by Michael Thomas
Love was in the air for Wavelength 15’s second night—Valentine’s Day. And while that love seemed to exist in adoration for the five bands who graced the stage, the relationship between equipment and bands was a little more strained.
Opening the night in propulsive fashion was Montreal trio Ginla. After a bit of electronic ambiance, the music took on a whole new life as the drummer added some pounding beats. The band crafted loud, synthy soundscapes, and added a bit more emotion as the guitarist contributed vocals. Those vocals could have been higher in the mix (although, to be fair, most vocalists that night were too low), but Ginla still served as a mighty fine warmup for what was to come.
The almost-instrumental Ginla was a nice transition into the completely instrumental Last Ex, who play moody, atmospheric music. Most easily described as an instrumental Timber Timbre, the keys, guitar and drums made for a killer combination. The band got off to a bit of a rough start when they messed up a song, but once they righted themselves they put the audience into a trance, The effect lingered when the band left the stage, as the melody of the last song played on keys played by itself for at least a minute more.
It was the CD release show for the great Del Bel, and the sextet got off to a great start with the killer Del Bel opening track “In My Solitude.” But soon after, tragedy struck when Tyler Belluz’s synthesizer stopped working, and it took a very long time to get it back up and running. Del Bel were surprisingly able to grin and bear it, still managing to pull out a great collection of songs, from the action-packed “The Stallion” to the creepy “Old Magic.” And to top it all off, they covered an appropriately Valentines-themed song that truly put them in the audience’s heart.
Don’t call it a reunion, but The Acorn finally made a triumphant return with a set composed mostly of new material. Rolf Klausener makes for an excellent front man, starting the set wearing a parka and seemingly concerned about how sexy Toronto was (so concerned was he that he threw condoms to the crowd after the second song). As for the material itself, it buzzed with the same kind of strength and warm that has made The Acorn so compelling since Pink Ghosts. Everything just hums along so perfectly—hard to explain, but essential to watch.
Equipment would also fail headliner Lowell, but considering all that went on in her roughly 40-minute set, the power failure seemed like only a small piece of the puzzle. Elizabeth Boland is a charismatic and energetic performer, who literally began the set by running through the crowd in a light-strewn outfit before diving into the killer “Cloud 69.” Halfway through the next song, “Palm Trees,” a power failure hit the equipment, forcing Boland to improvise. She rapped through a megaphone and was prepared to sing one of her songs through it when the power was finally, mercifully restored.
From them on, things went smoothly, and Boland kept the party going by throwing glow sticks to the audience, followed by throwing fake dollar bills, of course to the catchy “I Love You Money.” After breaking out a new song or two, she ended things with “The Bells,” arguably a perfect pop song. As balloons started to appear in the audience, the second night of Wavelength truly was a party.