Concerts Concerts NXNE 2010: Going For The Amos The Transparent Hat Trick

NXNE 2010: Going For The Amos The Transparent Hat Trick

Amos The Transparent at The Gladstone
Amos The Transparent
Toronto, Ontario
June 17-19, 2010

Review by: Pete Nema, Jen Polk
Photos by: Pete Nema

You know when you find that band? It's the band that puts together a show that is pretty much exactly what you're looking for and leaves you wanting more. What if... what if it turned out that band was playing the very next night, once again on the following night, and then one more time the night after? Would you plan on going to see them all three times? Probably not, and I certainly didn't make plans to do so. It just sort of happened.

When I sit down to work out a schedule for NXNE, it is always filled with conflicts. I know and like Amos The Transparent, and knew they were going to be here for a number of shows, but I honestly wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it to any of them. After some schedule reorganization and adjustments, I decided the show for me was going to be their 2:00am set at The Gladstone on the Thursday of NXNE. That would be the one. I would say hello to the band, get to see them perform the music I love, and then continue through the rest of the week without seeing them again.

But you already know it didn't turn out like that.

Amos The Transparent @ The Gladstone, Thursday, 2:00am

With Kate Cooke (backup vocals) on vacation during NXNE, Amos The Transparent was short-handed on stage Thursday night. A number of their compositions almost depend on having strong female vocals, but amazingly Mark Hyne (keyboards, guitar, vocals) did a decent job of singing the parts as needed. But between the fairly horrible sound in The Gladstone, and a performance that didn't quite meet the super high expectations I had (in all fairness, it was a 2:00am set on a weeknight), I just didn't quite feel satisfied. I love this band's music, and I especially love hearing it played live. I just didn't leave with the feeling I was looking for. I wanted more.

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Amos The Transparent @ Hard Rock, Friday, 11:00pm

For the Friday of NXNE, my plan was initially pretty solid, but then I was invited to the Hot Hot Heat show at Red Bull HQ and my plans were adjusted. The adjusted plan included Hot Hot Heat with the hope to have enough time to run up to The Piston to see Vacuity (a band who I listen to regularly, but seem unable to catch on stage very often). However, with the Hot Hot Heat set starting a little late, and then the Queen West blackout, my timing got thrown off and I didn't manage to leave in time for The Piston. I was still close to Yonge-Dundas Square, so I headed back that direction to see Sloan wrap up their performance. And since the Hard Rock is right there and Amos The Transparent was due up at 11:00pm, it just seemed like a good idea.

And it really was. For quite a few reasons. The first being that when I walked into the place, a friend told me the bar was open, and sure enough it was, courtesy of Live 88.5 FM. But secondly, it was because Amos The Transparent put out in the way I wanted them to the night before. For the show at the Hard Rock, Carleigh Aikins from Fox Jaws was there to sing backup, and wow did she ever sound great. The band themselves were as on as on can get, and the crowd was singing along and cheering through a good portion of the show. The song "Greater Than Consequence" has turned into a bit of an anthem, with friends jumping up on stage to sing out the final lyrics with the band. It's a nice song in the recorded format, but it really comes alive in a big way on stage. Excellent crowd, surprisingly great sound, amazing performance. Awesome set!

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Going For The "Amos The Transparent Hat Trick"

So it's Saturday and I make it back from the Toronto Island Concert in time to see The Details at C'est What. It was an amazing set from a great independent band, and it kept my Pavement buzz going strong. Genevieve Lui from The Take Media was there too, and afterward she told me that The Darcys were going to be playing a 1:00am set at the Rancho Relaxo and suggested I come along. I put up minimal resistance before giving in, and was so glad I went (brilliant set from The Darcys, but no photos from me, I was just there having a great time).

There I was, up at College and Spadina, and it was almost 2:00am. To get home, I had no choice but to pass very close to the Rivoli, and so... it happened. I went to see Amos The Transparent for the third time in as many nights — what I decided to call the Amos The Transparent Hat Trick. For this show they were once again in slightly different configuration. Another incredibly satisfying show! I didn't take photos, but had such an amazing time. Jen Polk was also there, and below is her review of the show.

Amos The Transparent @ Rivoli, Saturday, 2:00am

[Jen Polk] Amos The Transparent played 4 times over the weekend, and this late Saturday night (early Sunday morning) one was their last. And though there was only a handful of fans watching and dancing when I arrived at the Rivoli at 2:03am, that's not bad for one song in! As the set progressed, more and more people filled in and moved up to the stage. Pretty soon there were a few dozen of people around me, seemingly all singing along to each and every song the band played. And I found myself doing the same.

For this last gig, the band was down to a five-piece, including Carleigh Aikins from Fox Jaws subbing in for vocalist Kate Cooke, and guitarist/keyboardist Mark Hyne was absent (he had to leave the festival early, his partner was pregnant and due on Monday). The changes meant the songs performed sounded different than they do on the band's recordings. This, though, is always a feature of Amos's live shows. Things never sound exactly the same, yet each time the arrangements seem spot on. That, and band members' infectious energy, make this group great fun to watch. But Torontonians always do much more than watch Amos play. During "Greater than Consequence," Hyne's song sung on this night by lead songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Jonathan Chandler, half the audience jumped up on stage to sing the chorus. It was quite the moment, and looked like a spontaneous, celebratory move on the part of an elated group of fans (including Pete Nema, I'll have you know). And then, after the band left the stage and the house lights were turned on, we got ourselves a two-song encore. Chants of "Amos! Amos! Amos!" are hard to ignore.

The band is hoping to head to the studio in the fall to record a full-length of more of their catchy, down-to-earth, folk-tinged pop-rock songs. Based on the new tunes I heard ("Catch and Release," for one), here's hoping the band gets to recording and mixing and mastering and pressing and distributing and touring as soon as they can!

Oh, and Hyne's a dad now.