>FINALLY! I have seen Sandro Perri play a small but full concert set! It has been three years in the making and I couldn’t have rested in a finer place. Tonight’s gig was at the very beautiful Music Gallery a tiny church hidden between the elite artist world of McCaul and Dundas and the buzz of Queen Street centre. Most fail to notice its presence but the Music Gallery is fully functioning and attracting greater, more diverse crowds.
I first dipped into Sandro Perri when a co-worker at the record store I use to work at insisted it was on her list of best of 2007. At the time I contested because I hadn’t even heard of the guy. I’m pretty excited to say that I feel as though I have a good grasp on his music from all of his material I have slowly accumulated over the years.
I bought Tiny Mirrors about two years ago now after borrowing a friend’s copy. It’s a very minimal album that really shows how little can come across a lot bigger than one would expect. That’s sort of the magical key to Perri’s sound – it’s so god damn quiet it’s practically music for the dead, or sleepy.
I remember I was playing his most accessible song “Double Suicide” a few years back and an old housemate told me it sounded like a dying cat. We didn’t really get on too, too well musically… That memory came to me this show and although I took offensively then, I couldn’t help but laugh when the dying cat bit was played live perfectly.
Sandro Perri’s perfect sound is largely buffered by the Toronto-based musician Ryan Driver
. Driver is a very underrated local musician, he’s played with Castlemusic and as the mate to Sandro Perri’s side project titled ‘Double Suicide’ – which I’m not sure ever really took off…
I was introduced to this side of Toronto music about three years ago when I dove into Sandro Perri. It’s really amazing that there is a growing community that has sprouted out, very subtly, finding homes in less frequented venues like the Tranzac, the Dakota and the Piston. I had the pleasure of full immersion into these bands at the Steamboat record release party at Sneaky Dee’s last summer. This show featured Alex Lukashevsky, Old Man Luedecke, Sandro Perri, $100 and Andre Ethier all backed up by Steamboat. At this show, Sandro only played a couple of tunes…
I was pretty stunned by Driver’s presence, he spent the entire gig crunched up with his legs folded beneath his bottom. A stance that made me think of the ’90s band Sparklehorse’s lead singer who had lost his legs by staying in that position overnight. Driver bounced back and forth between the flute and a synthesizer keypad. Perri’s music is weird, and I think his weird sound is really perfected by Driver’s input into his tunes. Perri and Driver and an incredible ability to communicate with each other musically perfectly duplicating a sound I thought was solely studio crafted.
Despite his horrible posture, Driver is a brilliant flute player. I was stunned that he was sporting an open holed flute, which essentially is a more advanced set up where there are holes on the buttons that are to be blocked by the player’s fingers. It’s extremely difficult to play because the player beyond just pressing the key actually has to cover the hole with his or her fingers. The sound is much better with an open holed flute. He played the flute on close to all the songs, with the exception of the first song played which was his most accessible song “Double Suicide.” He introduced the tune by saying: “This is an old one…” It sounded exactly like the album version, to a tee. Dead cats and all, compliments of Ryan Driver.
I was a little surprised by the set’s length, it was just too short. I also only knew one song, the opening tune… They played a ton of new material.
I almost felt the opening act played a set that was more closer appropriate.
The opening act was Siskiyou
, lead by a former member of the Great Lake Swimmers named Colin Huebert. His very simple sound and shaky halloween like vocals are backed up by a completely stunning band. The guitarist and banjo player, Erik Arnesen still plays with the Great Lake Swimmers. The drummer Shaunn Watt is absolutely charming on stage, his presence really dazzles the stage. And at the very opposite end of the spectrum, bass guitar/guitarist Peter Carruthers was very inanimate and solemn.
The music was a bit dull at times, but really knew how to pick up. I felt they were at most ease playing covers – their sound felt a lot fuller and lively. Perhaps they were trying to give the tunes the justice they deserved when revisited. They played a great version of a Peruvian folk song that was covered by Simon and Garfunkel in the 1970. I’m pretty certain that the tune they played was “El Condor Pasa (If I Could),” hearing new songs live is always a tricky thing because you remember ringer words only. My ringer word was sparrow and I knew it was a Peruvian folk tune. It must’ve been this one, originally written by Daniel Almoia Robles
. Huebert very modestly introduced the song by saying they were going to play a cover of a Peruvian folk tune, which was also a tune by Simon and Garfunkel – whichever way we chose to understand the song as.
Here’s another gem that I found by Simon and Garfunkel containing the word “sparrow.”
They played a very wonky revision of “This Land is Your Land” that they titled “This Land.” It has slow verses and a booming distinct chorus.
They played a very short encore of about a minute covering a Guided By Voices tune, a band I’m not too familiar with… Huebert very modestly apologised for playing it wrong… Clearly a last minute improv bit.
I like this band’s lazy approach. Huebert recorded songs minutes after they were conceived, with little opportunity to go back and alter. These tunes are fresh and on the spot, a kind of lively approach that I felt their live show really needed.
They have an erie sound that seems like it would grow in popularity the way Timber Timbre did two winters ago. If Timber Timbre has a winter sound, this band is definitely and very appropriately a fall band. It’s sort of funny, I saw both bands play the Music Gallery, good music, good taste.