by Michael Thomas
On Friday, Atlas Sound was the big draw to Lee’s Palace, but as you can probably guess, what drew me to the venue were the Canadian acts who preceded him.
Starting the night off was Ontario-born, Brooklyn-based Foxes in Fiction. The duo of Warren Hildebrand and Emily Reo specialized in long, intricate and introspective pop songs, and also weren’t afraid of getting loud when needed. After setting a tone with gentle keys and warm guitar, the enthusiastic audience was more or less spellbound. The softness eventually gave way to some loud guitar work, and Hildebrand said “that was loud” after playing two added-volume songs. Before long, the set had finished to a seemingly endless round of applause. Lee’s, however, isn’t always known for its tremendous sound, so some of the vocals got lost among the noise.
Much like the Toronto Blue Jays as of late, Toronto’s Fresh Snow crush it every time they play. Call their music whatever you want–krautrock, postrock, whatever–but anyone can agree that they amp up the good old-fashioned rock and roll up to about a 25 on a scale of 1 to 10. Thunderous guitars, dizzying keys and meticulous drums elevate their music to incalculable levels. At first it seemed like the audience didn’t know what to make of the four, but before long the band’s ferocity won everyone over. As per usual, Fresh Snow never allowed a quiet moment, even when the drummer at one point needed a new piece for his kick drum. The band is always seamless and can communicate their needs to each other and the sound tech without a single spoken word.
And finally (for me, anyway), Doldrums sparked a frenzied dance party. Airick Woodhead was enthusiastic about playing Lee’s Palace, a venue apparently only a block from where he grew up, and that enthusiasm translated to his set. Credit can be split evenly between Woodhead’s bounciness and the excellent drumming that made the set so appealing. The songs gravitate between industrial sounds on one end to more melodic stuff on the other, meeting in the middle in completely unexpected ways. It’s safe to say Woodhead has found his groove.