I'm gonna confess up front that Die Antwoord is not exactly the kind of music I gravitate to. I certainly appreciate what they do and the commitment that they do it with. After seeing them live and spending some time with their music, I can say that this is a band to be appreciated live. Their tunes have some great underlying hooks and the unrelenting bass and volume of the live show take it up and up and up. Those in attendance at Toronto's Riot Fest definitely got the full Die Antwoord experience.
My notes from the show were simple: "Crazy". Would I see them again? You bet.
Here are my pics and a few tracks from their setlist.
The Xcerts are an alternative rock band from Scotland. I wrote a post about my appreciation for them back in 2013. They've got a new album called There Is Only You coming out November 3. Check out some of the tunes from the new album, starting with "Pop Song" which challenges you to name all the bands that they impersonate. Very cool tunes.
The Head and the Heart are a country tinged indie folk band from Seattle. They were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd on Day 2 of Toronto's Riot Fest. Singer Josiah Johnson likes to get up close and personal with his fans, jumping down to enter the crowd on a couple of occasions.
Royal Blood appeared before a sold out crowd at Toronto's Lee's Palace on October 14. I was lucky enough to be there, camera in tow. This band is going to be huge and everyone in attendance at this show is going to have bragging rights on seeing this Mercury Prize nominated band "back when".
And they proved why they are getting so huge so fast. The two of them make a massive noise. The secret sauce to their sound lies in the basses and the effects. Different basses were used for different songs and at least some were strung differently to hit the notes that the songs required. The pedal board is the other secret - so much so that photographers were banned from taking pictures of it. Suffice it to say that there's a lot of octave/pitch shifting/layering going on. And there's that pile of amps in back.
Of course, bass sounds alone do not make a band. The relentless pounding of Ben Thatcher's drums and, of course, the songs and singer Mike Kerr's vocals, make this band something special. Given that they only have the one album, the set was relatively short, but everyone left satisfied. They even included the live début of "Careless". Here are some tunes from their setlist.
They opened with "Hole" from their début EP.
"Come on Over"
"Figure It Out"
"Ten Tonne Skeleton"
Of course, they saved their huge breakout tune "Out of the Black" for the set closer.
I love The New Pornographers. Their 2005 release Twin Cinema became an instant classic for me - one of my all time favourite albums. As I reached back in their catalog and kept up to date with their new releases, my enthusiasm for the band continued.
I didn't get to see them live until last summer's CNE when they played at the Bandshell. They were worth the wait and I counted the moments until I was able to see them again - at this summer's Toronto Riot Fest on Day 2.
From the moment they hit the stage to the power pop masterpiece and title track from Brill Bruisers, until they closed with "Testament to Youth in Verse", I was in ecstasy. They were tight and enthusiastic and played a great set. I love the fact that they reached all the way from their début to their latest release in a short festival set. If I could have wished for one thing, it would have been for Neko Case to appear with TNP at Riot Fest. And I still don't really know why it bothers me so much that Dan Bejar only graces the stage with his presence for his own songs, but it just does. Get in or get out, I say.
Sadly, this was one of the band's last shows with Kurt Dahle on drums. He decided to leave TNP after 15 years behind the kit and appearing on all their albums. All the best to him and the band as they move forward.
Here are my personal favourites from their Riot Fest set. Does anyone else find it a bit strange that they didn't play anything from Twin Cinemas?
They opened the show with the title track from their latest release, Brill Bruisers. This version of "Brill Bruisers" from Letterman gave me shivers. What a full and powerful sound this band creates.
"Dancehall Domine" is another power pop gem from Brill Bruisers. I love the saturated sound that TNP have cultivated for this album. Those drums are literally bursting from the speakers.
"Moves" from 2010's Together
"The Laws Havc Changed" from 2003's Electric Version
"Mass Romantic" from the 2000 album of the same name
When I first wrote about The History of Apple Pie in February of 2013, I described their music as "pretty, cute indie pop with buzzy guitars". That description still holds. They've recently released a new album called Feel Something.
I got to see Augustines at The Garrison on October 8. In a very short period of time, Augustines has become one of my favourite bands. Their live performance only served to cement this opinion.
This is the type of band that shines on stage. These are the kinds of anthemic and passionate songs that shine when performed live. You can see the intensity on singer/guitarist Billy McCarthy's face. You can see the sweat bead on his forehead. Multi-instrumentalist Eric Sanderson and drummer Rob Allen give it their all, too. This is a band leaving it all on stage, night after night, winning fans over one by one.
The band's set included songs from their recent self-titled release, their 2011 release Rise Ye Sunken Ships under the name We Are Augustines and even included tunes from McCarthy and Sanderson's previous band Pela.
As often happens at Augustines shows, they performed a few tunes unamplified in the middle of the crowd. I don't know how often the next thing happens, but they then spilled out into the street to serenade the neighbours and finish their set while standing on the wheel well of their uhaul. Very cool and fun way to end the show.
Enjoy some Augustines' music:
"Chapel Song" from Rise Ye Sunken Ships
"Cruel City" from Augustines
"Juarez" from Rise Ye Sunken Ships
"Augustine" from Rise Ye Sunken Ships
"Now You Are Free" from Augustines
"Nothing To Lose But Your Head" from Augustines
"Book of James" from Rise Ye Sunken Ships
"Weary Eyes" from Augustines
They finished up the show on the side of their uhaul, on Dundas Street, with "New Drink for the Old Drunk" from Rise Ye Sunken Ships. Spectatcular performance. So glad that I was introduced to this band.