The Phoenix in Toronto, Ontario
March 14, 2010
Review by: Jen Polk
Photos by: Jeff Jewiss
This was one of the most highly-anticipated shows of CMW for me. Born Ruffians! Parlovr! And I even didn't mind having to go to the Phoenix to see them, figuring the large venue was appropriate. But mandatory coat check and other little annoyances threatened to ruin the whole thing for me (and others). Only Born Ruffians saved this night from being a negative experience.
More on the show after the jump, plus lots of great photos of all the bands by Jeff Jewiss, who says he "was practically trampled by kids to get" them!
Montreal "sloppy pop" rockers Parlovr played four shows during CMW, more than any other band, and then went down to Austin, Texas for SXSW to play a bunch more. Recently signed to Dine Alone Records, and about to (re)release their 2008 self-titled debut album, this band is ready to explode. Sunday night had them at the Phoenix, in the first opener slot, playing on a big stage for an all-ages crowd. They brought along their signature arrow-balloon lights, incredible energy, fun stage banter, and a whole lot of great tunes. There's a rawness to their sound that grab's ones attention — in part because there's a seeming threat that it might all come crashing down. To wit, vocalist/guitarist/synth player Alex Cooper, whose face we couldn't even see through his too-long locks for most of the show, told us after the second song that he'd "never played that song so fast in my fucking life." (He later said, as if it hadn't occurred to them before, "We're gonna have to get haircuts after this.")
The band sounded pretty good at the cavernous Phoenix, but the room didn't otherwise do this band any favours. They are used to playing much smaller stages. Parlovr wasn't at all intimidated by the setup, but their energy certainly didn't fill the space, leaving me disappointed that I hadn't seen them earlier in the festival. But that's my fault. These guys have some great, exciting tunes, and here's hoping things went well for them down south. They'll be back in Toronto on 24 April, opening for We Are Wolves at the Garrison.
I'll admit to never having heard of this Hamilton band before, and although I had a beer during the break, I was still in a pretty bad mood. Young Rival hit the stage and announced that they were were "gonna play some rock music." And that is exactly what they proceeded to do. There were moments of fun, but mostly their Beatles-inspired pop rock wasn't doing it for me. Some friends in the audience told me they really liked this band, and now that I've given then another listen at home, I can see (and hear) the appeal. The three-piece, recently slimmed down from a group of four, were peppy and played well on Sunday, and the crowd seemed into them, dancing and clapping and having a good time. So let's just chalk up my initial impression to my bad mood at the show. In other words, I blame you, Phoenix.
Watch their new video (link below); it's quite cute. Young Rival release a new album on April 30th at the Horseshoe.
Oh, Born Ruffians. Could you lift my spirits? I wasn't sure it was possible, even though the band can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. When everything was set up, the girls at the front started screaming at lead man Luke Lalonde's appearance, the lights came on and the band started to play, all became well with the world. Suddenly, the Phoenix was like a proper concert theatre hosting one of my favourite bands! Thank goodness.
Lalonde, bassist Mitch Derosier, drummer Steve Hamelin, and keyboardist Andy Lloyd were all in a row, taking full advantage of the big stage and leaving no man hidden at the back. Over the course of a 13-song set and a 2-song encore, the band performed tunes off 2008's Red, Yellow & Blue, leaving the biggest crowd-pleasers to later in the set. There were a handful of new ones in the mix, too. (The band has a new album out June 1st.) The presence of Lloyd, a somewhat new addition to the band, made a difference to the band's sound, but entirely in a good way. His additional guitar lines, keyboard, or percussive elements fit in well with the band's sound. Familiar songs included "Barnacle Goose," "In A Mirror," "Hedonistic Me," "Little Garcon," "Hummingbird," "Foxes Mate For Life," "Badonkadonkey," and "I Need A Life." The first single off 2010's upcoming Say It, "Sole Brother," was performed, plus 6 other news ones by my count. I heard a few hits, for sure. There were some great 4-part harmonies, big finishes, and lots of energy. Lalonde's voice only gets better and better. Derosier's importance to this band was made plain once again. In addition to providing bass and backing vocals, his on-stage role is key. This would be a much less fun band to watch without him. A fantastic set.
Then all 850 or so of us had to line up to retrieve our coats and bags. So, Phoenix, I don't forgive you, but you didn't manage to ruin my night.