Do Make Say Think December 7,2012, Opera House, Toronto
The night finds me rolling into Union Station as the night begins to take it’s cover over the city of Toronto. With 80 gigs of music shuffling through my ears I decide to take foot. On the streets, instantly overcome with nostalgia. Making my way east from the core. Just a few blocks of faces as the streetlights glow. Once on Queen street I become more emotionally balanced and excitement seems to fuel the step.
Pull it all back to a saunter, rhythms in my ears now do the walking. My environment the cinema and my recollections of living here a few years ago expose. It’s always amazed me how things you see can have a sound in your mind, even memories. Looking at crumbled brick on the side of building may evoke the sound of a cello in your mind. This city holds much of this magic and reflection for me. Memories of love lost and love adorned, reminders of many nights akin to how this night may become. It may be sensical to mention that the neighbourhood I was padding towards is that of my former abode.
A block now from the Opera House I wait with baited breath. In the old pub where I use to socialize amongst friends. I wait with a Guinness (or 2) for my partner. The night feels like a homecoming, even if just for one night. It has been so long since I’ve felt a love for this place, it’s nice to be back in that emotional space. In love with the atmosphere of the night.
Inside the Opera House the vibe is much the same. Pleasingly so. With DMST having a homecoming gig after returning from a European tour with Constellation label mates Sandro Perri, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, A Silver Mountain Zion and Colin Stetson. In support of the Constellation anniversary tour. Also DMST’s first Toronto show since their performance at the TIFF Lightbox for their reworking of the film score for Greed. A golden evening of blissful sounds.
Tonight likely marks a lot of things for many people in attendance here at the Opera House. There is a sense of family in the air, it doesn’t quit feel like just another concert. There is a sense of celebration. I don’t often experience this at many live events but Do Make Say Think, for all the times I’ve seen them, maintain this celebratory experience.
The house lights dim and the glow of the stage reveals our heroes for the evening. Justin Small (guitar) Ohad Benchetrit (guitar) Charles Spearin (Bass) James Payment (drums) David Mitchell (drums). The boys dive right into their bag of sonic blissfulness and shower the crowd with favourites. These folks know how to paint with sound, with long brush strokes, textural layering is their forte. You’re pulled to the outer limits and snapped back into place, standing amidst another hypnotic rhythm. I along with so many others have longed for such an experience, together again, in the same room, sharing in the magic of one of Toronto’s finest groups of musicians.
It isn’t even all that relevant what particular songs they played. It’s more how they were played. With the utmost of passion and visceral dedication to delivering their very best. This will forever be one of the greatest bands to ever exist. I will never be able to do them justice with mere words or dribbled description. They are an experience.
Sigur Ros August 1,2012 Echo Beach Toronto
A full moon. A gentle summer night’s breeze. A beach and the city’s skyline twinkling in the distance. My lovely wife wrapped up in my branches. This was and always will be a magical evening to remember. With the days sun setting behind us orchestral ambient rockers Sigur Ros began to provide us with the evenings soundtrack.
Sigur Ros is a band that plays a pivotal roll in the inception of my relationship with my lady. As I’m sure it does with many of the other couples in attendance of 4,000 at the sold out Echo Beach venue. Complete with real sand trickling it’s way between our toes. The atmosphere was so dreamy, it was almost impossible to take it all in. The anticipation was high for the group’s return. After a four year hiatus, this was their first time back on our shores and with a new album (Valtari) in tow. With this being just the fourth show of the tour everyone in attendance (including the band) was ecstatic, for the moment that was about to become our night together under the full moon.
Singer-guitarist Jon Thor “Jonsi” Birgisson, bassist Georg Holm, guitarist Kjartan Sveinsson, and drummer Orri Pall Dyrason, augmented by trios of string and horn players and a three sided backdrop of projected film and images, cast a slow, seductive spell over the audience – performing their emotional, atmospheric music in either Icelandic or their made up language Hopelandic.
Surprisingly, Sigus Ros kept the material from Valtari to a minimum, preferring instead to perform earlier songs and fan favourites like mellow slow builders that often ended in exciting climaxes – Ny Batteri, Vaka, Sfven-g-englar, Hoppipolla, and Popplagio (Untitled #8) to name a few.
Romantic, mysterious and even sedating at times, the beautiful sounds pouring from the Echo Beach stage carried such a joy into the air. Certainly, Jonsi’s stellar voice was no worse for wear, pitch perfect, and insanely ethereal at all times – at one point he even sang into the pickup of his guitar – as if he was calling out to space for an answer, and getting cheers and applause from an enthralled earthbound audience instead.
As the show roars to it’s final hum after an hour and 50 minutes, the blasts of white stage light shine out over the make shift beach and onto all of our 4,000 blissed out faces. Sending us in to the night feeling calmed, meditated and more tranquil than any other live experience could ever leave you.
Viðrar Vel Til Loftárása
Lost In The Trees w Poor Moon April 6, 2012 @ The Drake
In my opinion there is no better gift than the gift of music. So imagine my excitement and elation when for valentines day this year my wife presents me with a fresh piece of vinyl (Hanni El Khatib) and a pair of concert tickets to see one of our folk/classical favourites Lost In The Trees. After a little bit of research I discover the name of the opener Poor Moon. Though it wasn’t until the night of the show while having dinner that my wife decides to look up on the band. Just to see what they’re all about.
To our surprise we discover this is some of the members of Seattle’s Fleet Foxes. This peaks our interest and after listening to a brief sample on the iphone we were on our way to catch the opener and secure ourselves with a good sight line at the Drake.
For those that haven’t seen a show at Toronto’s legendary Drake Hotel I highly recommend it. It’s an intimate setting and room with great sound. The vantage points are great too, especially for the vertically challenged.
After the final adjustments are made on stage, Poor Moon get right down to business. Beginning with a light airy vocal harmony the six piece open the tune out into rolling drums and shimmering golden hued melodies. It’s easy to see these guys will become favourites of many soon. As their set ploughs along the similarities to Fleet Foxes are apparent but what Poor Moon has as an advantage is their material doesn’t get redundant and boring. With an ep titled ‘Illusions’ and a self-titled full length under their belt Poor Moon are embarking upon a big North American tour. One which will win themselves a plethora of new and dedicated fans.
For Lost In The Trees, emotional buttons is what they touch on best. Their unique blend of folk and baroque classical stirs up many emotions in their listener. A curious, seven piece musical outfit from Chapel Hill NC – pen the kind of heart-gushing narratives that newcomers might be surprised to learn stem from the biographical lineage of the band’s principle songwriter, Ari Picker. It’s a place of distraction, a place to rummage through a wide range of complex emotions, a place to ultimately get lost in a beautiful and natural world of expression.
Here at The Drake the band showcases a dynamic range of style and instrumentation. At times strumming through simple folk foundations, at others bringing more dramatic accompaniment (tubas, strings, drums, accordions, and so much more) to the fore. This being one of my favourite concerts of the year, this is proof of the restorative and reaffirming roles of music…a stirring set I suggest in which you let yourself loose. Who knows, like the band’s namesake, you might never find your way out of the orchestral, folkie thicket at hand.
As Lost In The Trees work through a fair amount of material from their current album ‘A Church That Best Fits Our Needs’ they were able to still sprinkle their set generously with gems from their previous albums (2007’s Time Taunts Me ep & 2010’s All Alone In An Empty House).
To close off their set they tear into ‘Fireplace’. A song that is their only four on the floor, but it’s a barn burner. By the end of it the crowd is waiting and calling for one more … the full band step off stage and stand in the middle of the room with adoring fans circling around them as they begin to play a fan favourite ‘All Alone In An Empty House’. A beautiful way to close off the night before spending the next hour talking to fans and signing merch.