November 18, 2009

Fat Cat artists The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Brakes Shine Under the Neon Palms at the Good Old El Mocambo

Fat Cat Records’ tour hit Toronto’s El Mocambo on Saturday October 10th and I was lucky enough to be there. The El Mocambo’s changed quite a bit since I played there more than 10 years ago. It looks good, and sounds good, although I personally found their sound system pushing way too much bass.

Brakes, or BrakesBrakesBrakes as they are known in the US, hit the stage first. For some reason I thought that We Were Promised Jetpacks were going to be the first band on, so while I got over my feeling that I may have missed We Were Promised Jetpacks, I got on to enjoying Brakes.

There are a couple of common elements to both Brakes and Jetpacks, so I’ll mention them up front. Both bands are tight and energetic live performers, and both bands seemed pleased as punch that people on this side of the Atlantic had heard of them, had heard their music, and had come out to see them. Brakes’ singer remarked at one point that this was the best show that they had played. The audience was attentive and enthusiastic in response to all three bands. So much for the stereotype that Toronto audiences are reserved and hard on newcomers.

Brakes played a tight set that covered all their albums – Touchdown, The Beatific Visions, and Give Blood. All are available on emusic if you’re interested, although Touchdown and their live album Rock Is Dodelijk are listed under BrakesBrakesBrakes and The Beatific Visions and Give Blood are listed under Brakes.

Highlights of the Brakes set included "Don't Take Me To Space (Man)", "Spring Chicken" and "Hey Hey". They even through in a couple of covers – of Camper van Beethoven and Johnny Cash. They played a good mix of up-beat songs and more mellow tunes, including a solo acoustic number to fill time while the electric guitar player changed a string.

Here's the video for "Don't Take Me To Space (Man)". Great song.

We Were Promised Jetpacks were up next. I gather from the increase in the number of folks right in front of the stage, these lads are better known around here than Brakes. Singer Adam Thompson has quite the powerful voice, which he demonstrated through his seeming desire to sing loud enough to be heard above the band without the need for his microphone. They hit the highlights from their album These Four Walls, which is on emusic and includes the great single "Quiet Little Voices".

Here's a video of them doing "Quiet Little Voices" from the Elmo show.

The Twilight Sad were the headliners. They thanked everyone for coming, mentioning that they’d been through town with Mogwai some months ago, and thanked their two very impressive openers and began a near-relentless pummeling of the audience’s eardrums. I had mentioned previously that I thought that this band would really shine live. They are a good live band, and I think I have more appreciation for them than I did when I walked in. On the other hand, their singer seems to like to engage the left side of the stage more than the audience, and their overall lack of dynamics becomes a bit like being hit in the head with a rubber mallet for an hour.

Songs from their latest album and a few that I knew from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters shone through the wall of noise. Overall, I’m glad I saw them, but will rush out to see Brakes and We Were Promised Jetpacks well before I’ll go out of my way to see another Twilight Sad show. In short, for a band that I thought would win me over with their live show, I enjoy them more on album.

Here are a few videos. First up is "Reflection Of The Television" which opens the new album Forget the Night Ahead and opened their show.

Then we have "I Became A Prostitute", Also from Forget the Night Ahead.

And after that, check out the acoustic version of the same song. This one is from Laundro Matinee and shows off what a great song this is. You can always tell if a song is truly great by stripping it down to acoustic guitar and vocals.

And here's "That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy" from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters.

Frank over at Chromewaves has a review and some great photos from the gig.

Photos in the post are mine.