The Phoenix in Toronto, ON
March 28, 2014
Review by: Rick Miller
Photos by: Daniel Pascucci
The sing-along indie folk featured bouncy bass lines, knee slapping drum beats, and shredding guitar.
Boy & Bear
The Australian 5 piece Boy & Bear took over the stage for their headlining set, offering up excerpts from their two album discography. Guitarist Killian Gavin was phenomenal, displaying his chops at every turn. He would take every opportunity to crush a solo at sometimes seemingly inappropriate moments. Their transition work was exceptional, showing the versatility of the musicians and creativity of the writing, with music well tailored to a Mumford and Sons kind of crowd. This appeal undoubtedly led to the show selling out the Phoenix, and this is clearly a band that has profited by assimilation and the Internet machine. Since much of their following is Australian-based and this was their first Toronto show, it is impressive to say the least. Front man Dave Hosking stated this has been the biggest crowd he’s performed to on the North American tour - they were supposed to play the Garrison for Christ sakes!
To their credit, these guys put on a hell of show, absolutely filling the room with their blend of non-threatening folksy jams. A lot of their songs would make for great cruising music as the songs flowed effortlessly with driving bass lines and jangly guitars. Dave has a voice that could captivate any crowd. They were no one-trick pony, transitioning from fast paced off tempo anthems to slow melodic ballads. The slower songs were by far the best part of the set. However, the impatient crowd could not keep the chatter to a dull roar as they waited for the next Mumfordesque 6/8 sing-along. They were not disappointed on this night.
The night started with opener Dresses offering up some catchy, three chord indie pop. The Portland, Oregon based 4 piece played their first Toronto gig to a very warm, almost capacity room, sounding like a poppier version of Of Monsters and Men. Unfortunately, they appeared to almost resent the music they played, moving through each song like they were being dragged through some boring field. Let this be a lesson for up and coming bands: if you look like you are enjoying it, other people might enjoy it too. On this night, Dresses offered no stage presence and put on a mostly forgettable show.