Concerts Concerts CMF 2011: Rain and Danes at Rancho Relaxo

CMF 2011: Rain and Danes at Rancho Relaxo

Alcoholic Faith Mission at Rancho Relaxo
CMF 2011: Rain and Danes at Rancho Relaxo
Lordy Lordy, Go For The Eyes, Ryan Warner, Alcoholic Faith Mission, Old Crowns
Rancho Relaxo in Toronto, ON
March 9, 2011

Review by: Allyssia Alleyne
Photos by: Amanda Fotes

Rancho Relaxo kicked off Canadian Music Fest with a mixed bag of performers that ranged from local to international. Overall the bands put on a commendable show, though the crowd was among the smallest the bar would see all the week (probably due to the rain.) Here's what you missed.

Lordy Lordy

Lordy Lordy's set was fun, even if slightly sloppy, but I am a sucker for throwback blues rock. Unfortunately, they didn’t have quite enough energy as a band to really grab and sustain the audience's attention. While vocalist Justin Myler was all head-shaking and knee-raising, the other members of the band seemed like they were only there for the ride. But this lack of energy could likely have been attributed to the lack of energy in the audience. The band's biggest hurdle seemed to be getting people to come close to the stage. Throughout the set, the small group not at the bar hovered around the edges of the dance floor, stony and unmoving throughout most of the set. Call it the curse of the first slot.

"I don’t have any spreadable diseases. They're all contained in my pants," Myler joked. There were some genuine laughs from the audience, but only a handful of people took a step closer. However, as the night went on, the audience did end up showing them a little love in the form of cat calls, whistles and applause.

The most impressive moment of the night was when the band unexpectedly changed instruments. Myler switched his guitar for a maraca, lead guitarist Justin Christie traded his guitar for a harmonica and—get this—drummer Bryan Ward played the drums and guitar at the same time. Many an "oh shit!" could be heard emanating from the audience.

This was Lordy Lordy's only show during the festival, which is a shame. Under different circumstances, they could have been great.

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Go For The Eyes

Go For The Eyes started with a bang – the kind of volume that makes the walls vibrate and bass you confuse with your heartbeat. Their pop-punk sound is chaotic and overwhelming, but yet surprisingly clean.

The entire band was committed to the performance from the first minute. Bassist Eric Svilpis was head-banging three minutes into their set. Jeff Turner (guitar, vocals) was sexuality incarnated, keeping time with his hips thrusting into his guitar. Elise Roller made playing the keyboard look like the most intense activity ever, and captured everyone’s attention when she took the mic and centre stage. Nathan Raboud was quite simply, a dynamo behind the drum kit as he ran the show from the back of the stage, rocking out with focus and stamina. The band's energy was infectious.

But after a few songs, the spell ended. The songs started blurring together, partly because the band rarely took breaks between songs and partly because the songs weren't all that different. Overall, the band did a great job, though. Try to catch them if you can, but don't expect to keep up with them.

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Ryan Warner and the Moonlight Ride

When people start cheering after tuning, perhaps the night has already gone on a bit too long.

There were definitely some cool things going on throughout this set, such as the sultry trumpet section mixed with nifty harmonies and cool chords. Ryan Warner may not be an overly gifted singer, but his voice fits the sound. The band's overall stage presence was decent and the audience reacted well; toes were tapping and heads were nodding. The previously impenetrable space between the stage and the audience was filled.

But the set just wasn't that good when considered as a whole. By the time they left the stage, I felt as though I’d been blitzkrieged. Too many instruments and sounds loudly competed for attention. Harmonies were lost, lyrics were ignored, and impressive instrumental feats went unnoticed. Every now and then something came out loud and clear, but most of the time it was indistinct noise.

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Alcoholic Faith Mission

It’s far too easy to dub Denmark-based Alcoholic Faith Mission the "Scandinavian Arcade Fire". They both have more members than your typical band; they both feature unusual instruments (AFM’s set featured a glockenspiel, a trombone, a tambourine and an accordion); and they both feature very cute, quirky women with passionate voices and a good sense of style. But that's where the comparison ends. Like Arcade Fire, AFM is unlike any other band.

The whole bar fell silent when they broke into their first song in perfect harmony. People were stunned and impressed. These are the type of musicians who remind you that music is an art form. Throughout their set, people continued to go nuts; dancing and cheering in the middle of a chorus to let the band know how much they were appreciated. When they finished, the crowd broke into prolonged applause and hollering.

The band was also ridiculously charming. At one point, a band member politely told revellers, "Please feel free to clap your hands during our music if you like. Or move your bodies in other ways."

This was Alcoholic Faith Mission's first show in Canada and they were by far the night's greatest act, bar none.

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Old Crowns

For the last set of this weeknight, lead vocalist Steve St. Pierre took to the stage in a white t-shirt, faded blue jeans and Converse All-Stars, and Old Crowns immediately came off as the everyman's band. The band performed well and the remaining audience members seemed to be enjoying themselves, but nothing stood out in their performance to strongly differentiate them from other indie four-piece alt-rock bands in Canada. This isn't to say that they didn’t sound good. St. Pierre's voice is raspy and familiar and their compositions sound very radio-friendly. Although I found myself swaying along with some of the songs, nothing stuck with me after the show. Overall, a decent and enjoyable set, but one that didn't leave me with a favourite moment to reflect on by morning.

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