I co-hosted a house show last night in which Maids, Vacation Dad, and Born Gold played. It was phenomenal.
Put this on your Halloween playlist.
I got back from the Austra show a little while ago and I’m actually going to review it for real. Shocking— I know. I haven’t done a review for my own blog in quite some time. I decided to ditch the scoring format. It felt a little to pitchfork-y and there’s much more to a show than its relative “score”. Anywho, I’m back. Let’s dig in.
I didn’t actually see Diana, the band that opened for Austra, because I was helping Jared/Under The Microscope interview Austra. I played camerperson. I’ll be sure to post the video of the interview here when it comes out. A note about Diana though: they are also from Toronto and have been involved in several other projects including Army Girls, Doldrums, Destroyer, and more.
Now for the set that I actually saw. Austra (whose name I learned is pronouced ow-stra and not ah-stra) is a band from Toronto comprised of Katie Stelmanis, Romy and Sari Lightman, Maya Postepski, Dorian Wolf, and Ryan Wonsiak. Pushing past the stuff that you can find on their wikipedia page though, Austra is also a Canadian band whose musical doings— much like those of Diana— are woven throughout the Canadian music scene. The list of side and previous projects of the band members is pretty extensive to I won’t take the time to mark them all down here, but it reflects the community feeling that I’ve seen in the Canadian music scene.
I’m trying to not sound like I’m reaching really far for this transition, but the show itself had a pretty communal feeling as well. By the time our interview was over and we headed to the venue, the floor was already full with people. Me and a few friends managed to cram ourselves in front of the half-moon railing bordering the floor. I mean, touching other peoples’ butts by accident because everyone is so physically close is what happens in a tight-knit community, right?
Katie managed to draw everyone emotionally together as well, by bringing a powerful and fluid energy to the stage. Her voice holds up really well live, which I feel is especially important for a band like Austra where the vocals are (perceived by me to be) a key part of most of the songs. The only judgment I have regarding Katie’s voice is that— whether it was the way she was singing or something with the microphone setup— a lot of the middle and higher notes that she hit were drowned out. With the risk of sounding too techy, I’m going to say that it’s possible the mic was pre-set to roll off mid-high frequencies and that’s what created the effect. Who knows. (Yeah, I took a production class this summer. Look at all of my new knowledge).
As is to be expected, the setlist consisted largely of songs off of their newest album, Olympia. There were, however, a few additions from their “freshman” effort. They included quote-unquote “hits” like “Lose It”, “Beat and the Pulse”, “Spellwork”, and “The Choke”. I was slightly upset that they didn’t play “The Noise” though, because I feel like it’s one of the more emotionally powerful songs on the album. You can’t always get what you want. (EDIT: In the interview before the show we asked Austra what the process of getting “Spellwork” translated into Simlish was like, and maybe it was just me but I think maybe Katie sang it in Simlish during the show?? I think I saw some conspiratorial smiles going on in the band during that song. I don’t know the song’s actual lyrics very well though… what do you guys think?)
The crowd seemed to be largely familiar with the band’s discography. Or maybe they weren’t but danced just because. In any case, the overall energy was high, and people seemed to be pretty pumped by the show. To insert a nugget of knowledge though, I heard on NPR that the loudness and length of a crowd’s clapping/cheering actually has little to do with the quality of the performance. Austra were still really good though in my humble opinion. (I just typed “humble” as “humblr.” Tumblr lyfstyle 4 eva).Katie captivated and enchanted with her rich vocals, and the band did a great job of reflecting her energy. Sure, the tempo was out of synch here and there and a stray sour note escaped from Katie’s vocal cords once or twice, but perfection is overrated.
After my first Austra show, I recommend seeing them live. I’ve heard from two people now that think that they’re “good for what they are”. But I think they’re better than that. Well, be your own judge.
(Political extra note deal: At one point in the show Katie asked for the lights facing the band to be turned off, at which point a male (and I don’t know his/their preferred pronouns but for simplicity’s sake, he/they are male) audience member did a oww-OWWWW kind of catcall. I just, ugh. Sexism is still happening. That is all.)
Sorry that it has been so long you guys, I haven’t been to many concerts and I’ve been traveling a ton. I’m seeing Moon King and Majical Cloudz this week though :D
"Woodpact" off of Born Gold’s first album, Neon Graveyard
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I just wanted to make a quick post about these guys. I’ve known of them for a while, but more recently have they become one of my favourite acts. Devon’s voice, especially on their newer tracks, is so emotive and full. And the lyrics are full as well— they just brim with powerful feelings. Gah. Matthew Otto’s clean backing and loops just add so many simple layers to their music. I dig the new stuff from Impersonator so much and I’m really looking forward to its release. Please, check them out if you haven’t already.