review and photos by Michael Thomas
Surrounded by a small but loyal crowd and some works from Toronto artist Meghan McKnight, three distinct acts played a suitably intimate show for those who braved the unseasonable cold and occasional ice pellets.
Opening up the night was Brave Parents, a trio originally from Vancouver and now based in Toronto. It was apparently their first show as Brave Parents (or at least that’s what I remember hearing) but the band’s relative newness didn’t show in their set. Armed with two guitars and a drummer, vocalist Shane Turner made for a strong stage presence.
Their sound could be loosely described as “rock” though that wouldn’t do them much justice. There’s a clearly large amount of energy in the three guys, particularly Turner, who put lots of passion into his reverbed vocals and occasional guitar attacks.
Next up was In Medias Res, which was actually just Andrew Lee, the group’s lead vocalist, this time doing things solo. Lee told me before the show that his stuff he does on his own is a little more ambient, and boy is it ever. Right from the get-go, the solo In Medias Res set commanded and kept the audience’s attention.
The songs are were a thrill to listen to as Lee played his guitar, sang or played around with pedals and synthesizer knobs. There’s a clear melancholy to this kind of music, but the eerie beauty is what makes it all so thrilling. About midway through the set Lee said that the reason he writes unhappy-sounding songs is because he’s really happy deep down. Lee ended the set with the In Medias Res cover of Smog’s “Red Apples,” and it may have been even more chilling to behold live.
Closing out the night was Kat Burns’ current project Kashka. Just as Lee was decked out with pedals and boards galore, Burns had a ton of pedals as well along with a guitar and a keyboard. She explained early on that she was playing new tracks from an album she is hoping to record soon.
Her sound gravitated between sparse (when she played the guitar) and warm (when she played keys/synthesizer). She would often loop guitar parts over the course of a song and this made some very textured music. While the crowd seemed very stoic, that illusion was shattered by the end of the performance when Burns had the audience sing a part with her.
An art gallery isn’t the first place one thinks of when one is thinking about venues for shows, but the p|m Gallery turned out to be quite the place for quite the show.