by Michael Thomas
“I know the saying is that it takes a community to raise a child, but it takes a community to release a fucking record,” the keyboardist/vocalist of Hands & Teeth said before the band launched into their final number, “Hunting Season.” And what a community it was for the Toronto band’s CD release show. Bands from several different Canadian cities converged on the Horseshoe Tavern for an excellent Tuesday tradition, Nu Music Nite.
Opening off the night was Sidney York. Me being as uninformed as I was, I realized that Sidney York was the name of a collective group and not just a singer-songwriter. The band hails from Vancouver and features, aside from the usual instruments, an oboe and a bassoon. Both instruments got solos at some point during the set.
I was quite impressed by the lead singer’s talent with instruments- she played guitar, ukulele, piano and even a French horn once. The band’s compositions were deliciously complex, but the number that got everyone going was one that involved a ukulele and lots of audience participation.
Following the Vancouver group was Toronto duo Army Girls. Consisting of one guy and one girl, the outfit had a reverse White Stripes look to them, with Andy Smith on drums and Carmen Elle on guitar.
The act was refreshing in that it was just two people making the Horseshoe’s stage look gigantic, but also in the ferocity with which Elle played her guitar. She was on her knees for at least one great solo and even once played the guitar behind her back. You just don’t see those types of rock and roll antics much on stage anymore.
It was then time for Hands & Teeth to take the stage in support of their album Hunting Season, released yesterday as well. The band packed the floor in front of the stage, and started their first number slowly, with each band member coming onto the stage individually and picking up an instrument. They organically built up quite a crescendo and it was a treat to watch.
I was seriously impressed with the band’s proficiency- save for the drummer, the band’s other four musicians switched instruments readily and I don’t believe there was one song in the whole set that had the same instrumental configuration as another. As well, I was surprised to find out that four out of five of the band members sing, too! In a few places they did four-part vocal harmonies which blew me away, as harmonies are one of my favourite things ever.
The set consisted of mostly songs from Hunting Season (it was their release show after all) with songs like “Missing” and “Le Petit Voleur.” They also threw in a song or two from Enjoy Your Lifestyle such as the dark and sombre “Rainbows and Unicorns.” They ended their set, as I mentioned earlier, with the song “Hunting Season.” It was a triumphant end to an energetic collection of songs, and I could hear other people yelling back “I said I’m glad to meet ya/You know I know you know I know.”
Those who stuck around after Hands & Teeth’s set were lucky enough to see Honheehonhee, a band that has gotten many mentions on this blog (and for good reason). Once again, their set (the eight songs from Shouts) kicked all kinds of ass.
At this point, the Montreal band has my heart in its grip- their shows are so consistently energetic and catchy that I would see them do the same set ten times and probably not be bored. They ended their set (as they ended their set at El Mocambo in December) with “We Only Go,” only this time the men in the band took off their shirts. If that wasn’t crazy enough, members of Sidney York and Hands & Teeth joined the band during the repetition of the “Woah, woah, eh eh” hook of the song.
The night overall was an excellent one- the energy level rarely dipped and the bands brought a sizable crowd for a Tuesday night.
Included below is Hands & Teeth performing “Help Me”, and the aforementioned Honheehonhee performance of “We Only Go.”