Who's Coming to Dance on stage with M.I.A. ?

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The last time M.I.A. played Toronto I danced on stage with her among many other fans. She invited her fans to dance on stage with her...who could pass that up? The time before that, I saw her perform as part of Austin City Limits, and yes, I danced on stage. Now the time before that if I remember correctly, she played Toronto's Virgin Festival on the island. No, I didn't dance on stage (it was my first M.I.A. concert), but a lot of other people sure did. 
So the question is begging to be asked, is she gonna invite her fans on stage when she plays Toronto's Sound Academy next Wednesday, the 22nd of September?

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Tickets are still available at the usual outlets, so get on it, before this sells out!
I mean really, how cool is it to say you've danced on stage with M.I.A. ? 

And if you're not the dancing type, simply go for the music....'Galang', 'Bamboo Banga', '20 Dollar' (a J&J favourite), some song called, 'Paper Planes' and her latest, 'XXXO' and the one with the ginger kids in the video, 'Born Free'. 
Oh, and I hear Rye Rye is opening for her. If you like M.I.A. you're gonna LOVE Rye Rye. 

See ya there? On stage perhaps?

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Words & Photos: Jess Watt

 

 

A KISS to Remember

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Dubbed as the Hottest Show on Earth, KISS and their army of fans invaded the shores of Lake Ontario this past weekend. Having recruited followers of all ages in a variety of get-ups with the constant theme being black, particularly black leather, it was both a show on and off stage to be witnessed at least once in a lifetime.


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KISS have been in the 'game' for 37 years and counting, so they know how to bring it. Having performed for tens of thousands of people at once this past show must have seemed like a flash in the pan for them-just 15'000 people, that's all. But as expected, they brought it, playing up to every audience member's and photographers dreams (see below). Blood-spitting, pyrotechnics, make-up, the classic songs, Gene's tongue, the platform boots, the works. KISS is known more so for their live show, and not their music. Yeah, everyone knows "Rock and Roll All Nite", some even live by its lyrics, but its their live show that's really famous. So when the band performed newer songs it wasn't a lull in the show; they rocked it so hard in their performances that it didn't matter if you didn't know the music. 


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This is truly a band of the marketing age: pewter figurines, his & hers fragrances, M&M's, Big Gulp cups, make up kits, jigsaw puzzles, oh and a pinball machine. KISS is not just a band, they're a empire. And not suggesting that the KISS empire needs cash, but with a live show of theatrical proportions they could easily take up residency in Las Vegas. Till then KISS continue to tour North America hitting even the tiniest of cities, recruiting new fans to the KISS Kommunity along the way. And for the ultimate KISS recruit, you can even meet the band for a mere $975, ticket to the show included.


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Its funny to think that a band that started their first ever tour in the middle of winter, in Edmonton of all places (what were they thinking!), back in 1974 could ever come this far. Living legends, living large.


Photos by JESS WATT


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MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS ARE A BOYS BEST FRIEND

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If you like Feist, Annie Lennox, Florence and The Machine or LaRoux... you might like Ms. Marina Lambrini Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds! Born in Wales but hailing from London, Marina has made her mark across the pond and is also signed on a 

US label - a juxtaposition which could only result in a song like 'Hollywood' which she played at the Opera House in Toronto earlier this week.  


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Marina is a true original in her music and especially in her style. Sporting black lipstick, a football jersey T and heart tights, I see why she describes her personal style as: vintage/cheerleader/cartoon.  Her music ranges from slow full-bodied piano ballads, to up-tempo new wave-new wave keyboard hybrids. She plays a variety of key instruments: piano, glockenspiel, casio VL-tone and the organ. The tone and texture of her throaty voice has an incredible, beautiful range, but the songs are mostly fun and frolicky. Her lyrics are clever and insightful, her songs are definitely worth a listen. Her fans the diamonds sure think so, superfans were screaming for her throughout the show, in the most obscene ways. A huge turnout at the Opera House and definitely a large component from the brotherhood community.    


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Songs of the night were definitely hits: 'Hollywood', 'I am not a robot' and the extended version of 'Obsession'. After attempting what might be (next to Steven Tyler falling off the stage), the worst rockstar jump we've ever seen, she gave us our encore. Demanding of the crowd "I want to hear a big, fat cuckoo" really sums up her kooky style and intro to 'Mowgli's Road'. Check out the video for that one, it's nice to see a pretty girl be creative and quirky instead of glam trampy. Marina and the Diamonds are still pretty under the radar in Canada and despite the bad music put on heavy rotation in radio, she is one "indie" songstress worthy of more exposure.


Taken in by Jenn Good with photos by Jess Watt   


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Does It Offend You, Yeah? & Kele = Party!

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Named after Ricky Gervais's character on the wildly popular, The Office, Does It Offend You, Yeah? and Bloc Party's vocalist, Kele Okereke shared the bill to an under-attended show downtown Toronto last week. Having soldout larger venues and being topped as headliners at festivals, one had to wonder just where the Bloc Party fans were that night. For those in the know, or those true Bloc Party fans it was a night to revel in as yes, he did play some Bloc Party songs!

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Does It Offend You, Yeah? started the show promptly at 8pm to under one hundred people. Does it offend them? No. After the first electro thrashing instrumental song the band explained that their singer had gotten the flu and wouldn't be joining them onstage. Does it offend the crowd, no! 

The four-piece give it their all. What saved them from utter demise, as really, a band could easily go down in given these circumstances is their music. The live guitar and bass mixed with a live drummer, thrown in a laptop full of crunchy beats...Hell, who needs the singer anyway! Its the beats, its the energy that feed a groove, not the vocals, at least not in this case. Made me wanna lock myself in my bedroom and turn up the stereo real loud and dance without caring. You know, like we did back then, when our parents pissed us off and we were sent to our rooms and the only way to rebel was to turn it up loud, real loud. Remember?


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Kele came out looking like a dancing basketball player adorned in a Pistons shirt.

Admitting he has a potty mouth; it was the crowd that should really talk. With remarks and shoutouts like, "I'll have your baby!" or  "Take off your clothes" its no wonder he's happy to play to the small clubs...and screaming girls??? Who knew Kele was a sex object? But really who could blame ya, when he shakes his ass like that on stage. Makes a certain girl wanna come back from 'the dark side' and go even darker.


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Having listened to the disc before seeing Mr. Bloc Party live, I recommend doing the complete opposite. His energy, his music don't come across on disc/mp3. See him live while you can, cause before long he'll be back with his Bloc Party buds holed up in studio and bets are he won't be shaking his ass when the boys are around. That, and oh, his set are really really short! 


Throughly enjoyed with photos by Jess Watt.


Btw, he played Bloc Party's "The Prayer"


 

 

A Summer of Legends...

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Musical legends that is. And yes, it has been a power-packed summer of concerts put on by  legends in all genres. George Clinton & The P-Funk Allstars, Aerosmith and Sting to name a few. We're dealing with some heavy-hitters indeed. Before we start another season with fresh concert reviews and insights on possible soon-to-be legends, let's recap our legendary summer that was.

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Starting back in June at Toronto's annual NXNE music festival we were graced with both a legend and a LEGENDARY concert, held in the overflowing confines of Yonge & Dundas Square. The lustful Iggy Pop had the all ages, all backgrounds, crowd in a free for all frenzy. Intense.

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Weeks later the soul sounds of a Miss Bettye Lavette graced an under-attended concert hall as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Feeling the jazz vibe in our bones we traveled East to Montreal to take in their ever-popular International Jazz Festival. It was here, we waited and waited and waited for George Clinton to take the stage. And when he did, he was showed up by his own band, The P-Funk Allstars. Yes, he is legend and all, but loose the attitude dude.

Let the arguing begin now... Courtney Love. Yes, I'm gonna say it, "she is a legend." Not on the same legend levels of some of the others on this list, but she's still a legend in my mind. And for me this was the most anticipated concert of the summer. Have you heard heard her new disc? LOVE IT! Miss World did not disappoint. 

Sting thought he was performing legendary concerts this summer with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but really it was just painful reworkings of Police songs that made him famous. A disappointment on a grand scale.

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The showman of showmanship, a true legend, Mr. Beatle, SIR Paul McCartney played two soldout shows in Toronto. Playing the best of The Beatles and Wings for over 3 hours each night, the Walrus did not disappoint the thousands he sang to, except for maybe a one, one who still would rather be a Rolling Stone.....!

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The month of August seemed to bring out the legendary rock acts of generations: Aerosmith and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Both playing their greatest hits to near soldout, multi-generational crowds. Though some may say Steven Tyler's fall into the crowd, early set is legendary, it didn't make the show. That was the antics of bandmate Joe Perry that made the show. I mean really, since when was it cool to whip off your belt, throw the buckle to the crowd and proceed to whip your guitar with said belt? Or better yet, 'stab" the amplifier with the neck of one of your many guitars. Is this how all guitar gods should perform?
Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers weren't nearly the spectacle of Aerosmith,  but that's not to say he didn't put on a great show, busting out the hits early on. 

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Closing out the summer of legends were Canadians, Blue Rodeo, who played their annual gig at the amphitheatre to an appreciative crowd. Though you can't really put a band like Blue Rodeo and someone like Sting in the same list, you can concur that Blue Rodeo are indeed Canadian legends.

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Other notable acts we covered that could be argued to be legends, some in their own mind, include the godfathers of grunge, Mudhoney, X, early hip hoppers, De La Soul, true-coloured, Cyndi Lauper, and Lady Gaga (c'mon, you've seen those videos! Legendary)

Agree or disagree with the list...regardless it's been a legendary summer. But now that summer's come to an end, its time to seek out new legends in music and September is promising to bring out a few. Keep your eyes here for new acts and the odd legend or two....yes, we're going to our first (!) Kiss concert.

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Compiled with photos by Jess Watt


 

 

Tom Petty Won't Back Down

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The generation-spanning, multi-talented, Tom Petty played to the masses downtown Toronto earlier this week. Bringing back the hits of years gone by, he not only pleased the 'fathers' in the audience, but got their 'daughters' too! Check out what songs he played...

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With Petty's repertoire spanning over thirty years, this was definitely a feel-good family outing to be had by all. For the 'parents' in the audience, Petty went back to his first release, circa 1976 with 'Refugee'. For the thirty-somethings, like me in the audience, Petty and The Heartbreakers brought back my memories of youth in the late 1980s/1990s with favourites like 'Mary Jane's Last Dance', 'Learning to Fly' and the classic 'Free Fallin' of which he played early in the set! Makes you wonder what he encored with......
For the newbies in the audience aka the ones who weren't drinking beer, and to keep his older fans satisfied with new material, Petty showcased select songs from his recently released, blues-laden record, Mojo. He even offered up free digital downloads of the record for those in the audience, proving he's well aware of how his newer audiences get their music. 

Here's to Tom Petty for 'Learning to Fly'!

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Photos & review by Jess Watt

Btw, he encored with a forgotten personal old fav of mine, 'Runnin' Down a Dream' and the up-tempo, 'You Wreck Me'.


 

 

Aerosmith put on a spectacle in many ways

Having rocked this way, since before I was born they're still killing it!!! Aerosmith remain the biggest selling American band of all time. As you may have heard, they passed through Toronto earlier this week. The scene was neon green from Steven Tyler's glowing tailored track pants to Joey Kramer's muscle shirt with green lazers in between. Before we get to the music, some stylists need to be fired.    


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The entire stage was covered with the classic Aerosmith wings flag and behind it was a dancing Tyler, shakin his booty to 'It's Gettin Hot in Here' before the show even started. When the stadium high flag dropped, Steven sprang out in those green things adorned with a sequined trenchcoat, signature shades, cowboy hat and bedazzled sketchers. Luckily Joe Perry still brings it, looking like a rockstar in his tight leathers, gold shoes, scarf and true aviator shades.         


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Right off the bat during some 'Love in an Elevator' people will be talking about Steven Tyler "falling off the stage", though perhaps he had a nudge by Perry? I gave him credit for jumping albeit, it was not a very rockstar jump.  The 3 ladies he landed on however seemed forever grateful.  He was unharmed and it was safety first all night, he even brought a mattress down the catwalk to crawl on for a cover of Van Morrison's 'Baby Please Don't Go'.  


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'Living on the Edge' came next although not too hard and not too strong. The extent of Tyler's living on the edge was him throwing his sunglasses into the crowd.  The accompanying video screens for this one displayed images of murder, terror... and the pope.  The glow in the dark stage was pretty awesome but the set was pretty minimal - screens, lights, 1 confetti cannon. Good music never relies on props, though they never hurt.  As the screenshot tightens on Tyler's large rings and animal print streamers (mirroring most of the crowd's pants), the show merges into a rather lengthy drum solo by Joe Kramer. This we've decided is to give Steven's strained voice a rest.  


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Aerosmith has some great hits and a few misses. There were some mediocre performances but really they're just mediocre songs, songs like 'Pink' and 'Falling in Love' are ok but not their best. But when they finally got to 'Cryin', which was not a moment overdue, they really hit their stride and reminded me why I was so pumped for this show. Tyler brought me to my knees "dyyyyin to let you..." That song is a greatest hit and the video is my favourite of all time which they played none of! Yeah Alicia Silverstone puts it to my ex-boyfriend Stephen Dorff. Girls! don't ever let a boy make you feel like you need to jump off a bridge. Just attach a bungee cord and give the mofo the finger on the bounce back up. Go watch the video - Aerosmith, can't believe you didn't show a single clip! Unlike 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing', where they showed the whole  video with Ms. Liv Tyler. Speaking of which, the multiple slutty animated silhouettes throughout the show kinda creeped me out because when they look like the lead's daughter, it's just weird.


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One of the highlights of the show was Joe Perry telling us how a kid at a meet and greet said he could beat him at guitar hero.  So he waged a war onstage to prove which was better... "a digital cartoon or flesh and bones". And after a kickass solo, the cartoon blew up and that debate was settled. Then he awarded himself the opportunity to play us the Blues on his favourite guitar adorned with the Canadian flag, which he played behind his head.   


Moments matching this one included the Lennon-worthy cover of 'Come Together', paying homage to the greatest band of all time Jess, that's right - The Beatles not the Rolling Stones. And they gave an all-star performance of one of the most classic rock songs of all time 'Sweet Emotion'.


The concert ended abruptly and was followed by the shortest encore of all time. But they did choose a powerhouse pair of epic tunes to come back with.


1) Their best song of all time 'Dream On' which sent the jury back with the verdict that Tyler and the boys indeed still have it simply by accomplishing those impossible high notes.           


2) And the final song of the evening was the anticipated 'Walk This Way' which is down in history in collaboration with Run DMC as the first rap-rock mash up of all time.


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So despite the fashion crimes, these guys still show us what separates the true rockstar legends - from the rest. Though they can't hit their songs as strong live anymore, the fact is that the songs themselves are strong enough to remain timeless. And if you ever get the chance to see Aerosmith, you won't want to miss a thing.


Witnessed by Jenn Good

Photos by Jess Watt

 




 

 

Crystal Castles

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Local duo and The Hour favourites, Crystal Castles lit up the Koolhaus in Toronto last Saturday night with the razor sharp siren sounds of producer Ethan Kath and shattering shrill voice of Ms. Alice Glass.  


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"Where's Alice?"


Playing tracks off both their self-titled albums, their expanded cult following exploded into an uncontrolled frenzy.  The vibe was frantic and unfettered, the wild and reckless youth took the place over.  We have witnessed multiple CC shows but the crowd at this one took the cake. Feeling all ages, but not,  these little fist-pumpers didn't care who they knocked in the head. The urgent infectious wave of sound set to the seizuring light show fueled the fire. 


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The lighting and effects have evolved but the Doc-clad, pencil skirted, Glass did not disappoint us with her spasmatic moves, sprawling along the floor. 'Courtship Dating' and 'Celestica' were performances of the night but 'Crimewave' continues to be their best song.  Crystal Castles, named after She-Ra, is like a knife fight while riding a motorcycle top speed through Hong Kong at night.         


Check em' out if you can before they make the jump to South America (!) later this year.


Jess & Jenn reunited.

 

 

NNEKA shows off her Heart(beat)

Making her debut Canadian performance at a sweaty soldout show at Toronto's infamous El Mocambo earlier this week, 28 year old Nneka brought the house down. Having freshly come off the touring Lilith Fair and with a stop at Lollapalooza, North America is finally waking up to Nneka.

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Backed by her 5 piece band, the Nigerian born, Deutschland raised, sang about among other things, corruption, bribery and injustice. After successfully covering fellow Nigerian and legend, Fela Kuti's VIP-Vagabounds in Power, accompianed by a hauntingly sing-a-long with the crowd of diverse urbanites, the performance took an unexpected turn. In a likely mix of both heat exhaustion and a lull in the show the room grew a little less packed and the bar louder. A minor intermission perhaps? No, just a bit of a breather for everyone in attendance, including the band.


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Things picked up with some Marley-esque guitar riffs and the soulful voice of Nneka once again filled the room. Nneka closed out the show with a towel on her head, looking like she just came out of the shower, that shower being the wave of humidity currently filling Toronto's summer.  A resurgennce of the crowd greeted the singer as she whispered the first few lines of Heartbeat, the infectious single off her third release, Concrete Jungle. And again, the club was hers.


Be sure to check out her myspace page, http://www.myspace.com/nnekaworld


Words & Photos by Jess Watt


 

 

WAKESTOCK 2010

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Wakestock kicked off for the second time in Collingwood's Millenium Park August 6-8th, and it came fast and furious with the world's best board riders, bangin bands and some bikini broads. The world's top wakeboarders, skateboarders and wakeskaters were in attendance, along with a lot of line-ups and the appearance of the legendary Public Enemy - Believe the hype!   

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The festival included some of the world's best Wakeboard Pros and upcoming Amateurs. Friday and Saturday's conditions were near perfect for the semi finals.

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But when it came to the finals on Sunday it was rough out there outside the wake. From rain to high winds the final four had a lot to contend with including injuries. And there were a few serious bails creating new injuries, even the Pros fall sometimes.

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It was Bob Soven who took home the win against the other final 3 including his brother who placed third. Bob did admit he also had the best conditions of the day. Soven who was sited by the announcer as the "best looking ginger in the house" was grateful for the win and for the chance to dance!

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And dancing there was, moshing and crowd surfing even, during the concerts at Wakestock and at the afterparties in the Blue Mountain Village.  The most notable performance was of course by the legendary Public Enemy. You better believe I was wearing my clock, I was surprisingly the only one. And they just killed it with their classics, especially 'Don't Believe the Hype', 'Terminator' and 'Fight the Power'.

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 Don't worry, Flav busted out his clock later and tore down the house with the power of Chuck D backed by an army theme of militance.

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And promoting peace, unity and togetherness, they did not appreciate some yahoos in the crowd throwing beer cans at people. In fact they stopped the show and made a point to call the guy out, Chuck D even threatening to go down there and get him himself. After D shouted "long live Wakestock", Flav gave us his togetherness philosophy on life and told us the 2 things he hates the most are racism and segregation. They closed their epic, energetic  and politically charged performance appropriately with 'Fight The Power'!

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Other amazing performances came by the name of USS - Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker. They brought us their anticipated antics, acrobatics, cardboard cutouts and onstage shakes!

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Surprise guest Maestro Fresh Wes who played during the USS set made our backbones slide while droppin that needle. His shining moment of the day however, was when he got to shout "don't believe the hype" during the PE show. Public Enemy big upped and encouraged the legacy of Canadian rap.

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Alexisonfire - and on fire they definitely were

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And surprise find Ko who just opened for Cypress Hill in the Tdot did an amazing job on the mic backed by a few boys we saw perform in the village the night before - Rebel Emergency.

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Other attractions included the skateboarding ramp with the best view ever.

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And the wicked mad stylings in the BMX department like this of Eric Favot

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Overall most of the Wakestock crowd was totally laid back, friendly and there to have fun. But there's always a few sideshow punks... The hooliganism didn't stop with the drunks in the village or the beercan chucking. Some total idiots pulled this trick. To be fair most of the kids were pretty awesome and well-behaved despite massive lineups and crowds. The overall Wakestock vibe has a comradery to it. It is a sense of community of the wicked, sick and ill but chill.  Surprisingly, most of the crowd had dispersed by the actual Wakestock finals, but like Flav, the true fans know what time it is!    

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I have gone to Wakestock since it started up in my cottage country in Bala and it is an annual event not to be missed. As Chuck D declared "LONG LIVE WAKESTOCK!!!
See ya next summer!

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Paul McCartney Let's 'Em In

The most successful songwriter in the world, #2 Beatle and knighted for his services to music, Sir Paul McCartney will be playing to a whopping 55,000 people in both Toronto and Montreal this week for a total of 3 shows. 
I was one in thousands that packed the ACC last night to witness the legend in all his glory. And glorified he was. After every song (approx. 30 of them) the crowd applauded and cheered with much enthusiasm. That is to say, that after performing each song, Sir Paul raised his arms to the crowd looking for approval. 

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After covering Jimi Hendrix's, Let Me Roll It, Paul recalled the first time the 1960s guitar god played the UK. Remembering how The Beatles had just released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band, and to McCartney's surprise, Hendrix himself covered the song. Like this anecdote, Paul divulged others throughout the set: dedicating Here Today to "John" and recalling the song Blackbird at the time was written for Southern U.S. civil rights.

The man who has his own coat of arms (really!) combined hits of his heydays: The Beatles & Wings and his not so heydays work with The Fireman, an on-going electronic experiment. Hey Jude, Helter Skelter, Let It Be, Live & Let Die, Yesterday, etc, all the favourites were played.

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Now having seen both a Beatle and The Rolling Stones in my lifetime, like the London 2012 Olympics has to currently decide who will headline the opening ceremonies. The timely question, and one The Hour favourites, Metric likes to ask: "The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?" 
I've said it many times and I stand by it: The Rolling Stones. :)

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Words & Photos by Jess Watt




 

 

High-kicking Juliette Lewis rocks Ontario

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Actress turned rockstar, Juliette Lewis is currently tearing through Southern Ontario and Quebec this week. If you loved her as Mallory Knox in the classic serial killing, Natural Born Killers or as Iron Maven in last year's Whip It!, you're not gonna want to miss her perform live. She is a firecracker on stage.

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Playing to a tight-packed club in downtown Toronto last night Juliette's musical talents shined alongside her pink glitter eye makeup. Starting the night out behind the drum kit draped in feathers, she quickly rose to centre stage and all over the stage, occupying the entire space, working it like she owned it. And owned it she did. The only time during the show where the crowd's eyes weren't glued on her was when she invited a few chicks from the crowd on stage to dance while she belted her heart out. Rare is it to see a show / performer that packs such a punch of both charisma and genuineness, not to mention high kicks!
Juliette is a hard working woman that in no way needs not to quit her day job, nor her night job. Rock on and roll out!

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Key tracks to check out are: "You're Speaking My Language", "Fantasy Bar", "Hard Lovin' Woman" and "Hot Kiss"

Words & Photos by Jess Watt


 

 

Sting brings classic twist to hit songs

Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, the former vocalist of The Police and now solo artist, played Toronto's Molson Canadian Amphitheatre last evening, bringing a new twist to his classic tunes. Having reunited with The 1970s/1980s new wave band The Police a few years ago, and hating it, Sting has returned to the concert circuit, this time with a bigger band, a 45 piece orchestra. But not just any orchestra, he's pulled out the stops and has alined himself with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, conducted by the flamboyant Steven Mercurio, out of London, England.



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Sting has put the classical touch on his own classics. You name it, he's singing it: Roxanne, Englishman in New York, Every Breath You Take, King of Pain, Message in the Bottle, Wrapped Around Your Finger, everything


The subdued greying crowd, all likely with an average age of 58, the same as Sting, sat back and took in the performance, as the tiny singer decked out in black, casually belted out the hits for close to three hours, including an age appropriate, intermission. Canada's national birds, er, pests, the Canadian geese seemed to enjoy the mellow atmosphere of the evening as they picked at the empty lawns of the amphitheatre. 


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Sting won't be winning over many new, younger fans with his take on his classics, but at least he's keeping his original fans happy and ageing ever so elequently with them. For me, kinda stuck in the middle of the age gap, born in 1977, the same year Roxanne came out, I'll stick with the classics in true form.


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Words & Photos by Jess Watt

 

 

Subculture for the Masses

The Semi Precious Weapons of NYC we've seen a few times in fairly small venues. Lead singer Justin Tranter even had a high kick contest with me and its safe to say I got my ass kicked (he is 6ft. and wearing heels).  But where we didn't expect to see him, was at the ACC opening for Lady Gaga. Now I think it's safe to say that not too many of us at The Hour have a lot of Gaga on our ipods but she's still selling out stadiums so what's the deal? We went to find out. And what we found was not what we expected.


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The show opened with an elaborate smokescreen effect and a giant Gaga Silhouette. The costumes and sets were as elaborate as a Broadway show.  Her set included a street car, cityscape and an awesome neon green Rolls Royce, but the best thing about the Rolls is that under the hood - was a keyboard! Her angular goth and gladiator heel fashioned outfits came outlandish and often.  The choreography and scope was a show reminiscent of a Madonna tour right down to the blonde, headset and the muscleman gay dance-troup. On her Monster Ball tour she is very Madonna meets Marlyn... Manson, with hints of Gwen Stefani. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga showed us much more than the MTV dirty bubblegum side of her.  I didn't realize what a gay rights and human rights in general advocate she was, constantly talking to the crowd and encouraging people to feel better about themselves and follow their own minds. She called everyone superstars and told us we were born that way.  She had very down to earth human qualities about her and tight MJ style dance group moves.  Her showmanship, humanity and elaborate details really exceeded her songs. She also has a great voice and actually plays instruments including piano. Not unlike one of her surprise audience members in particular - Sir Elton John was in attendance. 


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Gaga truly is an entertainer, and her outrageous style is pretty outstanding though taken from the fashion, pop and subculture trends of the time.  She knows how to take what's big and make it bigger, from the hipsters of electro pop to Vampire chic and Monster Balls, she's a hybrid genius and has much more depth than she may have been given credit for. It was amazing to see what a difference radio, marketing and distribution can do for an artist. To see all the fans that will fill 2 entire ACC's, most dressed actually as her, really highlights the power of media.  I wonder what Peaches would do if given the same resources?  Lady Gaga opened the set with the song that first went #1 in Canada 'Just Dance' and closed the night with 'Paparazzi' which featured a giant "fame monster". The other notable song of the night, was a ballad called 'Speechless' which she played on the piano while squatting on its bench.  It was a song she played about her father and tonight she played it about you and me. 'You and Me' is also one of the new songs she's written for her upcoming album which she also snuck in tonight.  Overall it was an impressive theatrical performance and showcase of subculture and modern trend, packaged for the masses.  


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Experienced by Jenn Good

Photos by Jess Watt

 

 

Courtney Love brings out the Miss Worlds

Hole, er should I say, Courtney Love, as her 3 piece band is just that: a 3 piece band, briefly passed through Toronto this past weekend. By way of 'briefly', I mean she skipped her soundcheck and was a half hour late onstage, and only played a 70 minute set. But what she lacked in timeliness, she and the adoring crowd's appreciation made up for.
Surprisingly not sold out - I guess some grow out of their Miss World outfits, about 75% of the venue's capacity didn't, as the mainly female audience adorned their Miss World crowns in some fashion. (See 1994's Live Through This album cover)

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Love played a unique set bouncing through snipits of 'Pretty on the Inside' to covers of The Rolling Stones and a down tempo version of Nine Inch Nails, 'Closer', to the mandatory 1990s anthems such as 'Violet', 'Plump', 'Miss World' and 'Doll Parts'. To which the crowd sang-a-long to as Love let it rip. Songs off her latest effort in over 10 years, Nobody's Daughter were well appreciated as Love shined, even in between drags off a cigarette. The exception to her efforts was the 3rd song of the night and her latest single, 'Skinny Little Bitch', in which Love barely gave us anything - an unforgivable point in the night, as on disc the song is compelling and raw. Live, it simply fell flat to my disappointment.

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Known for "not knowing what to expect", Love pronounced to the crowd she had recently turned 46 and "wasn't into that anymore". That's not to say she doesn't appreciate it, as the audience tossed at least a dozen bras on stage much to Love's delight as she declared, "that's more than in Nashville."

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Seeing Hole, er, Courtney Love fulfilled a minor dream of mine, as I missed them in their heyday. To me, this was THE most anticipated concert of the summer and overall she didn't disappoint.

What a weekend....Flaming Lips, Metric and Hole.

Words & Photos by Jess Watt

 

 

METRIC get what they give: Stadium Love

Though the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre isn't exactly a stadium, it was Metric's largest show to date in Toronto, and the 'Stadium Love' they brought to its crowds was huge.
Kicking their 90 minute set off with 'Black Sheep', a song released online only earlier this year, the band caught some of us into thinking it was a new track. Nice try guys! Really, it didn't matter what they started with, so long as they just rocked. And rocked out hard is what did with fresh Jimmy Shaw guitar solos, Beastie Boys inspired intro's and some Neil Young, 'Hey Hey, My My, Rock n' Roll will Never Die...' 

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And as if to say they can tone it down when need be, Emily dipped back into her solo release, "Knives Don't Have Your Back" for some 'Doctor Blind'. This was followed by Metric's most mainstream effort to date, 'Eclipse: All Yours', written for the widely popular Twilight Saga's final film, Eclipse. Only this time they upped the ante with a string quartet, along with Emily at the piano. Pure class all the way.

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For those of us who have grown up with Metric and have watched them rise over the years, last night's show added something new: there were kids in attendance. Yes, actual kids, under 10 years old amongst us thirty-somethings. And amongst that there were thousands of guys and girls proudly sporting Metric t-shirts and tank tops, most notably with Emily Haines face on them. I guess the kids are all right. 

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But it wasn't the audience that impressed me most (not that it should ever be), it was Emily, Jimmy, Josh and Joules. On stage the foursome still carries across that genuineness that is often so tried, yet true. Having toured Fantasies well before it was even released in the Spring of 2009, Emily still looks like she's wowed by the audience and having fun, all the while rocking out through their music. You'd think after playing 'Gimme Sympathy' or 'Help I'm Alive', not to mention 2003's 'Dead Disco' they'd grow tired of it. No, Metric tweaks each song a bit, making an "old" song "new" for them to play and for us "veterans" to hear, yet easily recognizable to their newer fans.

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What's next for Metric? Another solid release like "Fantasies" and the proven ability to play to the masses and we'll see Emily strutting her stuff on the stage at the ACC or GM Place. 

Can't wait!

Photos and words by Jess Watt




 

 

Let the confetti fly...it's THE FLAMING LIPS

The show started with a 5-story glowing crotch that inevitably became the door the Flaming Lips entered the stage from. They wasted no time to set ablaze the half-filled Molson Amphitheatre last night in Toronto with psychedelic screens, confetti canons and of course those signature big balloons bouncing through the crowd. 

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Before 'Worm Mountain' the wild and wondrous Wayne Coyne surfed the crowd in his "space bubble" as the guy behind me mentioned "this is what we come for (the show), the music is incidental". But oh contraire mon frere, the music is amazing, though at times overshadowed by the antics. They had an orange cubic stage with orange people this time, Coyne's face screen wide from the camera on his mic and a lot of fun and frolicky things flying out in the crowd for what Wayne Coyne calls the "enthusiastic joy of life!" 

But the music is not to be underestimated, from Floyd-like dream trance to driving galloping beats and thunderous guitar rifts there is some amazing music in there... and all with the fun of the Violent Femmes.  Did I mention, they also just recorded their own version of Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon'.


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As much as they are about childlike fun and adultlike wildness, they are also intelligent and politically conscious. Before the 'Yeah Yeah Yeah' song, Coyne told us he wrote that out of the frustration of having Bush as President, but said for every one time hate he has for the former President, he has 20 times support for Obama. 

Some of the other highlight songs of the night were night were: 'She Don't Use Jelly', 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots part 1' (which usually includes robots), 'In the Morning of the Musicians' and the infamous and uplifting 'Do You Realize?' 

I didn't realize just how great this band actually is so be sure to give them a listen. And definitely try to catch a show, that's an experience all its own, that is sure to make almost anyone smile!


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Happy thoughts from Jenn Good

Photos to make you smile from Jess Watt

 

 

We Want the Funk

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Place des Festivals wraps up the Montreal Jazz festival tonight with a Mardi Gras  parade and one last concert.  Yesterday we caught the last of our shows including the godfather of Funk - George Clinton and his soul collective Parliament Funkadelic.  The show opened with George nowhere in sight, his band pumping up the audience who were chanting "we want the funk". The show was dedicated to "The Montreal Canadians" which perhaps explained the red jersey that threw us all off.  When the guitarist came out looking like George, the photographers snapped and the crowd swelled. But don't be fooled by the glasses or the colourful dread wraps, that was not Clinton. In fact one Montreal journalist reported that George Clinton never came to his own show, but he was there - with short black hair, ball cap and hockey jersey.

 
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Yes that was him, not the usual iconic image we were all accustomed to.               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
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The master of P-Funk which he had written on his cap, conducted things onstage but didn't really do much himself. He sang the odd very synthesized-ladden line, pointed a lot and bossed his band around. His band however, Parliament Funkadelic were amazing, from Melinda Woods to Bootsy Collins and they've even added a bit of Opera to the soul collective. They moved the stage and got the crowd wild for the funk.  At one point, Clinton's granddaughter Sativa interrupted the stage to spit some grimy rap about how she likes the male anatomy.  George eventually took her mic away in mid song.  They played all their classics including 'Cosmic Slots' and 'Flashlight'. It was amazing to be reminded just how many of their songs have been sampled by other artists, especially in hip-hop, like De La Soul who we just saw in Toronto. But George himself seemed to have lost the funk in that show, he almost seemed like he couldn't be bothered to be there.  But the band sure made up for it and rocked the very diverse house down. As did opening act God Made Me Funky from Toronto who call themselves "new funk".

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From God Made Me Funky to Gypsophilia, that seemed the theme of the festival, other than Marti Gras and Gypsy jazz, - that everything classic can be rebuilt and renewed but it always knows where it came from.
 
Just like Jess and Jenn ~ Au Revoir Montreal, Je T'aime!


 

 

Cyndi Lauper Plays to the "Nice North Americans"



That's what the New York native called her sold out audience at Metropolis last night in Montreal. You might wonder what the pop princess of the 80's is doing at a Jazz festival...  but you still turn up to see the show, as 3000 people did.  Cyndi Lauper entered the stage in a leopard skin silk pajama number, with very big hair to tell us she was there to sing The Blues.  She has a new Blues album out this year Memphis Blues which she sampled for us as well as covering a few of the greats including: B.B. King, Albert King and "some guy from Arkansas" who's name she forgot.  She had all the elements of Blues: the band, the songs, the titles, the credible collaborators, the outfit, the moves... but not the pain.  Although Lauper has a great voice that at times was really soaring, she just was not quite convincing as having the blues.  She sounded great though, she has a lot of spunk and flair. But she's just so top of her pop game its hard to breakthrough to a classic and quite different genre that's built on so many years of history.  Perhaps girls that just want to have fun are not suited to also be girls who just want to have pain. Although Cyndi did often mention that Blues are ultimately about breaking through to uplifting, they first have to get down to that deep down sorrow. She really did well though, considering she has such a high candy floss voice, she really brought the soul as best she could. And the crowd ate it up and encouraged her despite the few yell outs for 'Time After Time'.



And she did get around to that in her 3 contrived encores. She told us that Blues had been the basis for "every song she'd ever done"... and that Blues was "The Holy Grail". She played 'Who Let the Rain in?', a song she said she never played enough but was inspired by the rain actually pouring in through a sunroof. Then she pulled out he big guns with 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' which she performed with her opener Dawn Tyler Watson, but it took a much jazzier turn than the original. It had the lyrics of the song, but not the melody, and finished with a major ooh-off with Watson.  Cyndi played all her biggest pop hits in the encore but with a Blues/Jazz flair. She's learned how to play the slide guitar which she says she likes because no one can tell if you've made a mistake. She used it on her last two greats: 'Time After Time' which she said no one wanted her to make so reminded us to always stick to our guns, and final song 'True Colors' which brought tears to eyes.  And before she exited stage left Cyndi Lauper raised her fist and shouted "power to the people".


Festival International de Jazz de Montreal has been a pretty incredible atmosphere all around. Beyond the music and the venues, there is a spirit about  the place that lives on its own.  There are saxophonists by the pool and down below the major stages are adorned with Jazz and Jazz lovers alike.  Every single stage is packed, at all times, all days. That is pretty impressive not to mention rare. We've been to festivals where earlier bands have played to 3 people, including Jess and I.  The other unique and wonderful things we've noticed are: despite the fact that there are crowds above the million mark, we have only seen a handful of police; and the other very french and classy characteristic of many of the venues is the table seating - nice touch.  We've been amazed also at the diversity of the definition of Jazz and all the many things you can do with it.  The classic traditional roots dominate the stages but there is room for many modern and experimental touches that incorporate other genres into Jazz. Like the harmonica-infused, Dylanesque folk of Colin Moore and the pop, electro and tribal elements we have experienced so far.  There have been quite a few pop songs turned Jazz - from Brittany Spears to the late Michael Jackson. But the greats always steal the show - how many of these can you name in the comments? There is a great debate on who is 2nd row on the right...



To see more photos of this event click HERE!

Jenn and Jess a Montreal       









 

 

Hitting the Jazz Halls of Montreal


La Place des Arts was all aglow again, as its stages will be each and every night of the Montreal Jazz Festival but one of tonight's headliners will not even be showing up...

'Rakim', from the golden age of hip hop (and on one of the best hip-hop soundtracks of all time - Juice) was supposed to perform at Club Soda Saturday night in Montreal but his show was cancelled due to "Passport Issues..." However, that gave us an amazing opportunity to discover a new artist and see another great we already knew.  

Bonobo, the melodic, ambient, bass-heavy genius was playing at Metropolis. His dreamstate mutli-instrumental down tempo fare put the full house in a trance.  It's his amazing combination of magical elements that make him so brilliant. Beyond electronic sampling and track layers, Bonobo boasts a full band of guitars, keys, drums, trombone, clarinet and saxophone. Simon Green "Bonobo" is a British dj, music producer and musician himself, with an appreciation of many genres of music that he adds to his sparkling melange.  He takes me back to the time of Zero 7 and Amon Tobin being really huge, and they are all still great.  Check out the song 'Scuba' for the flavour, and 'Stay the Same' which they do with opening act Andreya Triana. Triana is the British Jill Scott, her sultry verve and heavy soul groove were outstanding on their own but played a perfect compliment to the floating ambiance of Bonobo under the signature flood of blue light.



Earlier in the Night over at Club Soda where Rakim was supposed to play later, we discovered an amazing new talent by the name of Elisapie Isaac.  What makes this sparkling gem so unique is though francophone and born in Quebec she also sings in her Inuk mother language Inuktitut.  She is also backed by a string quartet (who were rocking out as string quartets usually don't), a keyboard and the softest electric guitars of all time.  Although I could not understand many words of what she sang, her slow, wispy voice told a story of sound through pure emotion.  She ranged from high coos to low sultry ballads all backed by a beat but without a drum.  She told us stories between every song en francais, which were mostly sad or very serious yet she keeps the twinkle in her eye.  She is very enchanting, sounding a bit Mazzy Star and creates the mood of starlight and beautifully sad lullabies. She recorded her first solo album this year, which is very fittingly is entitled 'There Will Be Stars'.

by Jenn Good