The Barr Brothers gave everyone at Hillside 2017 a truly unique rock experience and not just because the show contained the first harp solo I have ever experienced in modern music. By the way, I mean an actual harp, not slang for harmonica. When you are watching The Barr brothers perform live it feels like you are like taking a swim in raging rapids. At first you might fight against the chaos, but very soon you start to swim towards the current and you just let the river take you wherever it wants you to go.
Hailing from Montreal, The Barr Brothers play unconventional progressive rock and roll, which is an accomplishment unto itself. Their music has aspects of everything from jazz and punk rock to classical music and the blues, but what they really draw from is the well of folk rock, which is unusual for such a dizzying style of music. Their live performance is breathtaking, tumultuous and poetic. Sometimes they seem to take what would otherwise be a conventional catchy composition and play dissonant notes over top of it. At other moments they would sync up like a metronomic hive mind and exchange riffs.
One of the other notable aspects of this group is that the drummer has a bike wheel on his kit to play in place of a ride symbol. It creates a tin like timbre similar to the rhythm section of The Violent Femmes. My favorite part of the show was actually when they paired things down and did a gorgeous four part harmony onto one microphone. The Barr Brothers take simple things and make them complex. If you need a little more entropy in your life then consider going on a ride with The Barr Brothers.
It was a homecoming 20 years in the making, and the mood was that of festive jubilation. The audience was packed in and totally revved up before I Mother Earth claimed the stage in nostalgic triumph for their first of several performances at The Phoenix Concert Theatre. This was a night to celebrate the two decades since the release of the acclaimed double platinum selling album ‘Scenery & Fish’. It also marked the reunion of vocalist Edwin with IME, who parted ways in mid-1997 at the height of their popularity, only a year after the release of said album.
Though IME along with vocalist Brian Byrne and Edwin have each gone on to further success, fans of both have often wondered if this reunion would ever happen, and this is definitely the closest it’s ever been. Edwin and guitarist/songwriter Jag Tanna were all smiles throughout the night as they breathed life into these songs just as they were originally performed, though with bassist Bruce Gordon faithfully subbed out by Chuck Dailey of The Salads.
Edwin’s vocals were refreshing to hear. His voice rang crisply on songs that were made famous with his unique tones two decades ago. Although coming together to celebrate a band in their prime, he sounded prime as ever; as did Jag, and Daniel Mansilla on percussion. The sound was then made even more enormous with the help of Jesse Karwat on additional percussion and instrumentation.
The entire record was played through, faithfully, seemingly in order, with the total undivided attention of their most dedicated fans. High energy uniquely Canadian funk metal with a Santana-twist, IME played an over the top epic rock show to one of the most enthusiastic Toronto crowds in recent memory. Encore performances included cuts from their first album Dig, alluding to further shows and more to come. A recently announced concert tour along with other 1990s can-rock legends Our Lady Peace is bringing the nostalgic energy around this band to a fever pitch, so if this isn’t the music you grew up on, you may just be hearing a lot more of it soon, and it’s definitely worth getting into.
Article by: Jesse Kline
Pictures by: Gideon Greenbaum-Shinder
Edited by: Gideon Greenbaum-Shinder
I must say that Field Trip did a fantastic job in curating their performers this year. In fact, the entire festival grounds were set up in a new and innovative way, keeping the sound from each stage well isolated and the children happily at play in between. On top of that it was a glorious day. All of these factors put me in a very good mood, so I decided it was time I actually went to see the up and coming Toronto band Holy Fuck. I have been listening to them for some time, but have always seemed to get sidetracked when it comes to seeing them live. Regardless to say, I am glad I broke this bad habit of being an absentee fan.
As far as absolutely out of this world live electronica goes, Holy Fuck can be described eponymously. They layer beats on top of their live drummer as if they are constantly icing their giant psychedelic cake. If there is one boundary that Holy Fuck breaks, beyond their crazy name, it is that they forge a distinctive harmony between synthetic and instrumental music. In fact those of you who read our review of Ensh would find Holy Fuck in the same indefinable category. This is a band that has blazed a trail people didn’t even know was there yet. They have managed to transcend the stereotypes of modern music and create their own genre,a true accomplishment in an of itself. Seen at an outdoor festival, their music takes on richer organic undertones with the opportunity to breathe in the open air, if you get a chance to see Holy Fuck outdoors this summer, don’t miss them. holyfuckmusic.com
This band is aptly named for being an absolute force of nature. Their live show is a majestically orchestral, mind bending, genre-fusing sonic experience. When I first heard Earth’s Yellow Sun I was more than impressed, but one of my first thoughts was, “How the hell would they do this live?” Well it turns out they do it very well. This seven-piece beast plays Jazzy progressive Metal Rock. Their sound lies somewhere between Dream Theatre and the cantina band from Star Wars. Lee’s Palace was lightly peppered for a Saturday night, but those who were there were either entranced or constantly head banging to the beat.
And for good reasons. Earth’s Yellow Sun’s drummer Julien Bigras has a tenacious metal double kick and their bassist Duncan Stan is a versatile chameleon, and tight as a belt on a fat guy. On keys, Gio Campanelli is a master of ethereal tones and Guitarist, Josh Hanff, is a towering inferno of arpeggiation with a space metal tone. Of course my favorite aspect of this band, the thing that really puts them over the top, is their three-piece saxophone section. Their horny leader is Savic Panylyk, and he puts on a great show constantly throwing his head back, head banging and facing skyward in ecstasy. Throughout the show the songs were often segued with familiar clips from film and television. A favorite non-musical moments was when they used a snippet from Rick and Morty, one of my favorite cartoons.
It’s good to know that amid the intense composition and powerful performance of Earth’s Yellow Sun’s music, a sense of humour lies beneath. So if you are looking for a new experience, seek no more; this band is both brilliant and utterly unique. If you are a Metal head these guys will surely intrigue you. If you love hard Rock or Jazz you will appreciate this perfectly distilled mélange of styles. And if you like intricately complex music you will love these guys.
Review and Pictures by: Gideon Greenbaum-Shinder
Edited by: Jesse Kline
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