by Elena Gritzan
Last night was the second evening of Wavelength’s Thirteenth Anniversary festival, but it was the real start to the party. There hadn’t been much dancing at the festival yet, just head-bobbing and foot-tapping, but this time, people let down their guard, let loose, and moved their hips to the beat. Considering that the show was co-presented with Silent Shout, the dancing should not have been a surprise, but the addition of a stellar sound system and a room full of good vantage points made it all the more memorable.
Things got off to a start with guitars though, with THIGHS set up on the floor in front of the stage with a stack of amps behind them. The tower of amps equated to a tower of sound; their jerky, dancey punk was massive. Vocalist Mark Colborne moved his microphone stand further into the audience as the set went on, eventually knocking it over and continuing to wail into the microphone anyway.
The stage was re-occupied by Blonde Elvis (and as the NXNE twitter account pointed out, no one in the band is in fact blonde). Jesse James Laderoute proclaimed love for the Black Box Theatre housing the event: “This is one of the nicest rooms in the city, I wish shows happened here more often. I’m rarely sincere, but I’m sincere about that.” Laderoute was charmingly sarcastic in between solid guitar pop songs.
I said on Thursday that one of my hopes for this festival was for Blue Hawaii’s first set in Toronto to be better in real life than in my imagination (and those are high expectations, my friends). Spoiler alert: they succeeded. It was incredible. Singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston started by crouching behind the table housing all of their electronic gear, remarking that she could do the whole show obscured behind it. “We all have options in life,” she said. They didn’t give us the option of not dancing, though – it was impossible not to move at least a little to their flowing synths and punctuated bass beats.
Their non-stop flow weaved together songs from their upcoming album Untogether, with Standell-Preston’s voice sounding as ethereal and beautiful than ever. They finished with the already-released “In Two II”, at a pace almost twice that of the recorded version. The applause as they finished was immense. To the rest of the bands playing this weekend: this is the set to beat.
That’s not to say that Cadence Weapon wasn’t a lot of fun. He dove right into it: “It’s after one song and I already spilled my alcohol for the set!” He was high on crowd interaction, jumping down into the front to rap directly to a circle of fans, and leading call-and-responses on “Real Estate” and “Loft Party”. He debuted a new song, about going to shows, titled “Come See Me”. Super fitting for the solid crowd of people who seemed to have come for exactly that, dancing and singing along enthusiastically.
The show also served as a record release party for Doldrums’ Lesser Evil. They have a fourth member on stage since the last time I saw them, Flow Child’s Kyle Jukka, working some electronics. Some technical difficulties plagued the beginning of the set, but they recovered quickly, being amusingly snarky towards impatient audience members and starting off with a flowy, strong rendition of “Anamoly”.
They brought Cadence Weapon back on stage to do “Get on Down”, and played “The Loco-Motion” as an intro to usual closing combination of “Jump Up” and “Egypt”. Daniel Woodhead spent most of last song lying on his back hitting a tambourine as Airick Woodhead moved around stage. People were screaming, singing, and jumping, though I did get the sensation that the sound system that had done so many wonders for the previous bands was delivering Doldrums with too much bass.
This is going to be a hard night to beat for the rest of the weekend, Wavelength, but if anyone can do it, it’s you.
Join us for night three of the festival tonight upstairs in The Great Hall.