Daily Roundup: A Study in Contrasts

Wherein it has come to my attention that promoters dislike it when you mention their events were poorly run and badly organized, and venues dislike it when you point out that their toilets were overflowing with poop.

Live Reviews

These two pieces, both written for Exclaim!, could not be more different.

Rebecca Foon, playing as Saltland.

Rebecca Foon, playing as Saltland.

On Thursday night, I attended the Constellation Records event at the Great Hall, showcasing some of their more avant releases and experimental artists. Featuring Esmerine, Matana Roberts, Rebecca Foon performing as Saltland, and Jerusalem In My Heart, with Dundasa 80 spinning between sets. It was a weird, wild, and intensely moving night, and it was a treat to see Esmerine again after loving their set at the Emerging Music Festival in Rouyn-Noranda, QC last weekend. The highlight for me was Matana Roberts, which combined layers of sax loops with vocals/spoken work, in an intensely moving partially improvised piece. “Roberts’ performing was hypnotic, deeply affecting, unsettling and beautiful, an example of music that is both aesthetically and politically transformative.”

Crimson Shadows, winners of the 2013 Wacken Metal Battle, being awesome.

Crimson Shadows, winners of the 2013 Wacken Metal Battle, being awesome.

Then there was my review of Spread the Metal festival on Saturday night. Oh boy. Okay.  So first of all, the bands all put on great sets, I enjoyed the hell out of the music, and I tried very hard for that to come across in this review. Everything else about the show was a goddamn nightmare. I can’t place blame on the venue, because I think they were just overwhelmed. Attendance was dismal for the most part (I had people commenting in my pictured that they had NO IDEA Suffocation were coming to town), and at one point a photographer, who though setting up in the pit with a tripod and telephoto lens was a great idea, was jostled and responding my wielding said tripod like a katana. Worst and most crazily, a ruckus broke out outside during Suffocation‘s set when the promoter was unable to pay Kittie their guarantee.

My editors ultimately cut the section in my review where I talked about the financial shenanigans. Here are the two paragraphs that were excised after the piece had been up for a day or so:

“Outside the venue, however, the most egregious fault of Spread the Metal festival was beginning to manifest: an altercation occurred when the event’s promoter refused to pay Kittie their guarantee, instead offering a little more than a quarter of what was owed. The scene carried from the front of the venue down the street to an ATM, and in the end the very vocally unhappy band was still vastly underpaid, which was especially shocking considering that Kittie brought what was without a doubt the largest audience with them. The incident spoke badly about the festival’s already questionably organization, and raised serious concerns about the rest of the band’s fees; if the co-headliners were stiffed, what about all of the supporting acts, many who travelled?

Spread the Metal Festival seems to have some good intentions: the event was geared towards raising money for the charitable organization Kiva (which allows individual contributors to make micro-donations), and brought up some bands to Toronto who have not toured recently or are only doing limited one-off performances. In the end, however, it was crippled by a lack of adequate planning and foresight, and this ultimately hurt the turnout, the audience’s ability to enjoy the show, and the bands themselves. The performances were solid and entertaining, but were hampered by the event’s poor execution and the organizer’s inexperience.”

Though it’s been cut down now, please do read the full review, if only for Tripod Ninja.

Also this crew member's shirt was most excellent.

Also this crew member’s shirt was most excellent.

Album Reviews

In less contentious writing, I reviewed the new Altars record, Paramnesia, for About Heavy Metal. “…they have a firm handle on their sound and a strong, confident aesthetic.What keeps Paramnesia from being excellent, however, is frankly mediocre songwriting.”

Pretty CanLit

I attended the Fisher Small Press Fair at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library last weekend, and ogled the gorgeous books on behalf of Torontoist.

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