CBC Radio 3 - Connect The Dots Tour

The/P:ano/Ninja High School Russian Futurists
Drake Hotel
May 7, 2004
The CBC Radio 3 - Connect The Dots tour blew into Toronto for the weekend and took up residency in the newly-foppish Drake Hotel. Squirreled away in the basement as not to disturb the swank corporate affair unfolding on the main floor, the event had the feel of a disjointed suburban basement party, based on the diverse clientele and even more diverse musical line-up.

Ninja High School were up first and right of the bat, they opted to eschew the stage in favour of the dance floor down front. The Toronto four-piece bounced and toasted their way through a selection of grungy prefab backing tracks and hyped the crowd with their lively chanting and between song banter. Many of the songs devolved into shouting matches with spells of what I think was simply blowing into the mic but overall, the energetic crew entertained with their whitebread hip hop stylings and frat boy idiocy.

After a prolonged delay, P:ano hit the stage and chugged their way through a set of folk-glazed pop coated with an omniscient electric hum. Stylistically, these guys were all over the place. While they started out with some pretty pedestrian strummers, each subsequent effort seemed to morph into a beast quite it's own. The boy/girl vocals were cute and they were just weird enough to make it tough to look away. Shades of the B-52s, Helium, Belle and Sebastian, X, Talking Heads and several other dissimilar bands but by the same token, not really similar to those or anyone else for that matter. Unsettling stuff! And maybe it was just me but the drummer seemed a whole lot older than his bandmates.

Nobody will ever mistake The Russian Futurists for Godley & CrĖme but their Zion-ist slant on electro-pop went over fairly well. Decked out in their Sunday best, the Futurists struck a pose and stuck with it. In fairness, it's not really the type of music that always translates well in person but they managed to compress enough bleeps and bloops into their set to make it worthwhile. The crowd had fleshed out a bit more by this point and that seemed to be the shot in the arm the Futurists needed to take flight. Or at least they appeared to be flying.

Writer: Cameron Gordon

Photo:Russell Monk

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