Emilie Mover‘s performance in January of 2013 was another in a series of concerts I’d EQ’d, tracked, started the info file for, and just didn’t finish…
… with one notable exception: It has a much better story.
Set to open for Brooklyn’s Wakey!Wakey!, the Drake Underground was decently occupied with fans. Probably the most fans of any Wakey!Wakey! performance to date, which was exceptional because it was a freezing cold Canadian night, with a steady, solid stream of snowfall.
Things were slow to get started, and when Emilie finally took the stage, it was clear it was an unusual pairing.
Whitehorse has remained one of the hardest working, most visible bands during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The band had a weekly Happy Hour Facebook and Twitter streaming concert, put on for free, for about 3 months. They launched a Patreon, performed a couple of Christmas-adjacent sets from the head office of their record label, released an album, performed a set at a movie theatre drive-in, launched the Horseshoe Hootenanny live stream series with a record release party for their disc, Modern Love, and performed another set live with the Kitchener-Waterloo Orchestra.
This recording, of the aforementioned record release party at the Horseshoe Tavern, was the first full-band show (out of necessity, due to pandemic restrictions) since 2019 if I’m not mistaken, and features a familiar line up of Ryan Gavel, Johnny Obercian, and Gregory MacDonald (who seems to be a part of every second name-recognizable band in the country!) alongside husband and wife core duo Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet.
The performance was broken into two sets: the first, an introduction to the Modern Love album, with a selection of six of the dozen songs featured. The second was a quick run through of several obvious, greatest hits tracks from their earlier catalogue.
After EQing, tracking, and then opting not to post Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s opening set at Massey Hall in 2012, I decided to check the status of the evening’s headliner, Grizzly Bear.
Boy, was I shocked to see the work was already done! Tracked, EQ’ed, encoded, and ready to be uploaded. More so, I was blown away that the recording actually sounds leagues better than the opening band’s.
Lyrics are only slightly distant, rather than virtually inaudible. Drums are a bit reverb-y, but otherwise crisp and clear. Guitars are chimey and present. Only the bass sounds like I rolled it back a bit too far.
Why didn’t I post this back in 2012 then? They were a significant band in the Pitchfork-endorsed indie circle. The show has a couple of special local guests: Leslie Fiest and Owen Pallett. The sound quality was pretty passable.
I’ve mentioned a few times — I really, really hate the sound at Massey Hall, and have no idea how it’s earned the prestige it has locally or internationally. It has uncomfortable seats, poor sight lines, and stadium-tier acoustics in a mid-sized theatre.
Listening back to this tape of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, a band I’d previous seen under significantly improved conditions at the far-superior Lee’s Palace, I was instantly reminded as to why the recording has sat on a shelf for the better part of a decade.
The instruments were muddy. The vocals sounded like they were in another room. You’d never know my seat for the show was actually pretty decent, if slightly off to the side (but closer to the speakers!). Even an extensive EQ job barely makes this recording roughly a C- grade.
A couple of months back, I posted a 2011 recording from Toronto band, The Elwins. I’d already posted the evening’s headliners, Paper Lions, about a week after the concert. But I’ve somehow neglected to include The Love Machine‘s set from that evening yet.
Which is weird because I distinctly remember being really excited about their set and hoping to see more.
I did a poor job on following through, hadn’t heard a peep from them since, and figured their story ended the way so many young bands do.
Although it seems they’ve only released a single and EP since (within a couple of years of the debut LP Sweater Weather they were promoting back in 2011) and their .com website is offline, their social media remains relatively active and it looks like there were live shows as recent as 2018. Band members are pursuing other endeavours, but as far as I can tell, these guys are still at it!
When Portugal. The Man performed at Austin City Limits in 2013, they were still three and a half years away from their breakout single, Feel It Still. By this time, I’d already seen the band perform a few times and if you told me that by 2018 the band would be nominated (and win!) a Grammy Award for Best Pop Group Performance, I wouldn’t believe you.
That’s not to speak on their talent or their worthiness of such prestige — On the contrary, I thought they were fantastic! But they were heavy, and psychedelic, and more than a bit avaunt-guard. Their debut album, Waiter: “You Vultures!” featured the song AKA M80 The Wolf, one of my favourite rock songs of the decade. Their follow up disc, Church Mouth, was experimental, bluesy, and challenging.
Their third album, Censored Colors, is when a pop-sensibility seemed to start to sneak in. But to the extent that they’d be Grammy-worthy? Seemed highly unlikely.
At that point, they were releasing new albums’ worth of material annually and continued to do so for their first six discs(!). It wasn’t until the Danger Mouse-produced Evil Friends, released in 2013 and the album being promoted on this ACL performance, that the band began taking time between album cycles.
The Omaha, Nebraska music scene seems to be particularly incestuous (in the best way possible).
The 2000’s saw an explosion of talent from the scene, including Azure Ray, Cursive, Bright Eyes, The Faint, and many others. If you are a fan of more than one or two of them, you were likely to see a familiar face or three among the groups, especially when touring.
It’s far from uncommon for members of the particular scene to be members in two, three, even four other local bands. It’s equally common to see love and support between the bands; they’re often rep’ing other musician’s albums during interviews, online social media posts, and — more often than not — bringing them on tour.
So it wasn’t surprising when Tim Kasher, front-man for both Cursive and The Good Life (not to mention his ever-expanding solo body of work), brought along Conduits in the opening slot for a Cursive North American tour in 2012. Conduits were signed to Team Love, a indie record label started by his buddy Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes’ fame, and the band featured The Good Life percussionist, Roger Lewis.
Beams is a band hard to accurately pin down. Their music generally derives from classic folk instrumentation, but it’s the hyphen in the genre that seems to be contested.
One part alternative-rock, one part roots, another part psychedelic: I’m not exaggerating to say I’ve seen literal back-and-forth arguments on Reddit debating how exactly to classify the band — and I expect that’s by design.
Featuring a handful of Toronto’s most widely-recognizable indie musicians, everyone’s bringing something to the buffet, so to speak. Members have been featured here on the blog as participants in The Postage Stamps, Hamilton Trading Co., Freedom or Death, and Danielle Duval, but have also contributed to acts such as Dany Laj and the Looks, the Diableros, Ace of Wands, The Paper Makers, and many others.
Hey, remember about a month ago when I said I only had one more Nicole Atkins recording to share?
I was happily mistaken!
I also captured her performance on Late Show with David Letterman in January of 2015. At this point, Letterman was only four-months from retirement, but still brought the excitement and enthusiasm for his musical guests like it was his first week on the job.
Nicole and co. perform a version of Neptune City‘s War Torn that trades the lush keyboards of the recorded version for dreamy, reverb-drenched guitars that ultimately delves into a crunchy, distorted punch-in-the-face climax.
This Dave Hause recording has been sitting on my hard drive(s) for over five years, and even though the performers on either side of the night’s line up — Chris Farren and Rocky Votolato respectively — have been posted to the blog, this one has been sitting quietly, unshared.
It was already transferred, EQ’d, track-split, and (like the Paula Perri tapeI posted previously) abandoned at the point requiring a bit of time and research: figuring out the set list and putting together the info.txt file.
It’s criminal that so low a hurdle needed to be crossed for this recording to see the light of day. The quality of the tape is fantastic. The performance is great. I’d even posted an earlier set of his, so it’s not like he was a complete unknown around these parts!