Continuing on with the Gigs of the Year…now we are into the good stuff. I saw some great shows this year as well as some no-so-great. The best concert of the year also turned out to be the last one I saw — I had high hopes for this gig, and the guys did not disappoint.
- Riverside (The Agora Ballroom, Cleveland)
This was the fourth of the four gigs in a row that I caught during the Love, Fear and the Time Machine tour in North America. It was a difficult show; Duda was sick and exhausted, battling some kind of throat infection. Cleveland came the day after blowing the roof off in Chicago and Mariusz was essentially running on fumes, doing his best to not just phone it in but clearly struggling, short on energy and fighting his way through the songs. However, towards the end he got a huge injection of energy when the crowd belted out Happy Birthday (and mangled his name; his expression was priceless). That really seemed to make him happy and boosted the last few songs.
- Árstíðir (Church of St. Stephen’s-in-the-Field)
I can’t remember exactly how I came across this outfit, gentle folk rock/post-rock from Iceland; I tried a few tracks from youtube and they didn’t really grab me, far too sedate; but the idea of seeing a band like this in a church seemed like something worth checking out. And they really were very good, very musical, personable and intimate, a beautiful setting, it was a special evening.
- Riverside (The Mod Club, Toronto)
Toronto audiences are a bit weird. Really hipster alty and metal types, not really into prog, and I was a bit nervous about the turnout for Riverside given the size of the venue. And the crowd was smaller than I had hoped for, a couple hundred people or so, but the show, being the first of four in a row I was to see, was a great introduction to the new material and new stage presence of Riverside. They were much heavier on stage than the new album would have suggested, lots of energy; and it was the first time to experience the beauty of “Found” with the lights.
Continue reading The Gigs of 2015: Part 2 (Shows 8 – 1)
As the end of 2015 looms, it is time to start thinking about the Musical Year that Was. I will begin with a two – part post on the gigs I attended, starting at the bottom and working my way to the Show of the Year.
I took in a lot of gigs this year, more than I realized. A few of those were post-rock or related shows in the style that generally does not appeal to me; I went in large part because some notable bands in the genre passed through town. I was willing to give them a chance because more than once I have been pleasantly surprised by a band’s live performance when I was not a fan of their albums. The major news of course was the return of Riverside to North America; I managed to take in four of their shows via a massive roadtrip.
- Swans, (Opera House)
I was actually excited to see Swans, a rather legendary band in some corners, and one that has been around for a long time. Their last two albums have been interesting. But…an hour and three long drony meandering musical excursions later I had had enough. Bored to tears, I left, the first time I had walked out of a gig in memory. Even a naked Thor Harris was not enough to keep me there.
- Mono (Lee’s Palace)
Mono is a well-regarded Japanese post-rock outfit and would seem a shame to miss them, but that slow atmospheric going-nowhere-fast style of post rock is just not for me. I stuck it out for most of the gig but split early. I got the point, and I can say that I saw them.
- Haken (The Hard Rock)
I wrote a brief and rather scathing review of their album The Mountain for Prog Archives, and I still do not understand what appeal these guys have. However, I decided to take a chance because sometimes a band whose studio stuff you don’t like can put on a decent live show (see: Anathema)…but nope. Their derivative style of prog is no better live and the frontman is exceedingly irritating with all his rock-star posturing.
- Explosions in the Sky (Nathan Phillips Square)
Another iconic atmospheric post-rock outfit, this time from the US. It was a free gig around the PanAm games that were held in Toronto over the summer, and that was the main reason I went; I already knew I was not fond of them. They were energetic, and skilled, but all the songs ended up sounding the same.
Continue reading The Gigs of 2015: Part 1(Shows 17 – 9)
We’re halfway through the year so I thought I would do a quick run-down of the music that has caught my attention up to this point. There are not a lot of albums on the list; for a variety of reasons I have not been knocking myself out seeking new music. But finding it is never a problem – there is far more great music out there than anyone could ever listen to, and many of my friends have reasonably decent taste. 🙂
It might be a short list, and not everything on there is going to make it across the finish line, but the quality of the releases has been outstanding. Let me put it this way: if this year’s no-hopers had appeared in 2014, my year-end tally would have looked quite different. Last year it was tough to come up with ten albums without padding the list; this year it is going to be hard to leave things off. If the quality of the upcoming releases is as high as what has already appeared, I may simply make a Top 15.
This is a year that demonstrates beyond all doubt that the best, most engaging, most sheerly awesome sounds are being made by people no-one has ever heard of, or who have been forgotten—folks who have nothing to lose and in the overall scheme of things (especially in the current musical economic reality) little to gain; when the icons seem to have become mired in hype and self-referential twaddle, and when genres have become meaningless (not that they ever were really meaningful, mind you).
So without further ado, here are the best (so far) of the maybe 16 albums I considered, in roughly reverse order. Needless to say this is subject to change at any time, and is pretty much bound to change as the new crop of upcoming releases hits.
Continue reading Albums of 2015: The Year So Far
This is just a summary list of the albums I have reviewed and the gigs I went to this year. Please visit the previous posts if you want to read what I said and listen to select tracks. If not…then this post winds it up (almost…).
The Top 10 Albums
10. Sounds Like the End of the World: Stages of Delusion
9. John Wesley: Disconnect
8. Knifeworld: The Unravelling
7. Rival Sons: Great Western Valkyrie
6. Tuber: Desert Overcrowded
5. The Pineapple Thief: Magnolia
4. Tune: Identity
3. Katatonia: Kocytean
2. Seven Impale: City of the Sun
1. Salt of the Chief Cornerstone: Intelligent Design
Continue reading Recap: The Albums and Gigs of 2014