The Christmas spirit was definitely in the air (along with a few other things) at the Sound Academy on December 15th, as Tokyo Police Club, Hollerado and last minute guest Topanga played for a very cheerful crowd.
Although the show was not nearly as sweaty as most crowds of this calibre are, it was certainly rowdier than some. The mayhem began near the beginning of Hollerado’s set when rainbow confetti and paper streamers were blasted into the audience from both sides of the stage, along with big, glowing beach balls a few songs later, which members of the band even had to dodge. But these were the least of anyone’s concerns as crowdsurfer after crowdsurfer plunged over everyone’s heads. (These are the moments when it’s not quite as fun to be front row.)
Amidst the chaos, Hollerado played their singles “Pick Me Up,” “Good Day at the Races,” “Juliette” and a track which lead singer Menno Versteeg presented as “a song about a homophobic man.” Versteeg also told a short story about a man with a unibrow who biked past him and apologized for having a unibrow (sometimes it’s just one of those days). One of the highlights of their set was their song “You Got To Lose” which built up to a crowd sing-along of the chorus “You got to lose love if you want to find love” and a fakeout ending.
Tokyo Police Club brought even more Christmas cheer when they started their set, full of their short punchy songs, which allowed them to pack in more hits than most bands are able to perform at one show. TPC opened with “Cheer It On,” the first song off their 2006 EP, A Lesson In Crime, which created a swirl of buzz around the young band at the time of release. They played nearly the entire EP, including the anthemic “La Ferassie”, “Nature of the Experiment,” and the robot dystopia track “Citizens of Tomorrow,” which seemed incredibly well-suited for this year’s apocalypse scares, despite its line: “That’s 2009.”
The boys played a “new” song (although they’ve been playing it live since the start of the summer) called “Argentina,” which had a bit of a Vampire Weekend vibe to it, and a more grown-up feel for them. Hopefully we hear more new material from them sometime near the start of the new year.
As the artificial snow continued to fall, Tokyo Police Club played “Let It Snow,” which seamlessly transitioned into their song “Frankenstein.” They were later joined by Menno Versteeg of Hollerado during the encore for a duet of another holiday classic, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” which they both clearly poured their hearts into.
Santa Claus even made a surprise appearance as a back-up dancer, even though earlier he was in a bit of trouble with the security guards for crowdsurfing. During one of the guitar solos, Menno left the audience with these small words: “Alright, let me tell you something about Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a little thing that lives inside of every one of us.”
This year might not be the end of the world*, but it did mark the end of many things in my life. School, relationships, employment – the latter two multiple times. But, what better to get you through all of these things than some good music. Tied with good friends and food, music completes the trifecta of essentials to get me through all the good and bad times, and that was especially true this year. Sometimes, the perfect album or song enters your life in such a timely manner, it’s almost like that artist had written it just for you. That was Fiona Apple for me. So, needless to say, Apple’s The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do is hands-down my favourite album of the year. But even on a non-personal level, that album is clearly one of the best, both musically in Apple’s stark and bare bones arrangements as well as her masterful words. This isn’t to say that I’ve had an entirely miserable year, I swear there’s a glimmer of happiness still flickering inside me, but you’ll notice that there’s a bit of a theme to all my picks. I would say let’s hope for a brighter new year, but honestly, I don’t mind all the sad-sack, dark tunes. Throw in a few guitar-shredding numbers, and I’m good.
Now, to spare you from more rambling, I will now present to you my top albums of this year in the succinct form of Twitter-sized blurbs!
* I am currently writing this on December 18, so apologies if it really is the end of the world.
2012 was a big year for me. I finally moved to Toronto, full-time – which meant I was finally a real adult with responsibilities and a mortgage! Um, yay? I also turned 30 this year… and I’m just going to leave that there.
Moving to Toronto meant attending lots of shows, which made me feel like a kid again, when music and attending shows were all that mattered. Music-wise, it was all about throwbacks and flashbacks for me – so many bands and musicians I loved in my younger years – Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann, Garbage, Ben GIbbard of Death Cab for Cutie, to name a few – returned with albums and tours. I can safely say that the highlight of my year – concert-wise – was seeing Ben Gibbard (who I’ve never seen before, solo or with Death Cab) doing a solo acoustic rendition of “Such Great Heights” and “Passenger Seat” on piano. Oh, and Fiona Apple (who I’ve also never seen before) singing “Paper Bag” (even though the show was at the Suck, er… Sound Academy).
I also discovered a couple cool new bands too. I guess Divine Fits qualifies as a new band (even though I’ve always been a big Spoon fan and a Wolf Parade fan, so it’s pretty much by default, right?). Father John Misty was probably my favourite new discovery of 2012. This was my first year attending NXNE, which allowed me to witness so many great bands and nervously interview Eternal Summers in their van!
So, for the part where I get sentimental – the best part of my year (aside from the things I already mentioned above) was joining The Singing Lamb team and writing on a regular basis again. I hope we keep doing it and I hope you keep reading. Now, how about some lists, yeah?