Conduits @ Mohawk Palace

Conduits @ Mohawk Place
Conduits @ Mohawk Place

. : : March 20thth, 2012 : : .

 

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.

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Beams @ Bell Media Studios

Beams @ Bell Media Studios
Beams @ Bell Media Studios

. : :January 17th, 2015 : : .

 

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.

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Nicole Atkins @ Late Show with David Letterman

Nicole Atkins @ Late Show with David Letterman
Nicole Atkins @ Late Show with David Letterman

. : : January 9th, 2015 : : .
 

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.

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Paula Perri @ Drake Underground

Paula Perri @ Drake Underground
Paula Perri @ Drake Underground

. : : May 10th, 2012 : : .

 

I regret that this Paula Perri recording hasn’t seen the light of day in almost a decade.

 

It was recorded May of 2012, in a busy mid-month week packed with a handful of other Hater-High favourites (including Rocky Votolato and Amelia Curran), opening for Pearl and the Beard at what is in my estimation the best sounding venue in town: the Drake Underground.

 

But as a sapling among the tall trees, this tape was left to dry out. It was EQ’d and tracked, but abandoned somewhere between encoding to FLAC and creating a text file.

 

Listening back now, I’m glad I didn’t put it out as it was. The original EQ pass I did was thin, brittle, and doesn’t do Paula’s performance justice. This new version is more balanced, with the bottom-end brought up significantly to balance out the lack of bass in the performance.

 

Unfortunately, I’m a day late and a buck short. In the nine years that have passed, Paula transitioned from a promising performing career with an ardent fan base to a booking manager, event programmer, promoter, professor and VP of an event planning firm.

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The Elwins @ El Mocamobo

The Elwins @ El Mocambo
The Elwins @ El Mocambo

. : : December 10th, 2011 : : .

 

The Elwins may have been the hardest working band in Toronto.

 

For a hot moment, it seemed like I couldn’t shake a stick without it getting tangled in the band’s gear. They were perpetually performing opening slots for a variety of artists I’d trek out to see across the city in all kinds of venues, for artists big and small.

 

Somehow, although it seemed like I was accidentally catching their act every couple of months, I only ended up with one recording in my archive that has hitherto never seen the light of day.

 

At the time of this performance, the band had two EPs to their name but have since padded their resume with an additional EP, 10 singles, and four LPs. Coupled with constant touring with the likes of Dashboard Confessional and the Fast Romantics, you can see why I’d bestow them the title “Hardest Working.”

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So Many Dynamos @ KEXP Studios

So Many Dynamos @ KEXP
So Many Dynamos @ KEXP

. : : October 22nd, 2006 : : .

 

I’m still trying to get through the backlog of unreleased or lost tapes I have, and it stretches pretty far back.

 

The good news is, it’s been a great way to rediscover fantastic music that may have fallen by the wayside in recent years.

 

Take for example, So Many Dynamos: my favourite dance-punk band who’s barely made a peep in the last seven years. They seem to still be active, but barely; their Facebook has a single post from May 2020, and nothing since or before until you scroll to July 2017.

 

Although it’s not my usual taste in musical genres, their 2006 album Flashlights (oh my god, it’s been 15-years!?) was an instant hit for me. I shared it with friends, shouted it from rooftops, and played it endlessly.

 

I even scoured KEXP Radio’s now sadly defunct lossless radio archive and captured this excellent performance the band put on in their studio shortly after the album’s release.

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Nicole Atkins @ Public Square Park

Nicole Atkins @ Public Square Park
Nicole Atkins @ Public Square Park

. : :September 5th, 2020 : : .

 

Nicole Atkins‘ fifth album, Italian Ice, was released just shy of a year ago. The world was a different place then. Sure, COVID-19 was a thing, but it was still on it’s first escalation. Musical artists were struggling with whether to postpone albums and upcoming summer tour dates amid the uncertainty and, artistically speaking, we were at a comparative standstill.

 

Unable to keep the LP under wraps, Nicole proceeded with the album’s release, and promoted it with radio appearances and a weekly streamed “porch performance” from her home, featuring a variety of musical guests.

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Nicole Atkins @ BBC Television Centre

Nicole Atkins @ Later...With Jools Holland
Nicole Atkins @ Later…With Jools Holland

. : :September 16th, 2008 : : .

 

Combing through Ye Olde Archives of Tapes Unreleased to upload, I came across not only the previously posted early Nicole Atkins & The Sea recording I made from the band’s performance at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, but also a capture I made of her performance on the BBC’s legendary Later… With Jools Holland.

 

I grabbed this from a rerun around 2012, but it’s original air date is from September 2008. I couldn’t get concrete details on the filming data, but it’s presumably in that vicinity.

 

Unlike my personal recording, this one is professional and sounds fantastic. Nicole performs two of the most accessible, powerful songs off her celebrated debut album. This would probably be a much better introduction to the band, and I should’ve posted it first. Oh, well. Live and learn, I guess!

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Nicole Atkins @ Lee’s Palace

Nicole Atkins @ Lee's Palace
Nicole Atkins @ Lee’s Palace

. : : February 17th, 2008 : : .
 
There was something I loved about British girl-group, the Pipettes, that defied all logic.
 
I mean, they were the product of everything I hated about those late 90-s girl-groups (and boy-bands); contrived, manufactured, and reliant on that grrl-powered gimmick that the Spice Girls perfected a decade earlier.
 
Maybe it was the nostalgic 60s sound and matching costumes, or the infectiously cotton-candy sweet songs, but I just couldn’t get enough of them, and was thrilled to catch them performing at Lee’s Palace.
 
I knew nothing of opening band Nicole Atkins and the Sea, and it was a clever (but risk-taking) promoter who teamed her up with the Pipettes. While the Pipettes were sugar-coated, 60’s pop throwback with two-and-a-half minute, hook-filled pop songs, Nicole Atkins was orchestral-infused rock-teetering-on-punk with a voice so powerful it barely needed a microphone to be heard at the back of the venue.

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Dwayne Gretzky @ Private Rehearsal Studio

Dwayne Gretzky's New Years Eve
Dwayne Gretzky’s New Years Eve

. : : December 31st, 2020 : : .

 

Going to concerts in my twenties and going to concerts in my thirties have proven to be very different experiences.

 

In my twenties, I could quite literally go online, check out the line-up at a few of my favourite venues for the evening, and just choose to go out and see a performance impulsively.

 

In my thirties, it’s a whole other affair. I have to arrange sitters for my kids, schedule work around the evening, worry about back up plans if the sitter bails last minute, etc.

 

Whereas ten years ago, my only punishment was a mild level of sleep deprivation at work the following day, I now find that I’m yawning before the opening band even takes the stage and it can be a week following before I’m back to a normal sleeping schedule.

 

All of this is compounded for event concerts. Forget about travelling out of town or multi-day festivals: what do you think it’s like to get a reliable, trust-worthy sitter on New Years Eve in suburban Toronto?

 

Needless to say, although it’s been on my wish list since inception, I’ve never been able to make it out to Dwayne Gretzky‘s celebrated New Years Eve shows.

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