Show Reviews! Wilderness of Manitoba! Brooke Manning! ETC!

Had a surprising late weekend of music, and by late I mean my weekend was more Sunday and Monday than Friday and Saturday. First, quickly, I went to Fake Prom Friday night. I had a pretty good time, although for the most part it felt like a normal club with better fashion sense. But the highlight of the evening was the short appearance by the band... I didn't catch their names, the Steamwhistle was a flowin', but what I did catch, was a surprise visit by Sebastien Grangier! I never thought that one day I'd be dancing in 40's get-up to a member of Death From Above singing "Don't Stop Believing". Magical.

Saturday Consisted of watching horror movies. Halloween 2, the original. Hellraiser 2. a lot of sequels.

Sunday night was Wavelength night. On the suggestion of Jennifer Polk, I gathered my friend and photographer Cody Walker and headed down to see a band getting a lot of buzz right now, Wilderness of Manitoba.

Wilderness of Manitoba are cultivating a sound that is pure Canadiana. It's a sound that has flown through some of the finest bands in this great country for decades. There is no reason why they shouldn't be playing the best venues along side the likes of Blue Rodeo, Neil Young, or the Great Lakes Swimmers. Gorgeous harmonies, and a moving cover of Helplessly Hoping made this one of the best shows I've seen all year.

Next up was the Weather Station. Taking a much looser, experimental approach to themes developed by WoM, the energy level was high, and singer/instrumentalist Tamara Lindeman is a captivating personality. Unfortunately they seemed plagued with sound and tuning issues, I'd love to catch them at the top of their game. I'm not sure the name of the percussionist in the band, but he's a serious talent, his interplay with the drummer was a highlight.

On Monday night I headed across Queen St to the store Heartbeat 960. In behind their store, they've converted the grounds into makeshift venue. Playing that night was one of my new favorite voices in the city, Brooke Manning.

The show got to a late start with Fraser Gielen. Fraser is one of those performers I'd love to hear a couple years from now. At his young age he's started to get a great understanding for quirky songwriting, and bouncy finger picking, but his stage presence can use some work, and a stronger grasp on his songs would make for better performance.

Tisso Lake was up next from the U.K. The obvious comparison to Nick Drake came about, but I'm not sure if that had more to do with a lack of knowledge towards British folk. I'd say his voice had more of a Davey Graham vibe, but I may just be showing off. Either way, his guitar playing was more ambiguous than both, adding a far dreamier air to the night.

I've really enjoyed seeing Brooke Manning perform. The first time I saw her it was a solo show, but the addition of a band has taken it to another level. The performers (consisting of lap steel, flute and synth) create a beautiful sound scape, cushioning Brooke's unique voice and guitar playing. The city became a secondary instrument, a passing street car, buzzing air conditioner, wind rustled leaves, added new layers to Manning's performance. She's currently on tour with Tisso Lake, Fraser Gielen, and Wilderness of Manitoba, I suggest checking them out if you're along their tour route.

Well, that's all folks. Check in tomorrow for another addition of This Week in Toronto!!

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