Updated: Apr 4
Welcome to the 3rd installment in Splendid Industries' ongoing series of live reviews featuring the amazing artists of The Peanut Gallery! In this edition we look back at a diverse line-up including two PG acts sandwiched in the middle -- so without further ado...
The first act was a new band named Bingo Day. I can't comment too thoroughly on what was witnessed because while they performed I was stuck on Dundas St. behind a garbage truck. Woe is me, but the last 30 secs of their final song gave me the distinct impression of a cool indie rock band.
Anyhoo, the show really started for me when Animatist hit the stage. Having been a fan of this band since discovering their excellent album Face Club (2017), I was super-excited to hear absolutely none of the music with which I was familiar and instead treated to an entirely new set of songs! Of course, the band did not disappoint; the new songs are amazing! You can clearly hear the evolution in their sound and propensity for complex yet intuitive compositions as they take you through earth-penetrating rhythmic cycles and beautiful/abrasive textures. With their combo of sax/synth (Danielle Fernandes) & guitar/synth (Brent O'Toole) weaving around atop the solid foundation formed by Steve Cook (bass) & Ian Hinds (drums/percussion), this band rips through bobble-head math-rock grooves interwoven with post-rock atmospherics and minimalist tendencies belied only by the energy of the performance.
The set I witnessed was of the sort to put me into an awesome kind of trance -- eyes closed, head nodding, foot tapping, oscillating in polyrhythm -- all the good stuff that's only possible when the band is tight! I credit the minds behind the movement for arranging such engaging pieces of music, and having the ability to absolutely nail it live! From what I already knew about the band, I had high expectations, but what I encountered that night exceeded any prior notion. After the performance, those with whom I attended the show shared similar impressions, as I'm sure the whole room would concur: Animatist is rad AF, y'all! This is absolutely mindbowling stuff!
Next up: Waxlimbs!
This is a band I've been waiting to see since my introduction to their album For Science! (2017). (Check out our full review here!) Aside from amazing music, of particular fascination in a live context is the group's unique image with their delicate origami-like masks and integrated LED backdrop. Lead by Alex Metcalfe (bass/vox), the group has grown over the years to include Paul Geldart (also of Other Families) on drums, and more recently Olivia Cox & Will Jarvis (keys/vox & guitar/vox, respectively). The implementation of 3 voices allows for lovely bits of contrast between pieces which already include plenty; from subtly jazzy passages or glitched avant-pop to intense punk/metal exclamation points, the music is not really bound by genre and the set was extremely well-paced.
Featuring new music from their (at the time) soon to be released album, The Autumn Bell, I've been happily anticipating new material from Waxlimbs. (Btw, the new album is fantastic, so just click on the player below to buy your digital copy now!) The most apparent strength of the band's output is the captivating nature and congruity of their sound. Deep, contemplative lyrics and a sensitivity toward developing the music in-step with emotional bursts and quiet reflection speak volumes regarding the tact of the musicians and the songwriting skill at play. While the music may traverse different realms and transcend genre, the thematic consistency is remarkable. Everything locks and the result is a powerfully unified statement which should envelop any willing audience who may come into contact.
The thing with bands who utilize aesthetics so keenly is that the audience tends to become transfixed by the sensory information being projected from the stage. It is a mesmerizing experience, one I'm thrilled/chilled to have been a part!
Last up: Freedom Baby!
A new discovery as a result of this very show, I checked out some of Freedom Baby's music prior to the show and was impressed by the niceness and expansive nature of their über-friendly compositions. Finely-crafted pieces of singalong indie-rock translated well in a live setting, as one would expect. There is a respectable degree of movement within the songs that makes for more than mere surface-level listening experience. I mean, their tune I Want To Give is over 14 damn minutes, so it really better do more than typical verse-chorus-rpt structure, and it does. Really, the big impression I was left with and the most apt description I can muster is: Freedom Baby is kinda like a cheery sunshine-lollipops version of Arcade Fire...and I think that's probably pretty close to what they're aiming for.
Also worthy of mention is the clever and funny banter that takes place between members of the band (soooo many members, fyi, like a smiling army of nice human_people) and the audience. This serves to make the band even more endearing than they already are. These seem like some genuine human_folks, so it was a welcome bit of news announced during the performance that they had just hit the big-time with a brand new international record label deal! I trust word of Freedom Baby will spread fast as the potential exists for these folks to achieve legitimate fame. At the very least they are a band who do what they do extremely well, so my guess is they'll be just fine.
As for the venue: Monarch Tavern is a great place for this type of event -- cozy and good atmosphere, good sound, great vibe! Would attend shows there in future! TO needs more places like this!
This was a show of hi-quality acts from top to bottom (kudos all around!), though it was a bit of a jumbled line-up. Sorta seemed like half of two different shows put together, with Freedom Baby + Bingo Day making up one half, and Animatist + Waxlimbs the other. The disappointing effect of this was Freedom Baby playing to a smaller audience, the crowd having thinned considerably once Waxlimbs had wrapped up their set. Just another argument for cohesive bills comprised of complimentary bands, I guess. Someone should really get on that, I mean, wouldn't that just be splendid?