Amos The Transparent, The Darcys, Kalle Mattson, Xylos
March 10, 2011
Review by: Allyssia Alleyne
Photos by: Pete Nema
The second night of Canadian Music Fest took us from the heart of downtown to darkest of Queen West and back again, all in the hunt for good music and solid performers. Here’s what we found in our cross-city adventure.
Amos The Transparent @ El Mocambo
Amos the Transparent delivered an energetic and engaging performance, ripe with theatricality. Their dramatic harmonies and groove-rock style can feel like something out of a musical, which worked well with the kitschy disco ball and heavy red drapes that adorned the El Mocambo stage.
Band members constantly played off each other’s energy. Even when they didn't have the mic, band members sang along with lead vocalist, Jonathan Chandler, making the sound fuller and the performance more interesting. Though Joanthan is often the focus of individual songs, every band member gets his or her moment in the spotlight through a variety of musical mechanisms.
The fans really seemed to dig the show overall, and started singing along as a group during the last song like an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan might do in the shower.
The Darcys @ The Silver Dollar
People were already pressed up against the stage by the time The Darcys started setting up. It was obvious a lot of people came to The Silver Dollar just to see them.
They rushed through their set up and managed to start only slightly late. They made up for the delay with a great performance. Although the first song was rough and drowned out by feedback, they were clean from the second song on. They seemed in-tune with themselves and each other, both musically and physically, especially when they somehow managed to abruptly end each song together (more easily said than done).
The music makes you want to dance, but the audience seemed content with bobbing their heads in time, as though hypnotized. I would say the band was looking down on a crowd of zombies, but I doubt they were actually paying attention to it, choosing instead to invest all of their attention into the performance. Their movements were half way between a seizure and a demonic possession. To put it simply, they were fucking intense.
Kalle Mattson @ Mitzi's Sister
Mitzi's Sister is not your typical show venue. For one, people are actually eating and having conversations. The stage is tiny, just barely big enough to accommodate the four-piece band from Saulte Ste. Marie, with no space to crowd around it. When the band starts to play, some look up from their chicken wings, and others turn from the bar to see where the music is coming from. A little blonde kid stands in the middle of an aisle, apparently enraptured by what's coming from the stage.
They played a clean set of mostly upbeat, groove-focused songs. Lead singer Kalle Waino's voice is sweet and simple, but never boring. They played hard and fast, but then slowed it down. Both seemed to work and distinguished them from other generic folk-rock bands.
"It's a concert, this is a communal experience and we're all gonna have a good time tonight," says Wiano. And it looks like that's what was happening. When Wiano politely asks the audience to clap along, they do, won over by his adorableness and proving that manners are at least as important as your parents told you they were.
Xylos @ Hard Rock Cafe
Right from the start, Xylos had two things working against them. One, they were from Brooklyn and this was their first time playing in Toronto. Two, they started their set at nine on the dot. Both conditions made for a pitiful turn out.
Their sound is indie-pop with an edge, the lovechild of Feist and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. You can imagine them being featured in an Apple commercial, on a show like Gossip Girl, or in your head when the weather warms up. Some songs were boring and derivative, while others were catchy. They saved their best pieces for the end but, unfortunately, most people in the venue had lost interest by then.
The lead singer had a workable voice that transitioned easily from cutesy to soulful (though it only really shines when she and the keyboardist are singing together), but overall the performance was lack lustre. There was no real banter between band members, and very little interaction between the few members and the audience. But to be fair, most of the crowd was sober and huddled around the bar.