The Rest @ Tranzac

. : : December 16th, 2011 : : .

I was excited to see Danny Michel play Lee’s Palace for a couple of months. Danny is one of my all-time favourite live performers, and after missing him play southern Ontario gigs of various sizes a couple of times over the summer, I was happy he’d be playing what was sure to be a good show close to home.

That is, of course, Until The Rest announced their special Restivus show. On one hand, you had Danny Michel. On the other? Both The Rest and Dark Mean. Then again, it was the first time I’d been able to see Danny Michel in months, and I’ve seen The Rest a number of times over the summer and autumn. But…Restivus was cheaper. I was tormented, and for a couple of weeks, went back-and-forth on which way I was going to sway.

When it was announced that Restivus would be The Rest’s longest-ever show, featuring revivals of old songs and the debut of new ones, plus the promise of egg nog, a craft table, and some face time with The Rest’s phenomenally talented Anna Jarvis and her wickedly improvisational culinary skills finally knocked me off of the fence. Man, was it a difficult choice!

I’m still not sure if it was the RIGHT choice, but it’s a choice I’d have a hard time regretting.

I’d never been to Tranzac before, and the venue feels very much like the inside of a high school auditorium. With only two (cheapish-looking) speakers on stands on either side of the stage, and scattered plastic chairs and flimsy tables along either wall lengthwise, it was hard not to feel like I was back in a grade school dance.

The soundboard was a medium-sized mixer placed on a basic sitting table in the middle of the room, and I spent much of the night recording from beside him. For The Rest, however? I wanted to be closer to the action. So, I crossed the room diagonally to the right-hand speaker, and staked my spot for the best sound-to-view ratio.

Some of my favourite The Rest concert moments are when they rock so hard, shit breaks. The first time I saw the band, I was won over by a version of Walk On Water whose final chord literally crashed atop the collapsed the keyboard stand. This time, not long into the set, it was the band’s exceptionally rockin’ version of John Huston (the first time the song has been played live in Toronto since I’ve started following them) overloaded the sound system, causing the show to come to a heart-stopping screeching halt. Luckily, the system was brought back online after only a minute or two, albeit at a slightly lower volume from there on out.

The band gets frequent comparisons to Radiohead, and songs such as Who Knows definitely justifies the comparison, but to write them off as such is a great disservice. Dark, melodic, moody, and yes, even yelpy, but Radiohead was far from the first bands to lay claim to those combinations of adjectives. More than the sum of their influences, The Rest bring originality to their compositions and energy to their performances that is second to none.

Innocent Fools, for example, explodes into a cacophony of drums and feedback that usually signals a song’s conclusion. The Rest instead use the chaos to transition to a poppy, new wave-inspired movement that is infectious. Always On My Mind is a methodically-paced grungy shoegaze number that is a perfect A-side for a digital single (available here! FOR FREE!).

After the standard closing number, The Close Western, the audience cried desperately for an encore — but due to a delayed start and local noise bylaws, the band was restricted by an already broken curfew. But for those left wanting more, good news! The band will be playing a secret show (shhhh!) at The Piston this Thursday. Don’t miss it!

The recording sounds surprisingly good (see sample below, as always!), and is well worth a download and listen. Another triumphant set!

01. [introduction]
02. Walk On Water
03. [banter]
04. Hey! For Horses
05. John Huston [abandoned]
06. John Huston
07. Laughing Yearning
08. Who Knows
09. [banter]
10. Sheep In Wolves Clothing
11. The Last Day
12. Coughing Blood, Fresh Mountain Air
13. Innocent Fools
14. [banter]
15. Always On My Mind
16. [banter]
17. The Close Western

[info.txt // flac fingerprint ]
[ Request FLAC or MP3 Download ]

John Huston (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]

Happy Restivus to the many members of The Rest and Tranzac.

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