Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Growlers @ The Opera House

The Band: Brooks Nielsen (Vocals), Matt Taylor (Lead Guitar), Kyle Straka (Keyboards/Guitar), Anthony Braun Perry (Bass)

The Growlers
Photos by Danielle Burton
       Friday night walking along Queen Street East, I heard the familiar surf-reggae twang of The Growlers 'Going Gets Tough' wafting out of a crowded bar and onto the sidewalk. I made the journey over the Don Valley to catch the band's only Canadian date this tour at The Opera House. Approaching the venue, I noticed a long line of fans snaking around the corner of the building and down a side street, disappearing behind The Growlers' gargantuan tour bus. The band has come a long way since I first saw them almost exactly three years ago at a Burger Records showcase at Lee's Palace in October 2013. Back then, the band was touring in a caravan of underground rock with fellow SoCal cohorts Gap DreamCosmonauts and Together Pangea. Toronto's own Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs even opened the show. Now their cult following has grown enough to sell out a venue twice the size with just them on the bill.
       Their fifth studio album City Club is due out this Friday, September 30th on Cult Records, produced by none other than Julian Casablancas. The band's sound has always been hard to pin down, often cited as a unique blend somewhere between country, surf, pop, punk, psych, etc. The title track 'City Club', which premiered on Casablancas' monthly radio show Culture Void on Sirius XMU, seems to move away from their signature 'beach goth' surf vibe and expands on the disco element they experimented with on 'Chinese Fountain'. Casablancas' influence is clear on this song and as the first few chords ring out followed by distorted vocals, the song could easily fit in with one of The Strokes' later albums or even Casablancas' solo album. I'm excited to hear what they've done with the rest of City Club.


       Friday night's show was a typical Growlers party, with everyone excited, engaged and dancing all night long. The lack of an opening act made no difference since the crowd was already so excited for The Growlers they would cheer at the glimpse of any guitar tech or security guard that graced the stage even for a second. When the band finally appeared in matching white embroidered western suits, the room exploded. The floor was so tightly packed it was impossible not to move with the rhythm of the people. Sometimes it was even hard to hear Brooks Nielsen's vocals over the crowd singing and shouting along with every word. It was just a non-stop ball of energy and excitement from start to finish. From the balcony, the pit looked like a mess of bobbing heads and arms flung to the sky in ecstasy. 
       By mid-show, the sea of fans became the perfect ground for crowd surfing, with at least two or three people up at a time and Brooks offering encouragement between songs. The security guard drew the line at stage diving, but as he escorted people off stage to the right, more would jump up to playfully taunt him before falling back into the crowd. It was by far one of the most fun shows I've been to in a while. No opening act also meant we got more time with The Growlers and the band played for almost two full hours. The band finished their set with one of their earlier songs, 'Someday', but there was no way that crowd was letting them go just yet. The band came back for a three-song encore, with Brooks informing the crowd "You guys were chanting for one more song. Well, there's a couple more for ya!". My night ended just as it began, with The Growlers playing 'Going Gets Tough' and before I knew it, I was back on Queen Street East.
        I try to see The Growlers every time they come to town and if you haven't yet, you should definitely check them out next time they're around. Tour dates and tickets for this fall can be found here, including their annual Beach Goth festival in California, which has one of the coolest and most original lineups of any festival out there. And don't forget to pick up City Club this Friday at your friendly neighbourhood record store!

Article and photos by Danielle Burton.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The 2016 Hilton Concert Series: Tegan and Sara

            In 2015, Hilton partnered with Live Nation to bring their Hilton hHonors loyalty club members unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The 2016 Hilton Concert Series kicked off in February and the fourth event, an exclusive concert with Canadian indie-pop duo Tegan and Sara, was held at Hilton Toronto on Saturday night. Hilton HHonors members and guests were treated to the full VIP experience from the moment they arrived. After confirming their name on the guest list, guests were handed wristbands and laminates as they descended an escalator into the club-like atmosphere of the private cocktail reception. The room was buzzing as people enjoyed complimentary food and drinks, a red carpet photo op, and music by a live DJ. However, it quickly cleared out when opening act Jr. Jr. took the stage shortly after 8 pm.
  
         
The stage was set up in one of the adjacent conference rooms, which had been converted into an intimate concert venue for the evening. There were even two large screens on either side of the stage broadcasting the performance, although there wasn't a bad view from anywhere in the room. However, the sound left a lot to be desired. As I entered the room from the back, multi-instrumentalist and singer Joshua Epsteins vocals were all but drowned out by the heavy lows of the bass and kick drum. The crowd of fans that stood between myself and the speakers, may have also been a factor, because the sound seemed to improve as I made my way closer to the stage.

Photo by: Danielle Burton
            Jr. Jr. (FKA Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.) is a band from Detroit, Michigan, formed in 2009 by Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott. Their set consisted of mostly mellow indie-pop with a few upbeat tunes that kept the crowd interested and was a great complement to the headliner, Tegan and Sara. They played for about an hour and occasionally took breaks to talk and engage the crowd, trying hard to build up the excitement and maybe get a little more dancing going on. The audiences hearts were won when Joshua lamented that they rarely get a chance to play in Canada and declared Toronto a more sophisticated New York except maybe cleaner. The highlights came near the end of their set, as they did a lovely cover of the Beach Boys God Only Knows and closed with their most popular single Gone a summery pop song with a catchy beat and a whistling hook that was released last July. During their second-last song, Daniel jumped into the crowd making one final attempt to pump up the audience for Tegan and Sara. During the intermission, I spotted him in the main hall taking photos with fans, which solidified the feeling of being at an exclusive VIP event.

Photo by: Danielle Burton
Photo by: Danielle Burton
            Tegan and Sara took the stage just after 9:30 pm and were met with screams and applause from the room full of excited fans. They opened with Boyfriend, the lead single from their latest album Love You To Death released on June 3, 2016 on Neil Youngs label Vapor. This was met with even more screams and applause and immediately followed by a throwback all the way to 2004, as the duo played Walking With A Ghost. This was a personal highlight for me, as it was the song which introduced me to Tegan and Sara when it was covered by The White Stripes and released on their EP of the same name. They continued with a variety of songs spanning their eight studio albums and twenty year long career, stopping in between to talk to the crowd, joke and tell stories. They really seemed to enjoy engaging with their fans and the audience was loving every minute of it, especially since the setting was so intimate. At one point, Tegan was handed a cell phone from someone in the crowd and had a brief conversation with whoever was on the other end, finally telling them Alright, listen, were at a concert so Im gonna have to let you go. This led to a great touring story from Sara, who was quiet during most of the show, about the not-so-nice surprise of getting an outrageous cell phone bill. She even threw in a few jokes and dedicated the next song to her old Motorola Razr, which was pretty funny to anyone old enough to remember the cutting-edge technology of the early millennium.

Photo by: Danielle Burton
            Towards the end of the set, Tegan introduced the backing band, which consisted of Gabrial McNair on keyboards and Brendan Buckley on drums. They sounded great and the two will be joining them for their 2016 world tour in support of Love You To Death. Tegan and Sara, although both play guitar and keyboards, were simply standing front and center with two microphones and lots of room for dancing. To the crowds delight, they played the classic Back In Your Head, which the people standing around me were already chanting for. They closed the night with the hit single Closer, from their last album Heartthrob. There was no encore, but guests were treated to one last surprise as they were handed a free poster for the event before exiting the hotel into a warm, summery Saturday night in Toronto.

Tegan and Sara will be back in Toronto on October 28 at Massey Hall. There are still a few tickets available at www.ticketmaster.ca.

For more information on the 2016 Hilton Concert Series, check out http://news.hiltonworldwide.com/index.cfm/misc/concert.

Article by Danielle Burton, Louder Than That's newest blogger




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mapei

Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud 

-29-year-old born in Rhode Island and raised in Stockholm
-Loves Kendrick Lamar
-'Mapei brings palpable soul and sonic versatility to a world where genre matters less and less.' - From her Facebook
-'Mapei brings palpable soul and sonic versatility to a world where genre matters less and less. The Stockholm native soaks up influences – from hip-hop to dance-pop and Swedish club to gospel – and the results feel organic, timeless and positively exuberant. It’s music of experience – well-traveled and alive.' - From her SoundCloud
-“Don’t Wait” is a song about friendship, and love, and letting the ones you care about know what they mean to you, before it’s too late." - Interview with Buzzfeed
-'Born to a Liberian mother and an American father, Mapei moved to Sweden with her mother when she was 10, and later spent time in Brazil, Tunisia, and Portugal. These influences all come through in her music, as do the club sounds of Sweden, where she got her start in the underground hip-hop scene.' - BuzzFeed interview

Songs to listen to: Don't Wait (below)



Conclusion: Because she hasn't been out very long, there isn't much to comment on except that I'm very  excited to hear more from her! She has a wicked sound and her music is a lot of fun to sing. They're totally 'anthem' songs if you can understand what I mean by that. But anyways, I need more from her! Till then I'll just wait. Here's what we can expect from her album once it's released, taken from an interview she did featured on BuzzFeed.

What is the vibe of your upcoming album like, then?

 The vibe’s really eclectic, and I just want it to be accepting [of it] because it’s a mixture of everything. I hope every style hits home with different people. There’s a lot of rock riffs, guitar riffs, 808s — a mixture, how like “Don’t Wait” is a mixture between everything. All the songs have that mix.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Superhumanoids

Twitter | Facebook | Website | SoundCloud 

[Max, Cameron, Sarah]
-Officially began May 2011
-Toured with Local Natives, Cold War Kids,
-Mustard field - Sarah's favourite breakfast place in California
-Their album Exhibitionists is self produced
-balance shimmering ‘80s new wave with sharp-elbowed observations about doubt, love and longing." - Billboard
-"I hope our music is something that people can put on at a party, but also when they're alone and feeling introspective," says Parkins. "I think it's really important for us to hit that broad emotional pallet."

Songs to listen to: So Strange (below)

 
Superhumanoids - "So Strange" from Yours Truly on Vimeo.

Conclusion: Ok, I had to write this part before anything because honestly couldn't. I love the music, her voice, his voice, the simplicity of the lyrics and just about everything about them at this very moment. His voice is totally like Dan Whitford from Cut Copy. The music is similar too actually... just with a girl. The 'Yours Truly' session is what brought me in and I'm very very happy I came across it. It's so 80's. Yeee!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thomas Jack

Twitter | Facebook | SoundCloud | Website 

-20 year old
-From Bemboka, Australia
-Taken from his website, "Like the oceans surrounding Thomas’ backyard his music ebbs and flows, sometimes unpredictably but always beautifully."
-Thomas brings in the jazz orchestra for a unique style suitable for the masses.
-Download his mix tape, it's what's missing in your life. Click here.


Songs/Remixes to listen to: The Final Speech (Original Mix) - Thomas Jack ft. Adrian SymesOf Monsters and Men - Little Talks (Thomas Jack Remix)Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Atlas Hands (Thomas Jack Remix), Thomas Jack - Symphony (Original Mix) (below)

 

Conclusion: Just, wow. Be right back, I need to pour myself a drink this is so good. I honestly cannot deal. This is perfect day music for when you're just happy with the world and you're not satisfied with day to day music. This music makes me so happy. Pretty sure I'm officially obsessed.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hozier

Twitter | Facebook | Bandcamp

-aka Andrew
-From Dublin, Ireland
-Described as 'alternative, acoustic, blues, folk and soul'
-Has a 4 track E.P. called 'Take Me To Church' which is available on Bandcamp
-Joined 'Other Voices'  festival this year to perform alongside artists such as Florence and the Machine, Owen Pallett, Cold Specks, Mogwai and more
-His music video for 'Take Me To Church' was directed by Brendan Canty and deals with the repression of gay people in Russia.
-Hozier says, “Listen to any song, from any era; and you're looking through a keyhole into the artist's world as seen through their eyes. Art is, in its simplest form, the reproduction of the world around us. All artists reproduce their vision of the world and, in doing so, create a document that reflects the times they live in.”

Songs to listen to: Take Me To Church (Below) and Like Real People Do



Conclusion: His single 'Take Me To Church' is definitely a song you can sing in the shower. It's so powerful its meaning and yet so damn catchy. His voice is so soothing I can hear him sing all day.  Keep the hits comin sir, I like what I hear!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kygo

SoundCloud | Twitter | Facebook 

-aka Kyrre Gorvell-Dahll
-22 year old
-Music producer
-From Norway
-Constantly #1 on Hype Machine
-Remixed Snow Patrol, Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding, Passenger and more.
-Currently studying in Edinburgh


Songs to listen: Lana Del Rey - Born To Die (Kygo Remix)Passenger - Let Her Go (Kygo Remix) and Ellie Goulding - High For This (Kygo Remix) || The Weeknd Cover


 Conclusion: There's not a lot on him yet but I swear he's going to be big. His Facebook page alone already has 48,000 likes. His remix are pretty wicked. They're chill but at the same time still a dance party. I'm thinking they will be great for my next long car ride. I also really like the songs he chooses to remix. Looking forward to seeing what else this guy has in store for us.