Tag Archives: 2013)

An Evening With Patti Smith: Massey Hall (Friday Sept 6, 2013)

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This year has been a punk rock hero year for me.  I didn’t think it would get any better after seeing Iggy and the Stooges at Riot Fest a few weeks back here in Toronto.  But nothing could have prepared me for seeing my punk rock heroine, Ms. Patti Smith, at Massey Hall on a cool Friday night in September.

Surprisingly it was not a full house at Massey Hall; I’m guessing it was the dear ticket prices that kept the aging Toronto punk rock community away.  Massey Hall was the perfect venue for Ms. Smith.  This building has some of the best acoustics in the city and aches history.  A wonderful welcome mat for our girl. Those that there were in attendance were ready for our Ms. Smith dose when she took the stage.

In full swagger dressed in her signature creased blazer, shaggy long grey black hair, a distressed white t-shirt, rad motorcycle boots, wrinkled faded denim jeans she grinned a genuine smile as she walked onto the stage.  She began her performance by singing and dancing effortlessly to songs like ‘Redondo Beach’, ‘Distant Fingers’  (for the girls and Amy Winehouse) and John Lennon’s ‘Beautiful Boy’ (Darling Boy)  (for the boys).

In between songs in true Patti form she segued between spoken word poetry moments and strutting it liked she was transported back to New York’s Punk Rock heyday with dashes of familial warmth.  She congratulated Toronto on our film festival and mentioned she had checked out Jim Jaramusch’s TIFF offering the night before.  In typical cheekiness she pumped the comment up by paying Nicole Kidman an ode in song.

I observed fellow ladies up dancing to ‘Dancing Barefoot’ perhaps like they had many times before in their own living rooms without Patti as a witness. It was earlier this year that Patti was in town showcasing her photographic works at the AGO.  Her performance that accompanied that shown sold out in seconds and left many disappointed.  This show was making up for that.

Next up was ‘Psychotic Reaction’ which was sung with so much sexy venom that it left us wondering what was behind the smirk in her performance.  After the song, she told the audience many had asked her what punk rock meant to her during those CBGB years.    ‘Psychotic Reaction is my punk rock,’ she stated giddily.

By the time Springsteen’s ‘Because The Night’ rolled out the crowd was warmed up and ready for sing-along.  Full of melancholy she dedicated it to her late husband Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith.  In that moment, I had a flashback of reading her book ‘Just Kids’ in bed at home and remembering the honour she paid to her relationships with men during life.  Sam Shephard being just another one of them (man, he’s a dreamboat).  Patti is a class act.

She continued on to bring us gorgeous versions of ‘Birdland’, ‘Beneath the Southern Cross’ , ‘Land/Gloria’, ‘Banga’,’ My Blakean Year’,’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger’,’ Pissing in a River’, ‘Break It Up’ and ‘We Three’.  There were continuous heckling moments from concert goers between songs begging her to play tunes from her catalogue.  At one point I observed Patti looking vulnerable as she listened closely to their demands.  But she wasn’t bien sur.  She was doing her own thing on her own terms as per usual.  A fellow concert goer shouted ‘let her sing what she wants’ and she did.  Punk rock.

Not at all too cool to dance and socialize amongst her people she took moments to come out onto the floor to dance with the audience, give a young boy sitting in the front row her guitar pick and then invite more guests onto the stage to play guitar, dance and sing.  We were family.  You can’t pretend that kinda joy as it beamed from her face.   For a normally reserved Toronto crowd, they were brought to their feet.

As the show was in its last minutes, there were mentions of God, Syria, whilst spitting onto Massey Hall’s stage once shared, as Patti mentioned, with the likes of Maria Callas.  ‘This is not a movie, this is real life’ she screamed.  That’s when the strings of her guitar were pulled in full performance art fashion.  ‘Katniss Everdeen’ was even mentioned.  Who knew our girl Patti knew of The Hunger Games?

A living punk rock heroine?  Indeed and just as antiestablishment.  She blessed and dumped rose petals onto the head’s of her worshipping fans before she quietly said goodbye and left just as quickly as she came two hours before.

http://www.collectiveconcerts.com/

TURF Review: Day 4 (Sunday July 7, 2013)

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For the very first edition of TURF we had a blast.  We may have come home soaked to the bone and full of a musical buzz but for well-seasoned festival going Canadian girls like us – TURF was a perfectly organized and rocking event.

My photographer and I attended the 4th and last day of the festival on Sunday July 7th.  It started off beautifully sunny with me even getting a sunburn during Yo La Tengo’s set.  The sunshine slowly turned into a rain soaked day.  That didn’t dampen our and the other attendees spirit.  People danced in the rain and mud in the gorgeous green field at Fort York.  Who needs Glastonbury?

Our first band visit was with Yo La Tengo.  They are an American indie rock band formed in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1984.   Their hot set in the summer sun offered the audience quite the shoe gazing experience.  There was even a cheeky commentary on our Toronto Blue Jay’s.  We loved the soothing, mellow and foot tapping grooves.

Yo La Tengo was not the only Beggars Banquet band on TURF’s Sunday night roster.  Kurt Vile And The Violators and Belle and Sebastian also held down the Fort.

We also discovered the sounds of Whitehorse as the skies got progressively darker above us.  The harmonizing bluesy folksy rock from Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland (a married couple) reminded us that festivals are indeed about finding new music.  This couple stated they recently moved from steel town Hamilton to Toronto.  We hope Toronto gives them lots of opportunity to dazzle new followers.

Other bands sprinkled into our day included of Xavier Rudd and Cat Empire.  New music to chase down.  The crowd was enthusiastic to these bands world beats.

Even though we were in the crowds to absorb Neko Case’s set – all we did absorb was water.  It was a pretty intense set as we watched 20 something’s dance and flail in the mud.  Neko’s music did indeed provide a nice soundtrack to the rainy moment that lasted close to an hour.

In reflection it was lovely to see at TURF that the crowd was nicely made up of young families, 20 something hipsters, new hippie tribes, urban professionals and lots of young children.  People were eating, drinking and looking after one another. The pricing on food and beverages was reasonable.  The festival staff – were polite and very friendly.  The set up was clean – the muddy pools of water aside. The vibe felt very Woodstock.  Simple.  Not a lot of fuss and a lot of space to mill about.  For a first time festival – TURF did it right.

Upon conclusion, it was well worth the wait for Belle and Sebastian.  The crowd was ready for these Glasgow alterna popsters.  Perfect timing for a visit to Toronto as Belle & Sebastian are set to release ‘The Third Eye Centre’ – a collection of rarities, collectibles and non-LP tracks from the last decade – on 27th August 2013 on Matador Records. The album will be available to buy on CD, download and as a double heavyweight vinyl in deluxe heavy gatefold packaging.  The nineteen tracks are taken from the Glaswegian band’s most recent three albums – ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’ (2003), ‘The Life Pursuit’ (2006) and ‘Write About Love’ (2010). The album can therefore be seen as the follow-up to ‘Push Barman To Open Old Wounds’ (2005) – a compilation of the Belle & Sebastian singles and EPs released on Jeepster Records.

Belle and Sebastian always the cheeky Glaswegians were all about crowd participation, an impromptu Scrabble game, a handpicked audience member sing-along and loads of chances to dance in the mud with our mates.

Torontians continue to demonstrate to the City of Toronto that we are indeed ready for more summer musical events similar to out of towners like Osheaga, Lollapalooza and Outside lands.  There is money to be made, opportunities to be merry and celebrate the summer and most importantly be safe if well organized and properly planned.  Thank you TURF and the City of Toronto – a job well done.  Let’s do it again next year please!

http://torontourbanrootsfest.com/

http://www.beggarsgroup.ca/

If you missed Arts & Crafts 10th Anniversary Celebration ‘Field Trip’ – You Missed Out!

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The CN trains bustled behind us as we sat on the hill taking in ‘Field Trip’ as part of Arts & Crafts 10th Anniversary on Saturday June 8, 2013 – it wasn’t hard for us to feel comfortable.  The event a first for A&C was reminiscent of schools day trips.  I remembered the excitement of going on a field trip with classmates and getting my backpack ready for an all-day event.  This time as an adult I was met with super sweet music, culinary treats within an authentic historic Toronto space at Fort York just under the Gardiner Expressway.

In true Arts & Crafts form the attention to detail for the one day festival was superb.  Ample port-a-potty’s for the masses, activities for kids, free popsicles and juice for all, a hula hooping spectacle under the Gardiner Expressway, fabulous organic food, drink and a contagious merriment provided an additional flavour to the tremendous A&C line up to be further indulged upon.

If you were one of 1000 people who arrived to ‘Field Trip’ before noon you could have received an Arts & Crafts: X CD.  The CD is a collection of original collaborative recordings by artist pairings from the A&C roster.  I missed out but you can check it out here http://arts-crafts.ca/x/#sthash.gM3GVLrm.dpuf  Talk about being a good host!

Arts & Crafts have carved out a beautiful brand in these last 10 years.  It is reminiscent of 4AD and how they created a recognizable design aesthetic paired up with the goods.  A definitive musical style within a proudly Canadian polished identity.

On Saturday, we milled about and bumped into the likes of Brendan Canning, Amy Millan, Hayden and various other Toronto celeb’s as they talked to their fans.  It was chilled and appreciative affair without the fuss.  We’re Canadians – we are humble folk.

The Norman Wong x Arts & Crafts exhibit also made an appearance at ‘Field Trip’ if you were unable to catch the Pop Up Shop from late last month.  The black and white photos of the likes of Dan Mangan, Feist, Cold Specks were edgy but would also make a nice addition to your living room wall.

Bloc Party, Stars, Timber Timbre to name a few were a huge draw on the two stages and were a guaranteed good time in getting people moving and shaking in the summer sun.  Feist felt a underwhelming to me.  Bloc Party killed it as they usually do giving a nice change up to the sombre sounds of Hayden before them.  Stars – really, if you don’t own any of Stars albums by now – you should.  They are a Canadian treasure.

Broken Social Scene – who let’s face it could be considered Toronto’s own version of a Unicorn who only appear in magical moments gave the crowd a powerful homecoming.  They even played their 2002 classic album ‘You Forgot It In People’ in its entirety.  There is nothing like listening to a band’s full album played live from beginning to end for your consumption.  ‘7/4 Shoreline’ and ‘Meet Me In the Basement’ – brought the house down.  Who knew 10,000 people could wiggle it at Fort York after a wonky hot then cool then hot Saturday in the summer.

Kevin Drew – although co-owner of Arts & Crafts had a few moments on stage apologizing for the hefty $90 ticket price for the day’s event but also hoping the fans had gotten their monies worth.  The response was a positive one.  An event that encouraged picnics, families with small children and a very lazy approach to enjoying your festival experience was appreciated by the audience in their cheers.  The festival organizers definitely took note of how our American counterparts run festivals with free water filling stations, a huge VIP section, an awesome line up and ambience without the ‘let’s take ourselves too seriously’ attitude.

Kevin Drew and BSS have some pretty strong views with the current political leadership in Toronto.  There were more than a few moments where Kevin mentioned ‘taking our city back’ and loving our neighbours.  Love in?  Perhaps with a rock star slant.

There was a sweet moment where Kevin encouraged the audience to clap for the absent original members of BSS Emily Haines and James Shaw from Metric who were on tour in the U.S..  As BSS played song after song, there was a solemn moment where they mentioned that they would play “Jimmy and the Photocall” in memory of James Shaw.  No sooner had the song began but there was a ‘Holy Shit, I wrote this song about this guy’ from Brendan Canning and an emotional James Shaw appeared almost magically on stage.  He had flown in from Philadelphia after his show to be part of ‘Field Trip’.  Amazing.  A true family.

After a long day as we do in Toronto – forget about grabbing a crammed streetcar.  Instead everyone walked up the ramp at Fort York and walked home satisfied.  Let’s hope there is a ‘Field Trip’ Part 2 next summer for those of you who missed out this time around.

If you are in town in August check out another Goldenvoice and Arts & Crafts event –The Grove Music Festival.  If ‘Field Trip’ was anything to go by – you are destined to have fun.  Who needs Osheaga or Lollapalooza that weekend when you can party with Arts & Crafts in Toronto?  😉

http://thegrovefest.com/

http://www.arts-crafts.ca/

Patti Smith: ‘Camera Solo’ at the Art Gallery of Ontario (February 9, 2013 – May 19, 2013)

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It’s exciting to see that the AGO is trying its best to encourage a younger crowd into its space while also ensuring their more dedicated members are just as welcome.  With the success of 1st Thursday’s (an event night featuring art, artists, live music, food, drinks and you on the first Thursday of each month) – the AGO certainly has their finger on the pulse of hipsterdom while generating a buzz towards a new generation of gallery goers. 

Enter Patti Smith.  The 66 year old Queen of poetry, spoken word, punk rock, antiestablishment by way of Chicago.  A perfect match of the vintage vs. au courant.

This winter the AGO offers a glimpse into the world of legendary musician and artist Patti Smith through an intimate exhibition featuring photographs, personal objects, and a short film. Patti Smith: Camera Solo provides a rare opportunity to experience a different side of this rock icon – best known for her profound influence on the nascent punk rock scene in the late 1970s and 80s – through her poetic expression in the visual arts.

A first for a gallery in Canada, this exhibition highlights the continual connections between Smith’s photography and her interest in poetry and literature.  The ghost of Walt Whitman, Frida Kahlo and Robert Mapplethorpe’s haunt this exhibit.  For more than four decades, she has documented sights and spaces infused with personal significance.   One cannot help but get lost in the beauty of each image and marvel how at times bleak images are married together in its solitude. 

The 75 works, a number of its 70 photographs from local collectors include of vintage Polaroid camera, presented as gelatin silver prints, alongside personal objects.  They are dreamy, hypnotic and chock full of emotion.  At times I felt like I was wafting through a My Bloody Valentine vs. Mazzy Star musical loop.  The images are stopped in time in places such as Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris in 2008, Europe and the United States.

The AGO is also speaking ‘the kids’ language by popping up a toll-free telephone in front of every installation that you can dial to hear a brief synopsis of each piece.  This plays into a nice juxtaposition to Smith’s use of a vintage Polaroid Land 250 and Gelatin Silver Print processing tools used to fashion her art. 

The exhibition also features Equation Daumal, a film directed by Patti Smith and shot by Jem Cohen on 16mm and super 8 film.  You can watch the film in church pews that were assembled to give a place of worship or pay respect as one would during a funeral.

A quote in Patti’s word on an installation wall read “I get pleasure out of having their things and sometimes photographing them. I’ve been like this since I was young. It’s part of who I am.”  For Patti it’s about paying these pieces gratitude and bringing significance to her daily life.  For you and I – perhaps the same motif.  Do we not dwell on the same album covers, books, jewellery pieces or even mementos from past loves and family for moments of pleasure and joy? 

Smith and her band are to perform two shows, called An Evening of Words and Song with Patti Smith, in the AGO’s Walker Court on March 7, 2013  as part of the March lineup for the AGO’s 1st Thursdays.  Which as you can imagine sold out immediately.  Looking at the Facebook and Twitter fury of the unavailability of tickets selling out in a matter of minutes, the AGO’s website allegedly being ill-equipped to handle the pandemonium of interest – the feedback was intense and was not only voiced by ‘Just Kids’.  Since it is now too late to catch  her performances at the AGO – this exhibit is a perfect way to enjoy a winter day inside with Patti.

This exhibition was organized by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.

http://www.ago.net/patti-smith-camera-solo

Loud Love: Soundgarden at Sound Academy (Toronto, January 25, 2013)

Soundgarden at Sound Academy - Toronto January 25, 2013

Soundgarden at Sound Academy – Toronto January 25, 2013

I wasn’t going to see Soundgarden last night in Toronto – but last Fall, I texted Andrew to ask him if he wanted to go with me.  We’ve seen them before and as usual he was dead keen.  Like he always is.  😉  So this girl picked up the tickets.

It was a snowy night in Toronto (perfectly fitting with Soundgarden’s ‘King Animal’ album cover) and after an insane week of weird revelations, kicking this darn cold, big life decisions – we trekked out to Sound Academy on the island.

The show was supposed to start at 8 p.m. but didn’t until closer to 9 p.m..  The venue was heaving with lots of boys.  Boys I probably went to see shows with Andrew as a teen.  But now all grown up and like us a lil wiser.  Andrew and I sipped our pints, caught up on life and had our usual giggles. Stone Roses at Coachella, Fleetwood Mac at the ACC, Depeche Mode upcoming tour – lots to look forward to in 2013.

When Soundgarden commenced I did my usual – pull Andrew through the mass of big men and bat my eyelashes so we could get closer to the stage.  I’ve loved Soundgarden since I discovered them as a 16 year old watching new music shows in my bedroom at my parents.  Then as you do, I stopped listening to them and opted for a more Brit angle.  Two summers ago, Andrew and I checked out Soundgarden at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto.  Hot summer and really an outdoor venue lost the band’s edge. 

Forget Audioslave, Chris Cornell’s solo work – Soundgarden is where you drop your cash.

When the boys started with ‘Been Away to Long’ from their latest album ‘King Animal’ – Sublime to say the least.  Really these guys could have played at ACC but the sweet, intimacy of being close to their fans spelled out their intent.

The Toronto Star reviews last night’s show as ‘And what concertgoers witnessed was a pretty awesome display of power; Soundgarden is a collective dynamo that always managed to sound bigger than life, rocked with intense ferocity and always delivered beyond expectations.’

Powerful indeed – ‘Rusty Cage’, ‘Spoonman’, ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ – I had memories of university and nights with friends usually laced with dancing and laughter.  Buying ‘Badmotorfinger’ the first day it was released from A&A Records on Yonge Street before my first class at York U as a teen – was so long ago.  I have come full circle.

Andrew and I agreed that we liked the mix of old and new tunes.  The boys worked the sets like a well oiled machine.  There was a cheeky moment where Matt Cameron, drummer, started to play an intro to a song by mistake.  Kim Thayil, guitarist, Chris Cornell, singer and Ben Sheperd, bassist all looked cheekily at Matt for a moment and shook their fingers in error.  Matt smiled and signaled his mistake to the crowd.  It was perfect but yet not too perfect.  There is a lot of love there between them.

It felt like they played for hours.  When I looked at my watch it was close to two-hours and 10-minutes once the encore was complete.  Best $80 I have spent in ages.  Grunge lives.  Well at least in Toronto.   Then as you do in January in Toronto,  trek home to the suburbs in a snowstorm. 

Setlist

Been Away Too Long
My Wave
Spoonman
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Jesus Christ Pose
Let Me Drown
By Crooked Steps
Taree
Blow Up the Outside World
Fell on Black Days
Non-State Actor
Drawing Flies
Hunted Down
Ugly Truth
Live to Rise
Halfway There
Hands All Over
Room a Thousand Years Wide
Rhinosaur
Superunknown
Fresh Tendrils
Black Hole Sun
Attrition
Rusty Cage

Outshined
Flower
Incessant Mace

Slaves & Bulldozers @Info[with “Rowing” snippet at start]