Wavelength 450 Ninth Anniversary Festival – Night Three:
Saturday February 14th, 2009
SPK 206 Beverley St
Fingernail bitten and salted bootlaces the only reminder of your first high school crush since your last divorce. Well wishes that never made it to the mantle. Fifty cups of coffee never black enough. Two weeks learning to whistle in the wrong key. A pack of smokes in a rusted van planted in a suburban city outskirt. Hot chocolate and brandy and motorcycle calendars. A bottle of cheap local wine lying on the park slide. “I think we should break up.” “I think we already did that.” A cappella parenting and three hits of acid. A stolen bumper boat and your initials carved in a tree beside the initials of someone you haven’t thought about in awhile, a sorta long while now.
How does Guelph do it? After the Guelph invasion of the early 00’s that brought us Royal City, The Constantines, Jim Guthrie and others, I thought it might fade from our mental map and a generational turnover might leave that town musically high and dry. Not so. Not only has the scene there maintained, it’s resurged, producing some of the most exciting and unique music in Canada right now. Brides stand out not only for having the best hair, but for being unique among it’s local brethren, approaching something more… let’s say skronky. Imagine a mashup between The Contortions, DNA and Teenage Jesus and The Jerks and you’re getting close.
I can’t remember how I found out about Hooded Fang. In my mind, they’ve always existed, putting on rad all-ages shows, making fun fur monsters, and being the soundtrack to my laundry-room dance parties. But it’s only been a year. They majority of their members moved to Toronto from Montreal in last fall, started the band in the winter, played their first show on February 14th 2008 and only then began stealing the hearts of damn near everybody that sees them. Their brand of indie pop somehow manages to be assured without being a dick about it, recalling the more upbeat moments of Belle and Sebastian but avoiding the preciousness. This is how it’s done, kids.
Jessie Stein left Toronto a few years ago and upon her departure the lights of our fair city dimmed a bit. I associate her departure with the post-Torontopia It’s Gonna Be Us era we’re living in today. It didn’t take long for her to find her voice and a new outfit called the Luyas, an electrifyingly eclectic bright light that shines out of Montreal and we always look forward with delight to her return. When Wavelength released the lineup for 450 and Carl Wilson posted it on his beautiful Zoilus blog, he posted an accompanying photo of Jessie.
Christine Duncan is force of nature, literally one of the most unique voices in the Toronto music community. Combining fierce vocal technique with fiery delivery, experience in genres from improvised jazz to country, unbounded creativity and community-mindedness, Christine has excelled as one-half of Barnyard Drama, alongside drummer/partner Jean Martin. But in early ’08, she took things a step further by unveiling her new project, the Element Choir. With anywhere between 12 and 50 members taking part at any given gig, Christine has assembled a fluid yet dedicated collective of singers who enjoy doing strange things with their laryxes. Sound-singing has a long history, through artists like Phil Minton or Paul Dutton, but here it’s explored on a grand scale. Christine has developed an entire vocabulary of conduction cues through which she can direct and loosely “structure” the choir’s vocal improvisations. You’ve probably never heard anything like it, and it has to be seen to be believed.