Ben Lee @ The Reverb
Mark Seymore fans - most of which were my parents age, but I guess that's beside the point - consisted mainly of blonde business execs dressed in black holding glasses, swaying alongside their jock-in-high-school husbands. There was most definitely a connection made between Seymore and his admiring fans. Then, the last song was over, and the younger crowd moved up to the front.
Ben Lee, 26, looks so comfortable performing, you can tell he practically grew up on stage. Fellow Australian Lara Meyerratken accompanied Lee's acoustic guitar playing, as she played keyboards and sung pretty backups. Lee opened with "Whatever It Is" - a soft ballad about doing things in life that someone else perhaps doesn't want you to do. Lee played other new tracks off his new album "Awake is the New Sleep", including "Catch My Disease", "Gamble Everything For Love", and "No Right Angles".
Two voices blended the whole night perfectly, but Lee explained that sometimes he likes to mix things up when performing. For instance, Lee asked the crowd for any requests and many wanted him to play his 2002 hit "Chills". Lee couldn't remember the exact order of chords and messed up three or four times before getting it right. Meyerratken played a keyboard solo and-a-half, because Lee put the spotlight on her to play it again.
The most interesting part of the night was when they covered a song named "Matthew Modine" by Pony Up - an all-girl band from Montreal who is the first artist signed on Lee's record label, Ten Fingers. The song is about the band's infatuation with an actor and the lyrics are hilarious, ending with: "Oh Matthew Modine, you make my dreams creamy."
It's great to see musicians have fun on stage, because it just relaxes the audience even more. Lee smiled the whole night and enjoyed himself in Toronto, as he said he always does.
The Golden Dogs @ Lee's Palace
The Golden Dogs have been getting all the buzz lately. After seeing them play, it is understandable why, as they are both hyperactive and unforgettable. Once you see this band, you don't forget about them, in fact you become obsessed. I am currently in a Golden Dog rehabilitation centre, because I just can't get enough of them.
Lead singer/guitarist Dave Azzolini walked on the stage playing a ukulele, singing softly, and then pretended to smash the ukulele all over the stage. Already my impression of Azzolini was that he is insane.
The rest of the band came out and keyboardist/backup vocalist Jessica Grassia had over-sized cue cards sitting on her keyboard displaying the names of each song. They started off with "Birdsong", which is the first track off their 2004 release "Everything in 3 Parts".
Most of The Golden Dogs' songs are fast paced with bass lines that make you want to move and the fans on the floor were doing just that. When they played crowd favourite "Can't Get Your Face Out of My Head", everyone was in a euphoric state while bouncing their heads around and crisscrossing their bodies.
The Golden Dogs are a tight band and look natural playing music together. In the middle of the song "1985", the band stopped playing and keyboardist Grassia said into the microphone, "I need a drink" and then played a solo. The rest of the band started rocking out again.
Azzolini's stage presence is fanatical with a nervous energy that resembles late '70s rock Talking Heads' former lead singer David Byrne. If he is not jumping or kicking, he's using facial expressions and wailing on his guitar, singing his heart out, spraying his spit all over the first row's faces. Now that's what music is all about!
I had never heard The Golden Dogs prior to this evening and I must say they were a mind-boggling surprise. This was the best performance I saw at Canadian Music Week, as The Golden Dogs are a tough performance to beat.
The Marble Index @ Lee's Palace
The night was beginning to wind down when Hamilton's The Marble Index took the stage. Lead singer Brad Germain seemed uneasy when some audience members stayed in their seats instead of joining the dance party up front. Let's just say The Marble Index had more energy than the crowd.
Germain came around the side of the stage and into the crowd in an attempt to get everyone moving. In the middle of the dance floor, Germain showed off his Bruce Spingsteen moves, clapping and twisting to the steady beat bass player Ryan Tweedle and drummer Adam Knickle were playing. Girls in the audience moved more toward the middle to be closer to Germain; in fact some girls became a bit aggressive trying to dance with the suave singer.
The Marble Index played well-known tracks from their self-titled album "I Believe", "On The Phone", and "Not So Bright". Fans enjoyed the upbeat songs, as they bopped their heads and danced. Germain is a vigorous performer, as he would go from one side of the stage to the other, playing guitar and singing his heart out. Germain sings with a light rasp and when he hits the high notes of a song, his vocals charm.
The press has often compared The Marble Index to NYC's trendsetters The Strokes. There is a similarity in attitudes, as both bands have erratic, tough-guy personas. However, The Marble Index establish an energetic, in-your-face live performance. They aren't there to bore you or play a second-rate show, they want to rock and that's what they did.
Writer: Mindi St. Amand