Note from the Editor: 3 Nights, 2 days of great music

I just had one of the best weekends of my year. I spent most of it in London Ontario (quickly becoming one of my favorite towns) at LOLA (London Ontario Live Arts) festival, but it began at Toronto's Tranzac club on Thursday night. Thursday was a good day for me, first of all, because it was my last day at my old job. Moving on up. When I finished I headed over to Brunswick and Bloor for Nick Zubeck's CD release party. That night we drove into London (arriving at 4am), and were up early for LOLA.... but let me tell you about all the great bands, most I'd never seen before, and ALL are worth your time, so please, check out their myspace pages, which I'll link to their names.

THURS: Tranzac, Toronto Ontario

Sandro Perri

Sandro Perri is a name I'd heard before, but I hadn't the opportunity to see the man live. Luckily this weekend I had the chance to see him twice. He was one of the opening acts for Nick Zubeck's CD release (along with Christine Bougie whom I unfortunately missed). Sandro is signed to Montreal's Constellation label, and is a member of Polmo Polpo, he's played with Barzin, Great Lake Swimmers and Eric Cheneaux, but his solo work is amazing. He was playing with a drummer and bass player (who alternated on bass clarinet), and added Ryan Driver on keys and flute at LOLA. What a band. The drummer created complex beats and rhythms behind Sandro's folky melodies. Easily one of the highlights of my weekend.

Nick Zubeck

Sandro set the pace, but it was definitely Nick's night. He played with full band consisting of drums, bass, and Rhodes Keyboards. The tight band gave the songs a 70's AM radio polish, but were unafraid to take the songs to unexpected places. Nick's melodies can be haunting, choosing unusual notes, moving the songs into engaging directions. A quick note about the crowd at the Tranzac; I felt like I was in Grenwich village in the 60's, there were so many talented musicians around, Sandro, Barzin, Olenka, guitarist Nathan Hiltz, to name a few.

FRI: LOLA, London Ontario

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers

Speaking of Olenka, Friday's festival opened with her and the Autumn Lovers. I can't speak too much of the performance as I am one of the Autumn Lovers. But we had a modest size crowd who were incredibly appreciative, and there was no shortage of love for the entire weekend.


Next up was a band called Tin, but to be honest, I don't remember anything about them. I remember enjoying them, but after all the music this weekend... well... they just don't register. But I do remember Bocce. Bocce are a "4 piece traveling beat parade" from Waterloo (although, I only remember seeing 3 of them). The instrumentation consists of various beat machines, keyboards and percussion, and three very animated characters. Infectious dancy fun.

The Drift

When we first arrived at the venue we met a bunch of guys from San Fransisco known as the Drift. We joined them for lunch, and got along great the entire weekend. Great guys, and great musicians. They play instrumental music that reminds one of Bitches Brew with hints of Dub. They had this great moment when the music shifted from a brooding, moody piece into a double time jam that got the crowd (including myself) moving. Oh, and they have a Four Tet remix on their Myspace. That makes them a lot cooler than me.

Do Make Say Think

Friday night headliners Do Make Say Think began roughly around the time I realized I could watch the performances from back stage... I had a back stage pass! The power I felt having that. Being the festival opener I'd say we were near the bottom of the musical pecking order, but we all felt pretty cool with those passes. Anyways, DMST were another in a long line of large bands at the festival, and the layers of sound were brilliant. Guitarist Justin Small is the highlight of this band, his high energy stage presence is very crowd pleasing.

SAT: LOLA, London Ontario


Saturday's festivities started at 1:30 with a high bred of jazz and Americana, provided by Toronto's Muskox. There were a few popular instruments this year, bells (glocs, vibes), upright bass, and banjo. Muskox had all. It was great to start the day with such challenging music.


Speaking of challenging jazz, they don't get more challenging (and ultimately rewarding) than Feuermusik. Usually the band consists of Jeremy Strachan on Tenor and Baritone sax, and Gus Weinkauf on... well, buckets mostly. Anyways, for the show (and their album) they Incorporated 5 other horn players, alto sax, soprano sax, trumpet, clarinet and bass clarinet. Great free/ avant garde tunes, high energy, huge sounds. Made me want to play free jazz again.

Laura Barrett

After Feuermusik came Sandro Perri, but I've already talked about him... He's great. Go see him. Than came the talented, and adorable, Laura Barrett. Laura has a band now! Her solo Kalimba shows were great, but the addition of a band (with obligatory Vibes and banjo) added a whole new element to her sound. She debuted a bunch of tracks from her new album, and they're great, so's the album, I suggest you running out and getting it now. Her band consisted of members of the Hylozoists and the Bicycles. I don't think there was a more crowd pleasing act all weekend.

The Hylozoists

Speaking of the Hylozoists... Here they are! Again with the big bands, leader Paul Aucoin had 6 players with him, including 2 drummers (echoing the performance of Do Make Say Think the night before). The Hylozoists are the only band to have played at all three LOLA's, and I can tell why the keep bringing them back. Their Moriccone-esque melodies, and high energy songs worked the audience up into a frenzy.

Off the International Radar

No one I knew had heard of this band. It was odd that they had such a good spot in the set. They played very minimalist brooding songs, with lots of reverb and delay. I enjoyed their set, but the question that everyone was asking at the end was "is the Stephen Harper shirt meant to be ironic?"

Holy Fuck

Holy Fuck was preceded by the current "It band", Plants and Animals. But to tell you the truth, they did nothing for me. All they inspired in me was a trip to the green room for some free beer (woo, back stage pass!!). But I can't say enough great things about Holy Fuck. They are easily the best live band playing in this province today. The best part was that I watched the whole thing practically right behind the band, back stage. The highlight of the whole weekend was watching the epic build in "Lovely Allen", and seeing the crowd erupt. Beautiful.


So the festival was over. Holy Fuck didn't disappoint, and there wasn't a single bad incident. What next? A group of us walked to a local bar for a drink.... I just wasn't feeling it. After all that good music, I couldn't end my weekend at some karaoke bar. A couple Autumn Lovers and I walked down to the LOLA after party. We snuck our way in, and were faced with Megasoid. Magasoid is a two piece remix act, dealing in hip-hop, and electro. There weren't a lot of people watching, but everyone was dancing. A fantastic end to a fantastic weekend.

I think it's finally time to get some rest. On top of all this great live music, I've heard the new albums of Nick Zubeck, Laura Barrett, Squarepusher and TV on the Radio. I'm getting a great music overload. Sleep well my pretties.


Jessica Rae Gordon said...

nicely done post mortem Shawn. I'll definately have to borrow that Laura Barrett CD.

Shawn William Clarke said...

Thanks. RIP.
you may borrow it.

Sam Allen said...

Shawn, Shawn, Shawn...
Tin were great! and Plants and Animals! Damn man.. they were even greater! I really think you need to check out their record 'Parc Avenue' before you count them out... if you weren't into the three piece of the live show, they have it all on the record (all as in lots of instrumentation) and to just through them away as the "it" band... I donno.. thanks to Stephen Harper, I think Holy Fuck are the "it" band right now... and they were still great! as you say... but seriously.. Plants and Animals http://www.myspace.com/plantsandanimals


Shawn William Clarke said...

All right, fine! I'll check out Plants and Animals... I'm just sayin' their live show left something to be desired.