YELLOW OSTRICH

Tonight, i’m seeing Sharon Van Etten and Tennis, but a lot of me wishes I could be at the Yellow Ostrich gig at the Drake. I just missed em’ at Sasquatch and here I am with a second chance this year, missed. Sigh.

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Jenn Grant (which diverged into Sarah Polley’s film ‘Take This Waltz’)

Gearing up for Hillside and all I can think about is the lovely Jenn Grant who is not playing this year.

Grant’s probably hidden away in all her marital bliss. Interesting enough Grant’s new hubby Daniel Ledwell is in Kathleen Edwards band (who is in fact playing Hillside this year).

I adore creative couples…!!!!

Grant and Ledwell making music

Grant’s wedding photo from this website

Also, the use of Grant’s tune “Parachutes” was used ever so eloquently in Sarah Polley’sTake This Waltz. I was a little crushed not to see it used in the movie. The tune is way too fun to actually be used in the film.

How come ever other country had amazing posters for this film? And ours was mediocre!

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I adore this scene, it is definitely my summer inspiration:

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Best Coast at the Phoenix; Saturday July 21, 2012

Half way into the show, Best Coast sported, in my opinion, their very finest tune “Our Deal.” I have the loveliest memories blaring this song on a mid-sized car that I rented in California just over a year ago, hanging on to every word. A few months later, the tune had a music video made directed by auteur Drew Barrymore. The terrific video features a ton of Hollywood’s finest young faces in a short that fuses together Romeo and Juliet with Grease. After play the first few notes, lights were shon on the large disco ball that probably spends more time collecting dust than in rotation. However for this four minute song, the room absolutely sparkled.

It’s not very often I can say that I went to a girl-charged show. Without contestation there were more gals in the Phoenix than the fellas. I have never really looked at Best Coast as a girl band, they’re sort of edgy and all of my garage/low-fi loving boy pals dig Best Coast tunes. I found myself quite amused by the predominantly female crowd.

Best Coast is a band that has three sometimes more members. The two forever figures are lead singer and guitarist Bethany Cosentino and multi-instrumentalist Bob Bruno. It’s been interesting to see the band flip flop their band members, but also expand in numbers. My one criticism from seeing them just over a year ago was that their sound as a trio was too bare, as they often played without a bass guitar. Seeing them as a four piece really worked this time around. Cosentino introduced their bass guitarist as a Toronto native – the crowd cheered in response. Cosentino spent a good chunk of the show rattling her pal and guitarist Bob Bruno. She put forth a huge effort to include him, making Best Coast more of a band rather than a solo project with a band’s name. Although he lightly took it from her, Bob Bruno was not having any of it.

I was happy to hear that Cosentino’s voice was strong at this gig. Often falling flat, her vocals for the most party were spot on with what appears on the album. She did a nice job juggling between the band’s two albums in chunks, first a few songs off from Crazy For You and then a few off of The Only Place. While there’s much talk about the band’s sound changing, I feel like they very seamlessly made a sophomore album that compliments the former quite nicely.

Cosentino is extremely sassy. She seems incredibly comfortable being in front of a crowd. She’s blunt and isn’t afraid to point out the obvious. Over the last year she’s become Urban Outfitter’s new edgy it-girl and clothing designer of a new line for a company. Part way through the gig, Cosentino asked the crowd why no one was moving. I felt a little uneasy too as I was flailing in the back half of the venue as I would at home. Toronto’s indie rock scene definitely has some very ice cold crowds and Best Coast’s music is fun and meant to be danced to.

I had to skip out just before their encore to catch an early bus home, but had myself a lovely time with the California surf rockers.

Andrew Bird at Echo Beach; Thursday July 17, 2012

The first time I saw Andrew Bird it was fall of 2007, just shortly after his lush album Armchair Apocrypha was released earlier that year. It was one of my first solo jaunts as a true resident of Toronto, I was in the good company of Plato’s Republic, for which I was reading for a political theory course at the university. I remember sitting at the side of the stage trying to sneak glances at the book, each time the coloured concert lights would swirl around the building.

For some reason Bird never attracts the crowds that I truly think he should. I feel as though I meet more and more people that are in awe of what he does rather than be a true fan of the masterpieces he releases every few years. If you’re unaware of the works of Andrew Bird, his act is so stunning because he sings, plays violin and whistles. Bird was musically trained in the Suzuki method, which starts children off by learning music by ear over reading music. Later down the road Bird graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in violin performance. Listening to Bird both recorded and live very clearly suggests that Bird is by no means lacking in the talent department, he is incontestably a brilliant musician.

I decided to go to this show pretty last minute because of my wryness towards the new Toronto venue Echo Beach. In April of this year, I watched his performance at Coachella through the live stream and I found myself completely in awe of his late day set. He did an absolutely dazzling cover of The Muppets’ “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” It was after viewing that performance that I purchased a copy of the near-perfect album Break It Yourself. However with a bit of free time and a lot of love for his new album, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see him bring this album to life.

I arrived in a huff part way through Bird’s set due to the confusing layout of the venue. It was just before 9pm and I had the absolute pleasure of seeing an orange sky on the Toronto’s skyline. The Ontario Place website is correct in claiming that there really is a “spectacular view of the downtown Toronto skyline.” A view you rarely get to see in focus and not zooming down the Gardiner Expressway.

Echo Beach, according to the Ontario Place website is a “fully-licensed outdoor beach concert venue.” The venues essentially an oversized adult sandbox fit for 5,000 people. Nothing about it suggests beach, or the exotic summer lifestyle that it tries to emulate. However as the little sister to the Molson Amphitheatre, it really is a stunning, small contribution to the concert life of Toronto. I am the first to welcome small-ish venues to divert medium-popular bands from playing the horrid Sound Academy.

Bird’s sound is hard to peg down as he started as a classically trained musician and moved towards more jazzy sounds, while his more recent albums boast a lush pop sound. At this gig, Bird and company unveiled a bluegrass-folk sound that he first eased the audience in with a performance of the tune “Lusitania.” The tune which is from his most recent release Break It Yourself was recording in studio with the ever lovely Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent). It’s an odd spot for her in a tune because it’s so unlike her own music. It’s the lovely laid back stuff you’d picture a gal like her performing. For his live performance, Bird sung the vocal parts all himself. I recently learned that while this song just only recently appeared on his new album, he’s been playing the tune live for a few years.

Nearly pushing forty, Bird looked as dapper as he did five years back. At the beginning of the gig he made a few remarks about how awful his day was. Eventually loosening up, he told the crowd that he had his bike stolen from his hotel in Toronto earlier that day. Very sombrely, he told the audience that things are looking up.

I’m not sure how I will receive his new bluegrass sound, I sure find myself at home with his warm pop tunes, both live and studio.

Bill Murray House Party

Throughout the month of August, Bill Murray has set out a series of house party dates. The arrangement is that for him to drop in on your party, you must have karaoke and a very distinct sign that indicates he is welcome to crash.

See his advertisement below:

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I can’t help but think of the Varsity (University of Toronto paper) party that actor Woody Harrleson crashed. While I wasn’t at the party, I was sure envious of the photos my friend and photographer Tom Cardoso captured.