. : : May 27th, 2011 : : .
I discovered Telekinesis in an unusual way. The band’s only permanent member and brainchild, Michael Lerner, sat in on drums for The Long Winters for a set shortly after Nabil Ayers migrated east. In a posting on the official Long Winters message board, a reviewer made special mention of Lerner, under-scoring its note-worthiness as Telekinesis, not only a local indie rock band but Michael is also the younger brother of Erika Lerner, a member of Barsuk Records‘ (the Long Winters’ label) management team. As a Barsuk street teamer for Toronto, I reported back to Erika, and we had a good rapport. It was all very Nine Degrees of Kevin Bacon-ish. Anyway, I’m sure I’ve written about this before. Long story short, I went blindly into a Telekinesis show based solely on the familiar relations and fell in love. Which is probably evident by the fact that this will be the fourth Telekinesis show I’ve seen, recorded, and posted in the last eight months.
So, yeah. I’m a bit of a Telekinesis fan. Their latest album, 12 Desperate Straight Lines (not a cocaine reference, I’m told), has proven a mainstay on my playlist, and I’m still discovering songs on the older releases I’d overlooked before. I went into their show opening for Portugal. The Man at Lee’s Palace with high expectations. The band had yet to disappoint, and this would be the best venue they’ve played in Toronto yet.
So, I panicked a bit when I got to Lee’s Palace (predictably early) and there was already a line. A fairly long one, at that. The rain had MOSTLY stopped, so I got into line and bode my time. But the panic increased tenfold when a gentleman started walking down the line announcing there would be NO tickets available at the doors. Really? Had it sold out? Or were tickets never going to be available at the door? There was no “at door” price listed at Lee’s website, but why wouldn’t they if it hadn’t sold out?
I tried to calm myself down — this guy might just be trying to make people like me, without a ticket, get out of line and go home early so he could be bumped up, have a better chance of getting in, and a greater selection of spots to camp with the best sight lines. After all, I’d commuted all the way in from the east end, I wasn’t going to give up so easily.
The line seemed to take forever to get moving. The panic probably didn’t help matters. But this wouldn’t be much of a blog entry if I got to the front and they wouldn’t let me in, would it? So, $18 and a big sigh of relief later, and I was inside. But something was different? I made my way to my usual spot, but it was taken. I would have to adjust. I looked around, wondering what had changed… hmm. THE SPEAKERS WERE GONE. The stacks I had taped so many excellent concerts at Lee’s Palace were gone, replaced by floating stacks, suspended several feet up and pointed more towards centre. This would change my entire recording routine for the venue.
I did some triangulation (ha!) and roughed out an approximate equivalent, and decided right by the stairs closed to the stage leading to the dance floor would be primo. But while I set up my mics, a young couple set up camp there. Dang. I’m nothing if not a fast thinker, so I improvised, criss-crossed the venue, and ended up setting up shop at the same spot on the left hand side of the venue. Which ended up working in my favour, because each of the evenings three bands were shuffled off a bit to the left hand side.
I will qualify that by saying that Portugal. The Man’s dormant equipment took up more than a fair chunk of the stage. The two opening bands had minimal, cramped square footage to work with. Once Telekinesis took to the stage, it was promptly clear the band would use every one of those inches. Guitarist Cody Votolato rocked out hard, flailing around the stage like a man possessed, while bassist Jason Narducy had a more subtle, laid-back sort of rock out that only the best bassist can pull off — but even that was interrupted by the occasional jump kick or spin move.
Lerner’s hypnotic lead vocals while performing percussion is, was and probably always will be the real show-stealer, though. Careful listeners and fans will note that the seemingly impossible feat isn’t proven impossible. The beat is dropped from time-to-time (although almost imperceptibly, and immediately picked back up again) and more frequently, words are missed, cut prematurely, or sung with a cracked voice. It’s a minor quip all but unnoticed, and entirely forgiven or forgotten by the room full of people who are too busy being floored by the inimitable energy emerging from behind the Gumby and Pokey figurines adorning Lerner’s colourful bass drum.
Telekinesis used their short 45-minute opening set wisely, managing to cram in a baker’s dozen songs representing both of their albums pretty fairly. Of each of the times I’ve seen the band perform, I’d have to classify this one as the most non-stop, action-packed, highly-energized show yet. The band started firing on all cylinders, and only increased momentum as the set wore on.
The recording itself turned out quite well. Each of the instruments is well-represented and comes through clearly, and the lyrics are upfront and loud. The only thing stopping this from being one of my all-time best is I was promptly joined by a small group of youngsters who felt yelling in each other’s ears not ten feet from the venue’s speakers would be a better way to communicate than, you know, moving to the back of the venue. So you hear them from time to time — especially on the quieter songs. What can you do?
01. You Turn Clear In The Sun
02. Imaginary Friend
04. Car Crash
05. 50 Ways
06. Country Lane
08. I Cannot Love You
12. Foreign Room
14. Dirty Thing
15. Awkward Kisser
17. Coast of Carolina
20. Please Ask For Help
Thanks to Telekinesis, Portugal. The Man, Lee’s Palace and everyone involved with this great night.