages, underpinned by harsh, driving beats. It felt like the ideal appetizer for what was to come: a set full of epic melodies constructed from bits of digital detritus. I’m talking about Fuck Buttons. The group ably lived up to their reputation for captivating, visceral live shows. They opened, appropriately enough, with their latest single, “Surf Solar,” a ten-minute epic that finds buzzsaw guitars and battery-powered crescendos riding atop a massive, club-friendly beat. Throughout the night, the band toed the line between accessibility and inscrutability, making sure to temper big melodic gestures with blasts of atonal noise. Regardless, the crowd was hooked from the first song until the set’s abrupt end, at which point the two band members, who hadn’t uttered a word all night, simply packed up their gear and walked off as if nothing had ever happened.