I feel like a bit of concert karma has smacked me upside the head. After all my recent critiques about two opening act concerts, the time I want to see both I arrive so late that I only see the headliner. So it was when I went to my most recent show. Lesson learned.
Actually two lessons. I have a better idea of time for multiple trips and that Sound Academy is farther from the subway then I think. So as such, I can’t really give much comment on the openers performance live. They’re also somewhat new to me, in general.
Vactioner was the first up. They are so new to me that I’d only discovered them, in fact, when I reviewed the concert listing on Songkick. I gave their album a listen when I got home from work (perhaps part of the reason I was so late?) and immediately enjoyed it. They’ve kinda got a sound like Tennis, Washed Out, and Vampire Weekend all mashed up, which is totally my sound these days. Except when it’s a low-fi guitar pop with female lead vocals.
Next up, so schedules lead me to believe, was Now, Now. Another newish find from me via Mojgan’s Rdio. In truth, they were the band I was most looking forward to. I think I arrived just as they were finishing up, as there were roadies starting on a tear down. I’d initially thought that I’d just missed Vactioner but, when the Naked and Famous took the stage, I sadly acknowledged the mistake.
I did run into someone from school, the first time that I’d run into anyone at a show in Toronto. A friend of hers said they were good, and I’ll probably try and catch them the next time they’re in town. Here’s a stripped down version of the title track from their Neighbors EP.
Finally, it was time for the Naked and Famous. When they took the stage, I heard Mike’s voice in my declare, “My skinny jeans are in the wash!” Which may just explain all my concert crotchetiness lately, hmmm. Certainly they’re a bit of a buzz band, as it seemed a number of people awaiting them to start asked things like, “They’re from New Zealand, right?!”
Overall, I liked the show. Some of the songs seemed poorly crafted, though too be expected by such a young group that has an art house-indie rock pedigree where style is as important as substance. You could see the Franz Ferdinand influence but some of their hooks a la new wave-electronica New Order were a bit flat. At times there seems to be some challenges integrating the lead vocals from Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith. But when the elements did come together, they are catchy and manage a decent elctro-pop with hint of ’80s post-punk.
Matt Kirkey put “Young Blood” from their debut studio album, Passive Me, Aggressive You on his PDP11.5 mix, Separation Anxiety and that was certainly the song that stood out for me.
I think this time out also really cemented my feeling that Sound Academy is Toronto’s Commodore Ballroom. (Where the Naked and Famous are playing at the end of the month.) This is based on the types of shows I’ve seen there so far, certainly the Commodore is a nicer looking establishment. I also think it has nicer site lines throughout. But perhaps I’m just a homer…