WAVELENGTH 500 – NIGHT THREE
Friday Feb. 12
@ Sneaky Dee’s, 431 College St.
From Fiction (reunion)
The Bicycles (reunion)
9pm • $12 adv
+ Projections by General Chaos Visuals
Festival pass $50 !
Advance tickets and passes available at:
Soundscapes, 572 College St.
Rotate This, 801 Queen W.
Online at GalleryAC.com
From Feb. 10th to 14th, 2010, the Wavelength music series celebrates its 10th birthday and 500th show with Wavelength 500, a festival of independent music featuring 25 bands playing over 5 nights at 5 different venues. WL 500 will look back over a decade of Wavelength and Toronto music scene history, featuring some big names that started small at Wavelength, some dearly departed bands reuniting for this occasion, and some of the best new acts of 2009.
We will also be publishing a special 10th Anniversary Festival Program Guide to coincide with Wavelength 500. Copies will be available at Soundscapes and Rotate This as of Tuesday, Feb. 9.
Feb. 14th also marks the end of the weekly Sunday night incarnation of the Wavelength music series. This is not the end of Wavelength, though. We plan to relaunch the series in a new monthly format in the spring.
Cymbal crashing ghetto-blasting riff thrashing brain bashing gut smashing are just a few descriptors of a From Fiction live show. The apogee of the Barcelona Pavilion-coined “Men Who Practice” paradigm of local music making, From Fiction did just that, practicing for nearly a full year before stepping onto Toronto’s stages in 2002. And rather than slowly see a band develop show after show, local audiences had their minds instantly destroyed by the most powerful and intrinsically tightest group of musicians Toronto had seen in years. Expanding on the minimalist math rock sounds of local predecessors Rockets Red Glare and out-of-towners Weights and Measures, From Fiction incorporated pop melodics and punk rock noise freakouts into their songwriting, creating a sound all their own. Live From Fiction were an unstoppable force, from guitarists Quentin Ede and Adam Barnes’ dueling labyrinthine riffs to Owen Marchildon’s body-flailing bass rumbles to Rob Gordon’s caffeinated animalistic drum assault. Releasing a self-titled EP recorded with local heavy hitter Ian Blurton, the band channeled their energy into their follow-up full length, recorded in Chicago with legendary engineer Steve Albini. After four years of vigorous practicing, touring and releasing Bloodwork in 2006 on Last Gang Records, From Fiction burned out at their creative peak and vanished overnight without ever playing an official final show. WL500 will see the band reformed, rejuvenated and ready to blow your mind one last time.
The Bicycles didn’t really break up, they just went on a “permanent hiatus.” They were around for a decade, starting in 1999 and calling it quits just last year. In that time they recorded only two albums, 2006’s The Good The Bad and The Cuddly, and 2008’s Oh No, It’s Love. Their CD release shows, which aped the Last Waltz format (wryly dubbing the shows “The Last Shmaltz”) saw them backing the likes of Matt Murphy, Andre Ethier and Sloan, and inciting the “farthest crowd surf” at Lee’s Palace. The Bicycles were unabashedly pop, recalling The Monkees or Andy Kim (who they backed up for his Christmas show at the Mod Club in ‘07) with surprisingly mature and lush instrumentation, at a time when fuzz rock was the local flavour of choice. The Bicycles riffed on the cliché staple of pop music: love songs; but these songs, and indeed the band itself, were directed more to pop music itself than any flesh-and-blood romance. With their cartoonish artwork, hand-crafted merch and stage props, and even a DVD board game, the Bicycles oozed an unpretentious D.I.Y. pop tenor unlike anything else in Toronto.
The era of the Bad Bands Revolution opened up local stages to anyone and everyone with the urge to try out something musical, but beyond enabling a world of excruciatingly terrible bands, it also allowed a few new faces to shine insanely bright among the D.I.Y. din. Only the most whimsical stroke of genius would lead an artist to cover Weird Al Yankovic’s “Smells Like Nirvana,” let alone cover it on a kalimba purchased capriciously on eBay. While many artists fell into lazy mediocrity, interpreting the BBR manifesto as an excuse for “not really trying,” a few illustrious folk understood it as a summons to “really try,” despite a lack of previous experience or social capital. Laura Barrett’s kalimba debut quickly led to more live shows and a need for original songs, which manifested themselves as the sci-fi stage-musical linguistic trips we’ve come to wrap our minds around when listening to Laura’s music. Drawing on her training in classical piano, her love of literature and a willingness to experiment, Laura Barrett stands out as one of our city’s most innovating and inspiring artists — whether playing solo or collaborating with other artists such as The Hidden Cameras, Basia Bulat or The Hylozoists. Since her first full length, Victory Garden, was released on Paper Bag in 2008, Laura has been traveling the roads of North America showcasing the power of fingers tapping tiny metal tongs to a vision all her own.
Young Mother is not a band we’ve followed for years, nor have they woven a special thread in the tapestry of the series. This is because Jesse has only played one show so far as Young Mother the band proper, and the Wavelength he played at last November was the first show of his own material in more than a year. He came with a backing band and packed a soulful nuanced vibe and an explosive sense of wonder that just jawdropped us all. Jesse, however has been quietly weaving away in Toronto for many years and we have had a number of Incidental(s) paths cross with him. Through those years he has always struck me as a thoughtful, misunderstood ambassador forced to live in this cold hard material world, all the while trying to translate his own personal expanding universe, more often than not falling on deaf ears that only respond to passing pop fancies or copycat indie outfits. When he took the stage at The Garrison and put forth for the first time — for me at least — a completely realized audio-vision, Jesse was standing in for all the rest of us.
Marshall McLuhan had this theory that the emergence of a new medium makes its predecessor obsolete, but in doing so recovers an earlier, abandoned medium— for example, radio replaced print but ironically brought back the spoken word. Could the same thing happen with decades? Just as the ‘80s abandoned the mellow, comfortable ‘70s in favour of flash and excess, at the same time they gave birth to nostalgia for the idealism of the ‘60s. Right now we’ve just left one decade that didn’t know what it was about, and we’re entering one that has no idea what it will be about, but one thing is clear: the ‘90s are back. And why not? An argument could be made that musical progress peaked in 1994. The only problem with this theory is that arbitary collections of dates aren’t able to think aboutanything, and besides we’re talking about the Magic Cheezies, one of Wavelength’s Class of 2009. Founded by singer/guitarist Heather Curley (once of DD/MM/YYYY) and drummer-turned-bassist Mark McLean (formerly of The Sick Lipstick), the Cheezies show that when done right, back-to-basics Punk Rock can be the most exciting thing you’ve ever heard. They take the unapologetic, estrogen-fuelled menace of Riot Grrl bands like Bikini Kill, tighten its screws, and flip on the harsh-noise switch. Only this time, we can’t count on Roseanne Barr to explain it to our folks.