Concerts Concerts Braids Go Big at the Horseshoe

Braids Go Big at the Horseshoe

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Braids at Horseshoe Tavern
Braids
Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON
October 14, 2011

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Michelle Cortese

A full house finds out that the art-rock four-piece deserves the hype.

2011 has been a big year for Calgary's Braids. With their debut LP Native Speaker short-listed for this year's Polaris Prize, the experimental indie act has earned loads of acclaim that's made their fan-base swell in a big way, with no shortage showing up for their most recent visit to Toronto.

For their night in the spotlight, it was a little surprising to see how little time that the young group ended up spending interacting with the audience. When push came to shove, though, it was probably for the best. With music so ambient and other-worldly, heavy banter from the stage could very well have detracted from the immersion of the experience. 

And Braids' work is definitively immersive. Complex, layered, and warm, their pieces have a way of cocooning, but never stifling. And while theirs is music that'll likely never become completely mainstream, they maintain a certain accessibility in their experimentation that allows their group of supporters to be a lot broader than many of their contemporaries'. 

On stage, as well, Braids keep their music palatable — a task that's often tricky under the weight of so much synth work and distortion that's constantly begging to be taken over the top. But the group kept the reigns taught and hit each tune in their set spot-on. Live workings of the brilliant recordings "Glass Deers" and "Lemonade" were just as stunning coming from the stage, finding their way to the ears of an audience that became too completely engrossed to dance. From the roots of the complicated drum work to the flourishing instrumentals and the surprisingly strong vocals and clean harmonies, Braids gave a great demonstration of exactly why they'll never end up playing for an empty room.

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