by Michael Thomas
CMW has finally figured out that no one goes to show on Sundays, but seemingly in making the decision to end the annual festival on a Saturday meant they forgot to stock Tuesday with some must-see acts. Luckily the always-dependable Exhale was thinking about Tuesday, in the form of a great five-act bill at Clinton’s.
Starting off the night was Indoor Voices, whose name is surprisingly apt. Not only do they speak quietly and calmly in between songs, but they also have a quiet calm about them. Their pop-rock sounds never got too loud, and it didn’t need to. At first they seemed like they were going to be a huge jam band (a keys player almost always means psychedelia is possible) but the band’s two vocalists did sing from time to time. It’s a shame that the lyrics were not very high in the sound mix, otherwise they would have been hypnotic. By the end, they had without warning picked up a groove, so this band can probably do anything they want to.
Then came a very complicated electronic stage setup for Adverteyes. Apparently they are usually a six-piece band (god knows what a stage full of gear for six band members would like look here) but having recently released a remix album. are trying out a two-man show. The performance would have made Bertolt Brecht proud. There were many mistakes, all pointed out by one of the two band members as he made each one. The actual songs were astounding once they got going—all kinds of layers of drum beats manipulated vocals and plenty of keys.
Speaking of complicated stage setups, there was so much equipment for Allegories that it would probably take a whole review to describe it. But that aside, the two alligator-masked gentlemen were the undoubted highlight of the night. Their mashup of many genres of music is kind of like what Royal Canoe does, but with a vocal style one might expect from The Ghost is Dancing. There was no banter in between songs, just a flow of synthesized beats, drumming and passionate vocals, and culminating in some brutal double drumming that surprisingly did not break their drumsticks or drum kit.
The midnight slot went to Hamilton/Guelph/Peterborough/Toronto band The Medicine Hat. When looking at their instrument choice—one guitar, one bass, one drum kit, some keyboards and an accordion—it would be hard to imagine such a band being so fiery. There is a passion that burns brightly in these purveyors of pop-rock, shown in things like vocal shouts or just the way the keyboard player bashes the keys when the plays. With a couple of new songs in tow, the Medicine Hat proved that an accordion can belong in any type of music it’s thrown into.
Finally, the bill was topped off with Sudbury “supergroup” the Almighty Rhombus, and what a pleasure it is to note that their brand of rock is some of the most unpretentious out there. There’s something so refreshing about being able to hear vocals, and even witness a few electric guitar solos. After breezing through four or five songs, the band covered a Thrush Hermit song, because why not?
Exhale still has two showcases left. Make it out to one; you won’t regret it.