Years - What we have here tonight is a collective of nine musicians from Toronto playing in total as the headliner and in various combinations with a songwriter/arranger leading the openers. Here we have the guitarist playing a hollow body electric and acoustic fingerstyle with the occasional loop. A trumpet gives a few songs some nice color and transition. The guitarist is no Davy Graham (few are even close) and the loops make it a little unclear what he's playing and when, but the result is the issue and the music is excellent. There's a good Robbie Basho style energy which I do enjoy much. And the more he plays, the more he earns my respect as a really good guitarist (which gets clearer in the subsequent sets as well). A sax joins in and other members pop in as well. A nice set.
The Happiness Project - This time a bassist/guitarist takes the lead by explaining that his project was to record his neighbor's speech patterns and compose songs off of the variant vocal maneuvering during their conversations. Alright, this sounds pretty iffy. But when he kicks it in starting with a conversation and then having a sax play along with it, it makes sense and sounds surprisingly good. The subsequent efforts go in different directions with full band interpretation, looped dialogue, and playing in between the words in interesting patterns. This really worked in spite of my misplaced cynicism. I look forward to the full band coming up next based on the creative and accessible sounds thus far.
Do Make Say Think - There is some instrument switching (as there has been already), but it is quite seamless and not manic at all. The nine members mostly play a couple guitars, a bass, two drumkits, violin, sax, trumpets, and keyboards. There is some slight group vocals more in the way of chants picked up by distant stage microphones, so we are dealing with instrumentals here. The music is diverse and very smart without being an intellectual exercise. Very catchy guitar lines and smooth brass breathing in and out between the main melody lines. Some really interesting psychedelic moves, interesting violin plucking, good drumming. In fact, if I were to compare this to Terrastock bands that I saw last year, this reminds me of somewhere between an Irish band I enjoyed immensely called United Bible Studies and a Louisville music collective Sapat. That is pretty high praise from me and I really had a great night watching these Toronto musicians. The club was crowded for a Tuesday and the patrons agreed heartily. Oh, and I now read they have worked with Akron/Family. What a surprise that great bands find each other and work with each other. Do Make an effort to see this collective.
Quote of the Night: "So this is place is hipster heaven..." from some annoying guy who talked loudly 3/4 of the way through the headliner's set.