by Michael Thomas
Since first seeing Papermaps back in March (was it really only four months ago?) the band has quickly made it onto the list of bands that I can watch over and over again. Their sheer energy as a unit is infectious, and they have some really kickass songs to boot.
Last night was the final night of their residency at the Drake Hotel and they impressed accordingly.
Opening up the night, though, was Toki Oto, a duo who create some really, really far-out music. One of the two is a didgeridoo player (until last night I had never actually seen a didgeridoo in real life) and the other plays a simple-looking but extremely complex drum pad. The songs get really frantic really quick, and the sounds of the didgeridoo give the music an exotic sound that you really won’t find anywhere else in Toronto.
Next up was a band featuring two members of Papermaps, Wendy Versus. Wendy Leung is the band’s front woman on keys and lead vocals, with Dean Marino on guitar and Owen Norquay on synths and bass guitar. Leung’s backup vocals in Papermaps are exceptional, but as Wendy Versus you really get a sense of her unique voice. As I mentioned in my review of the band’s recent release Crayon Wars, Leung’s slightly lower voice gives the songs some real power.
The set consisted of mostly songs from Crayon Wars, starting with “White Noise” and ending with “Control.” Watching “Juliana” live was even more special, with both Marino and Norquay providing some great vocal harmonies.
It was then time for Papermaps’ final performance as part of their residency. Just like last week, Marino started on stage alone, playing the unbelievably heartbreaking song “Wishful Thinker,” eventually joined by Leung, followed closely by Bobby Lee, Betty Dimo and Todd Harrison.
Following the powerful opening, the band played the entirety of their Inferior Ghost EP, albeit not in sequential order. The powerful “Nobody Gets It” started off the set, followed by “There Are Wolves.” A few songs later the Inferior Ghost part of the set concluded with “Reaction Formation.”
Of course, no Papermaps set is complete without a rendition of “Reunion,” and the set ended with “You Are My Gallows.” After nearly every song (if not every song), Marino thanked the audience, which I saw as a really nice touch. While Marino was fairly calm when he talked between songs, Harrison often interjected with hilarious asides, again showing how close this band really is.
The band is set to play some shows east of Ontario over the next little bit, playing in Montreal and the east coast of Canada. They’ll return to Toronto on August 28th for the Inferior Ghost EP release party.