Surfer Blood from West Palm Beach, Florida have a whole ton of influences all wrapped up in their catchy alternative rock / power pop style. There's plenty of loud guitars, with rhythmic shifts, pop melodic hooks and I swear I heard shades of Boston in a few of the guitar harmonies. Overall, the band presented a very pleasing music package to their Toronto audience at The Drake Underground last Sunday night, November 22. To answer the band's question, no, the hotel is in no way, shape or form named after the Canadian hip-hop basketball mascot. I wonder if they got to stay in the hotel for the night?
They played a solid set featuring songs from Astro Coast, Tarot Classics EP, Pythons and their most recent release, 1000 Palms. This gig marked their new bassist Lindsey Mills' first trip to Canada. Hope she had fun. There was a point in the gig when singer John Paul Pitts gave a shout out to original guitarist Thomas Fekete who had to leave the band to fight cancer. All the best to him and his struggles with his health and the American health care system. And if you're a guitar player, practice up and you may get a chance to take the stage and borrow Pitts' guitar for some soloing.
Check out some of the highlight tunes from their setlist.
Ron Hawkins has written a couple of new Lowest of the Low songs and recorded them with David Alexander, Brian MacMillan, Lawrence Nichols and Dylan Parker. They're solid tunes called "The Kids Are All Wrong" and "In The Blink of An Eye" that will fit into the Low setlist just fine. I will truly never get tired of Ron's songs.
They've also announced a few Ontario gigs. They're in the pic above and text below. Check 'em out, although the Collective Concerts website shows The Horseshoe show as sold out.
December 4 in Toronto at The Horseshoe Tavern
December 5 in Hamilton at This Ain't Hollywood
December 10 in Waterloo at The Starlight Social Club
December 11 in Peterborough at The Red Dog Tavern
December 12 in Barrie at Roxy Sideroom
Chvrches are absolutely one of the best bands crafting pop music today and one of my favourite bands. Their songs are incredible, their live show is amazing, and they truly seem like cool people. If you're looking for some evidence of their live show mastery, check out my pics from their Danforth Music Hall show.
Their most recent album Every Open Eye is certainly one of the best albums of 2015. They've just released a video for the primo tune "Empty Threat". Watch kids in all-black do what they do and listen to this great tune.
As 4AD's web site puts it, "El Vy (pronounced like a plural of Elvis; rhymes with ‘hell pie’) is the musical collaboration between Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist of The National, and Brent Knopf, the Portland musician and producer best known for his work in Menomena and his more recent band, Ramona Falls." They released their album Return to the Moon earlier this year and indie alternative radio has been playing the heck out of the title track. It even graced these pages.
The band sounded great and the light show was very cool and unique for a venue of this size. After a while, there can be a tendency to walk into a venue with expectations of what you're going to see in terms of things like a light show, and it's awesome when an act can bring something unique that makes the show and the resulting pics special.
The show was super sold out and I was lucky to have arrived early to get a good spot. Moving around was near impossible and a friend who came late couldn't get to the front. This shouldn't have been a surprise because getting to see a performer like Matt in a club this size at this point in his career, even for a side project show, was something special. At the end of the set, Matt acknowledged what we all knew, they only have so many songs and there wasn't going to be an encore, so enjoy this one - it's the last tune.
Nada Surf came through Toronto on a very short tour in advance of a new album coming out in 2016. They hit up Washington, D.C., New York City and Toronto on this short jaunt and they'll take some time off between now and the new album's release. I've been a Nada Surf fan for years and years, and was happy to be able to catch them live for the first time.
They played a solid set of alternative / power pop tunes including a few of my favourites. They included tunes from their upcoming album and surprised by putting "Popular" into their encore. Their closing tune "Blankest Year", which includes the refrain "Oh fuck it, I'm going to have a party", was poignant given the setting and recent terrorist actions at a show not dissimilar to this one, as was another encore tune "Always Love" with the lyrics "always love, hate will get you every time". This was my first show after that horrible night at the Bataclan in Paris. It's going to be a while before bands, bar staff and show attendees shake the feeling that something terrible could happen at any moment. Enjoy life. You never know when it will end. Fuck it. Have a party. And always love one another.
During the encore, Matthew Caws responded to a request by saying that they weren't going to play that one but that since they hadn't played here in a while and because many folks may have travelled a good distance to be at their Monday night show, he would play some tunes on acoustic after the merch table meet and greet. I couldn't stay but I'd love to hear from anyone who did.
Nada Surf's most recent studio album was 2012's The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy and they released a live album in August of a March 2012 show Live at the Neptune Theatre.
Some amazing tunes from Nada Surf's Horseshoe setlist:
"Clear Eye Clouded Mind"
"What Is Your Secret?"
"Jules And Jim"
I mentioned above that they only played some of my favourites. What other songs would I have liked them to play? So glad you asked.