deerhoof and Grimes
Deerhoof / Buke & Gase @ Cabaret du Mile End 2012.09.19 My friends Kubota and Midori were spending 3 days in Montreal. The music festival Pop Montreal was also in effect and Deerhoof were playing on the 19th. Deerhoof! Delicious food! Great friends! That was more than enough to convince me to fly to Montreal and back for one night even though I had to work a 16 hour shift the next day. :)
I treated Kubota and Midori to dinner at Brasserie t! and Au Pied de Cochon.
Then we headed to Le Cabaret du Mile End to watch Deerhoof's showcase for Pop Montreal. It's a fairly large sized venue with a capacity I estimate at ~600. Buke & Gase performed prior to deerhoof and we managed to catch the latter half of their set. Buke & Gase are a 2pc from Brooklyn with a female (Arone) on 'buke' (6-stringed baritone-ukulele) and a guy (Aron) on 'gass' (hand-made guitar-bass hybrid). They used to be called Buke & Gass but got tired of people mispronouncing Gass (rhymes with base not sea bass). Aron also plays bass drum while simultaneously playing his 'gass' while Arone sings lead with the voice of a Siren and occasionally plays 'toe-bourine.' The music is somewhat dark and melancholic with enchanting vocals and otherworldly tones arising from their hybrid instruments. Kubota loved them! I was initially hooked and taken by surprise by the powerful female vocals and bizarre 'guitar' tones but imho their songs didn't have enough variety. Also with their songs the vocals parallel the instrumental melody which get incredibly boring after awhile.
Still they were pretty impressive, it's just that I think they could elevate their songwriting with respect to vocal melodies to match (independently) the greatness of their instrumental sound.
There was a decent sized audience for Buke & Gase but the venue filled to capacity as Deerhoof's performance neared. Being tall I would have preferred watching Deerhoof perform while close to the stage near the middle but for Midori and Kubota's sake we watched from the left side of the stage where they could get an unobstructed view of the band. My ability to enjoy Deerhoof's set was hampered by two things. Firstly, watching them perform from a side profile view. Secondly, I had a bit of a cold with clogged sinuses so my ears still hadn't 'popped' or depressurized from the flight to Montreal. The sound was rather muffled so to me Deerhoof's performance spuriously lacked 'umph!' For these reasons, Deerhoof didn't seem to kick as much ass as in past shows in Toronto. I'm sure if my hearing wasn't temporarily impaired and if I watched from centre stage I would have enjoyed the show a hell of a lot more.
I stayed with Kubota and Midori at their hotel in Old Montreal and the next morning we ate at Olive & Gourmando.
I nearly missed my flight back to Toronto because there was an accident on the highway to Pierre Trudeau airport. A 30 min bus-ride took almost 2 hours because the bus took a detour through a residential area and stopped every 20m for stop signs. Are you kidding me?!! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Grimes / Elite Gymnastics / MYTHS @ Lee's Palace 2012.9.22
Just three days after Kubota saw his first North American gig in Canada (Deerhoof at Pop Montreal. The NMFT shows don't count) we would be heading to Lee's Palace to watch his first live show in Toronto. I wasn't sure if Midori would enjoy Grimes so I only bought tickets for myself and Kubota. In fact, a few weeks before I let Kubota listen to Grimes' music and watch PV's for "Oblivion" and "Genesis" at the same as I introduced him to Phantogram's music. He loved Phantogram but wasn't too keen on Grimes but he'd definitely go to the show with me since he's a fan of music in general and is pretty open-minded.
Grimes would perform two sold out shows at Lee's Palace. Kubota and I went to to the 2nd show on the Saturday night. Lee's Palace is a fairly large venue (cap 600) that is situated just east of Koreatown on Bloor. The whole neighbourhood was pretty lively and had a great party vibe. Doors to the show opened at 9pm. We got there around ten and MYTHS had just started their set. MYTHS is a female digital-noise punk duo from Vancouver whose sound is incredibly "in your face." In general, I find US/Canadian music to be a bit stale and boring which is why I've gravitated towards Japanese music the last few years. Well MYTHS is definitely not stale and boring but whether their music is any good is a more complicated can of worms. My initial reaction to MYTHS was that they were untalented and exceedingly annoying with their obnoxiously high-pitched shrieking and instrumental cacophony. So much that I was embarrassed to call Vancouver my hometown. But the more I listened and watched I got used to the noise and became somewhat amazed at how they're able to scream for extended periods at such a freakishly high pitch. When I asked Kubota what he thought he paused... and said (in Japanese) "I actually like them... they're pretty awesome!" That was a bit surprising. I figured he would have thought these two Vancity girls are batshit crazy and their music is the resultant guano. Well, MYTHS are batshit crazy and their music is guano but I guess that's what makes them so left-field and notable. Kubota enjoyed their set. I found it 'interesting' and not as bad at the end as I had thought at the beginning.
I took some video footage of them but the audio fidelity is really poor so here's a clip I found on Youtube instead:
This seems a lot more tame compared to what I remember from the Lee's Palace show. If you listen to the high pitched shrieking at the 0:38 mark and multiplied by two then looped it for 3min then you might get something closer to what I witnessed at Lee's Palace.
Wait a sec. I found another video which is a lot closer to what I remember but even this isn't as extreme as the Lee's Palace show. Not nearly as much window shattering shrieking vs Sept 22.
After MYTHS, Kubota and I took a break and went to Kachi to eat some gamjatung (Pork Bone Soup). Kachi probably has the best gamjatung broth in Toronto but Joon's across the street has much higher quality, tender meat. We caught the last bit of Elite Gymnastics set and weren't the least bit regretful having breaked for some delciously spicy pork bone soup. There was a massive gap between the end of Elite Gymnastics' set and the start of Grimes'. It must have been about 45 min and the crowd was getting a little restless. Made worse by the fact obscure, shitty contemporary-classical music was being played in the background. What seemed like an eternity later, two ladies in makeshift dresses crafted out of clear vinyl tarp climbed down from a window above the left side of the stage. It was the two girls from MYTHS. Then Grimes followed suit albeit dressed in her usual attire. The crowd went bonkers.
I've seen early clips of Grimes where she's a bit nervous but with countless shows under her belt she's developed a ton of confidence and is fairly animated on stage. And with MYTHS singing chorus and acting as crazed back-up dancers it brought even more energy to the performance. Grimes didn't spend much time emceeing between songs but she was calm, cute and funny when she did. She drank from a big pitcher of tap water eschewing the free bottles of mineral water the venue normally provides. Although Grimes considers herself more of a Montreal-er nowadays, she emphasized and big-upped the fact that all three acts were from Vancouver.
Personally, I enjoy shows with bands playing instruments as opposed to music that for the most part is prerecorded. However, group_inou are near the top of my list of favorite live performers and I really enjoyed Grimes' performance as well. In fact, I think a 2man show with group_inou vs Grimes would be absolutely NUTS and a match made in heaven. Grimes is great at borrowing from numerous styles of music and creating heavily layered instrumentals with simple melodies exalted by a central vocal melody. On the other hand, group_inou's instrumentals are comparatively less layered but involve much more creative and intricate melodies with vocals almost lacking in melody albeit sung/spoken with plenty of style and emotion. In other words group_inou and Grimes take opposite approaches to creating songs but they both seem to work. I have to give the edge to Imai as being the superior songwriter though since it's more difficult to compose a single intricate melody than to layer a few simple ones together. However, Grimes' music has a much more mature sophisticated tone preferable to the youthful energetic one that group_inou champions. Anyhow, I think a show with Grimes and group_inou performing together would be absolutely killer.
"Oblivion" is probably Grimes' most well known song and I hate to admit it but it's still my favorite song by her:
Hey, she stole グーミ's idea with the bubble blowing machine! ;)
Grimes, MYTHS and Elite Gymnastics encouraged the audience to bumrush the stage during "Genesis"
Half the audience was on-stage by the end of the song! It was a great show. When it comes to Canadian music Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Nickelback, Bryan Adams and Sum41 are the names that get mentioned most often. More recently, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Feist, Fucked Up, Caribou, Holy Fuck, deadmau5, Drake, Death from Above 1979 and Japandroids have been getting noteriety. But as a Canadian I'm most proud of SSRI's and Grimes! hahaha.