Bands all have their own personal motivations for putting on great shows. Some are looking to give the fans what they want or deserve while some bands play with abandon, hoping to celebrate one last time and drain their instruments of every last note and chord in order to clear the slate for the next chapter of their career.
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There were many wonderful things about this year’s installment of the Blip Festival, the flagship annual gathering of electronica enthusiasts who write their songs using ancient video game hardware, but I’ll artificially limit myself here so we can all pretend I came up with a clever angle on this review (glomag and Psilodump, in particular, get the short end of this deal—sorry, guys). Thus, 8 Bits from Blip:
Fighter X dancing: Youngish probably-hipster dudes in tight pants and floppy hair shoveling out manic, skittering Game Boy duels. Even if they sometimes came across as a sort of sleazy fun-loving Europop compared to their fellow performers (hey, there’s a place for that stuff too), the lengthy continuous set was very impressive, as was their tendency to abandon tending to the devices and instead jump around the stage or go crowd surfing, especially given that they have such small memory banks. The Game Boys, I mean.
Two Thursdays ago, Chicago’s Kinetic Playground played host to the Waka Winter Classic, a travelling promotion of the 7th Annual Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival seeking additions to the festival’s 2010 lineup. At every stop several bands battle onstage in a regional talent showcase. Fans then vote for their favorite act, and the band with the most votes earns a spot to play at the festival.
It may seem like a strange thing to say about a band that strictly plays cover songs, but Nouvelle Vague has found their niche. But then, Nouvelle Vague are a far cry from the visions typically connoted by the words “cover band”. If their three studio albums and international touring didn’t already solidify that fact, then one only needed to be present at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall Friday night listening to the crowd demand their second encore.
With temperatures hovering around minus 20 degrees Celsius, Thursday was the perfect evening to stay home under blankets, on the couch, watching a movie and sipping hot chocolate. But Toronto does love live music and when one of the night’s performers happens to be local talent Barzin, its well worth it to bundle up and brave the elements. The opening act of a three-band sold out bill, Barzin (playing acoustic guitar) treated fans to his special blend of melancholy folk-music supported by Nick Zubeck on electric guitar, Marshal Bureau on drums, Darren Wall on bass and Terri Parker on keys. The saturating red glow of the Drake Hotel’s custom stage lighting created a mellow ambience to the dreamy fluidity of “Let’s Go Driving” and “Past All Concerns”. Sitting and listening, it was easy to block out background conversation and get lost in the heart-felt sadness that Barzin’s voice so easily conveys. The band also performed newer material such as “Queen Jane” from the 2009 release Notes To An Absent Lover. A highlight performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me To The End Of Love” and “Just More Drugs” ended the set. A more personal highlight moment was actually meeting Barzin on my way out. One on one, he is soft-spoken, friendly and genuine, further convincing me that his stage persona and the emotion in the music he writes are completely authentic.