Critical Masses

Soul Shine's All 4 Indie
Horseshoe Tavern
February 17, 2005
The inaugural All 4 Indie concert from Soul Shine wasn't just an exercise in mutual stroking; it was an exercise in compassion. With proceeds going to the P.A.O.C.'s Emergency Relief and Development (E.R.D.O.) branch for the victims of the Tsunami, the Horseshoe stage packed to the gills with guitars, it promised to be a noisy evening of both goop and gratitude.

Afflatus hit the stage first and although the raspy tones of lead growler Jeff Beadle sounded positively husked (Beadle confirmed this was a result of some "stupid sh*t" he'd engaged in during the week), his backers more than made up the difference with their slam dunk grooves. Eschewing the beach tunes that were once their bread and peanut butter, the maturation of the band was pretty clear as their closed fist structures have begun to tip toe into Steely Dan territory. High precision indeed!

Showroom mightn't have brought the funk, but like Afflatus before them, they too seem to have sprouted additional chops from new and interesting orifices. Yes, Ben Hutchinson is still one of Toronto's top side-splitting frontman but in terms of the new tunes unveiled, Showroom showed a new found attention to the dance floor, trotting out highly movable melodies with alarming frequency. Still, there's no topping the sheer pissoire goodness of "The Residence of Ben", all soda pop and wax beans÷ in aural form, of course.

Leviride might be one of Toronto's most active gigging bands but they're reliable for a good sonic flogging if nothing else. Definitely the most rocking act on the bill, Leviride's feedback squalls and curdled song structures were impressive to say the least. Actually, I'd like to see Leviride turn more experimental in their approach because they've got some delightfully detuned guitars that could really wank their sound into totally tubular territory.

Turn Off The Stars closed things out and they're a whole lot less precious than their CD Everything is OK would lead you to believe. Sure, they're still up to the their knuckles in U2-isms but it's pretty tough to deny their musicality. Alternating between acoustic-tempered sub-stadium rock and noisier shoegaze-y type stuff, TOTS (cool acronym BTW) were nothing if not reliable. Even when the axe of their second guitarist crapped out towards sets end, the deal was done and they had covered the retainer of their headline spot call.

Writer: Cameron Gordon

Photo:Paul Whitfield

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