As Bonobo, Simon Green’s primarily electronic compositions have won critical praise. However, on this latest tour, they’ve been seamlessly translated to the live stage as Green is backed by a band of talented multi-instrumentalists. Opening up with new songs, like “Kiara” and “Kong”, it became evident that everyone on hand was already well versed in the new material, which had only been circulating for a few weeks now. But of course we can’t forget the throwback classics, specifically “Noctuary” and “Days to Come”, which have now been perfected by Bonobo and his band.
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It’s Saturday night at The Phoenix Concert Theatre and I’m ready to see Miike Snow. Having covered countless shows at this venue without an incident, I arrived at 8 PM for doors (per the venue’s website) unconcerned. Imagine my surprise when there was no one in line outside. Steeping through the doors, panic set in as I heard the instantly recognizable music of Miike Snow coming from inside the club. I was informed by staff that doors were in fact at 6 PM ,because of the long-weekend, and that Miike Snow had taken the stage at 7:30 PM. Subject to the usual three-song photo limit, I had obviously missed it and I would not be allowed to take pictures. In fact if I wanted to enter, I would have had to check my camera. Deflated, I left to the continuing sounds of Miike Snow.
Philadelphia shoegazers A Sunny Day In Glasgow played Friday night at The Garrison. I really liked the band’s recent release, Nitetime Rainbows EP, so I was anxious to hear how their moody strings and keyboards would translate live. Doors at The Garrison were scheduled to open at 8 PM. Considering I had never been to the venue and recent reviews had described it as one of Toronto’s new spots in the “hipper” west side, I arrived at 8 PM to ensure I would get a good spot to shoot from. The place was completely empty. Most of the chairs were still stacked in the corner and the screeching of guitars and mad drumming could be heard as sound check just got underway. A bartender appeared a few minutes later and informed me doors were at 9:00 PM.
It’s quite remarkable, really: when they take the stage, the members of the Smith Westerns project a world-weary disinterest that performers twice their age would be hard pressed to match. Everything else about them, however, screams youthful exuberance, from their willingness to strike rock god poses (an additional spotlight that was trained on guitarist Max Kakacek was turned on only during solos) down to the magic marker ‘X’s on their hands. Barreling through a set of ramshackle garage-rock that pointed, unabashedly, toward the monsters of glam, psych and classic rock, the band made no bones about their ambitions. When someone yelled out, “Play the hits!” frontman Cullen Omori coolly snapped back, “They’re all hits”, without missing a beat.
Opening act So Cow took a very different stance toward the audience, though their lo-fi indie-pop was no less rewarding. Playing mostly tracks off of their self-titled singles collection (they also have a new full-length LP, Meaningless Friendly, out on Tic-Tac-Totally), the Irish bedroom-pop act was bouncy, engaging and tons of fun. When frontman Brian Kelly’s glasses started slipping off of his face, he unhesitatingly handed them to a girl in the front row. “Can you put these in a bag or a pocket?” he asked, politely. “Just keep them safe.”