March 4, 2004 - 8pm
What's not to like here? Winnipeg's tunesmith Derek Miller displayed impressible pipes and chops aplenty and was really only victimized by an early-evening timeslot. No matter, he put in a solid set of catchy lil numbers that certainly left an impression on his audience. His music blended elements of folk, roots, rock and several non-descript adjectives, delivered with spirit and love. In addition, Miller seemed like a very down-to-earth fella and this always helps build that ole rapport. Did I mention he plays a mean guitar? It was finger-picking good.
March 4, 2004 - 10:15pm
My first impression of Toronto's Phauna was that they looked like a reincarnated Bourbon Tabernacle Choir. Guys and girls on-stage with guitars and flutes and trumpets and the like. Yeah.! Unfortunately, I was disappointed to discover that this band weren't packing the brand of organic soul that the Bourbons were famous for. Considering that they have six players on stage, it was a disappointment that the band seemed content to mime along to some heavily mixed backing tracks and essentially bury their horns and guitars. Maybe I was seeing things but I'm pretty sure I caught their trumpet player miss his cue on at least three or four occasions. Too bad really, because Phauna's solid blend of soul, jazz and rock sounded pretty inviting to these ears.
El Mocambo - Downstairs
March 5, 2004 - 8:00pm
Oh Susanna took one for the team on this night. The Vancouver-based singer/songwriter made do with an early evening timeslot and even cut her set short by a song to keep the rest of the bill on schedule. What a trooper! It was unfortunate really, because her booming voice and country-tinged rockers obviously had the packed El Mo firmly within her grips. The strength of the performance was the level of continuity between her and her solid backing band. They knew when to twang out and then when to back off and allow Susanna's voice to fill up the space. And by the looks on the faces of all involved, they were enjoying themselves as well. This was Oh Susanna's very own torch song trilogyÖ although she actually played four songs.
El Mocambo - Upstairs
March 5, 2004 - 1:00am
What is space rock anyway? Blissed out guitars, electronic fills, dischordia, confusion, etc. If any/all of the above indicators are true, then Audiosleep are space rock because they possess all in droves. Audiosleep are space rock. Ok. The well-orchestrated pieces put together by this Toronto band seemed to perfectly capture the nuances of this late night appearance at the El Mocambo, regardless of what the tedium of the crowd would lead you to believe otherwise. Just when the music would ease off and settle into more of an ambient groove, another swell would hit, eardrums would buzz and vertigo would sink in. They might look a bit weird but Audiosleep's greatest strength is its ability to turn simple building blocks like standard drum beats and guitars into these epic sound structures that widely outdistance the sum of their partóthe musical equivalent of turning horse (manure) into strawberry shortcake. Audiosleep are a definite timeslot hit. Coming soon to a brainwave near you.
Writer: Cameron Gordon