Tusks, Lisa Bozikovic
Lee's Palace in Toronto, Ontario
June 11, 2010
Review by: Jen Polk
Photos by: Pete Nema
The Acorn, who made such an impression on me back in 2008, and whose 2007 album I've listened to as much as any in recent memory, came back to Lee's Palace last Friday night to celebrate the launch of their new offering. Their friends Tusks and Lisa Bozikovic opened up the night.
I love The Acorn to pieces. The band, now a 5-piece including Rolf Klausener (lead vocals, guitar), Jeff DeButte (vocals, guitar), Steve Lappano (bass), Pat Johnson (percussion), and Jeffrey Malecki (percussion), put on a great show. The set was full of new songs — 9 by my count, as well as older favourites from Glory Hope Mountain and 2006's Tin Fist. The band members weren't much for banter Friday night, though Klausener spent some time asking audience members about the Arcade Fire show earlier in the evening, and happy birthdays were wished to several people in the crowd.
The band's lineup has changed since I last saw the group, and the song's live arrangements different slightly too. But the double-drum kit setup was still in effect, bringing some extra excitement to the band's folk-rock tunes. My favourites included "Crooked Legs," "The Restoration," the sexy "Misplaced," "Brokered Heart," "Bobcat Goldwraith," "No Ghost," and "Low Gravity," which ended the main set. Though I (and others) have only had a little time to get to know the new album, the relatively unfamiliar songs held up well alongside the familiar ones. The band's arrangements are complex and yet don't clutter the songs. It's an impressive feat. And so was the encore, which highlighted the band's multiple strengths: from the quietly beautiful "Slippery When Wet" from No Ghost, to the celebratory "The Flood Pt. 1" (Hope Glory Mountain), and ending with the more understated folk rock tune "Kindling to Cremation," the final song on the new album.
The Acorn put on a great show and was impressed with how much I enjoyed some of the band's new songs. I'll be seeing you again, guys!
Tusks caught the attention of members of the audience much more than the first opener seemed to. These guys — Samir Khan (vocals, bass), Shaw-han Liem (keys), Jordan Howard (guitar), and Steven McKay (percussion) — performed music that fit in well with the energy of the show. My favourite tune was their contribution to the 2009 Bellwoods compilation. "New to Old Money" is just so darn catchy and pretty at the same time. The rest of the set was a bit more rocking. All told the band played an impressive set, and have now definitely earned my respect.
Tusks play next at the Horseshoe Tavern on June 25th, opening for Jim Guthrie, who was in the audience at Lee's Palace, and also playing alongside Minotaurs and Steven McKay. (All these bands share members)
The night's first opener was local songstress Lisa Bozikovic. She was backed by an impressive group of musicians, including Ohbijou's Jamie Bunton (percussion), Anissa Hart (cello), and Heather Kirby (bass), plus Tyler Belluz (upright bass, Kite Hill), Gabe Levine (clarinet), and vocal help from Sylvie Smith (The Magic) and Jessica Moore. The band performed songs off Bozikovic's 2009 album, Lost August.
Bozikovic is not as well known as she might be. She has many friends in the Toronto music community, but at a bigger show like this, where few in the audience likely knew of her beforehand, she had a tough job ahead of her. I was happy to hear songs like "New City" and "Take And Take" — the ones of hers I'm most familiar with — but the relatively sparse numbers of people in the audience did not seem particularly won over. As for me, I was reminded of what a great voice Bozikovic has, and I look forward to catching her perform in more intimate settings.