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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Dave Hause @ Lee’s Palace

Dave Hause
Dave Hause @ Lee’s Palace

. : : July 17th, 2015 : : .

 

Sometimes I don’t know what I was thinking.

 

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!

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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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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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Whitehorse @ Six Shooter Records

Whitehorse
Whitehorse @ Six Shooter Records

. : : December 4th, 2020 : : .

 

I’m not going to preface this particular entry with too much context on COVID-19, 2020, and live music. I ranted and raved about it in excess on my previous post.

 

I will take a minute to talk about Whitehorse, a band many visitors to this blog are now well acquainted with, and give some context on their 2020 (if you would be so kind as to indulge me).

 

Whitehorse is a husband and wife musical duo with decades long resumes that cover the gauntlet and have taken them around the world. Their talent is immeasurable, and their success remarkable — but not incalculable.

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Hannah Georgas @ SiriusXM

Hannah Georgas

. : : July 18th, 2020 : : .

 

2020 was … unusual.

 

Gripped by a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, relegated to stay-at-home orders and curfews, live concerts stopped being a thing. At least, in the typical sense of the phrase.

 

Pivoting to engage fanbases, generate income, and continue to spark creative drive, musicians began to take up live-streaming performances en masse. Like many live performances, the quality varied.

 

Usually, things like the venue, PA system, and sound person on duty were deciding factors on sound and visuals, but now it was the artists’ home studio set-up, internet upload speed, and network congestion. And to say it’s been a learning curve for everyone would be putting it somewhat mildly. However, as the year wore on, the quality by and large improved.

 

The new challenge arising as 2020 came to a close was not how much will I enjoy this live stream, and turned more toward how many live streams can I enjoy?

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The Autumn Portrait @ Cameron House

The Autumn Portrait
The Autumn Portrait @ Cameron House

. : : July 4th, 2012 : : .

Revisiting concerts from the better part of a decade ago has definitely proven to be an exercise in understanding just how poor my memory is.

I can’t say I remember a ton about this particular set from The Autumn Portrait. I do remember the songs being somewhat pretty, the band fighting to be heard over the nosier band performing in the next room, and a radio personality from the local classic rock radio station being in attendance.

Listening back almost eight and a half years later, it’s like I’m experiencing it again for the first time. The feeling is odd: the band is now defunct, but frontman Freddit Mojallal is still going at it, under the moniker Freddie Future.

Of course, with a name like Freddie Future and a former band name like The Autumn Portrait, you can probably get a pretty good idea of stylistic differences you might expect.

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Noel Johnson @ Cameron House

Noel Johnson
Noel Johnson @ Cameron House

. : : July 4th, 2012 : : .

I recorded Noel Johnson‘s mid-lineup set, book-ended by Colleen Brown and the Autumn Portrait, at the Cameron House backroom on a 4th of July evening back in 2012.

My memories of the night have faded with age, but I have lingering impressions of a solid night of music performed to an almost-entirely empty room.

I also remember being impressed with the sound and wondering why I hadn’t been to the well-known Cameron House before. Well, I haven’t been since either, but listening back to the recording while doing this write-up provides a compelling reason why I should (y’know, once going to live concerts is a thing that people can do again)!

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