Today, we bring you picks from Pinky!
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10. Writers’ Strike @ The Seahorse, Halifax, NS
During the first week of 2012 Writers’ Strike sold out the Seahorse for the release of their “Stay Down” 7” inch. I’ve seen them dozens of times, but this was in a packed room full of people ready to party, and Writers’ Strike delivered like I’d never seen before. Songs I have known for ages felt fresh and revived, and the band was in top form, feeding off the crowd energy. There were balloons, sing-alongs, special guests, you name it. I went right from this show to the airport to wait for a 5:00am flight to Toronto. I was sweating vodka, my suitcase was duct-taped together, my shirt collar was ripped and I had confetti on my hat and I had just spent three hours sleeping on a bench at the airport, but I was still smiling because this show was just superb.
9. VKNGS @ The Khyber, Halifax NS
Photo by Evan Pooley
VKNGS are the kind of live band that rumble your guts. I want them to play at my funeral. They are the best band in Halifax, and if they played more than once a year I think people would slowly start to develop vertigo.
8. Force Fields @ Messtival, Anagance NB
There is nothing I could explain to you about seeing Force Fields at Messtival in New Brunswick that you can’t fathom from seeing the above photo for yourself. I’m not sure if this year topped their set from last year when Kyle Cunjak peed his pants twenty minutes into their non-stop 45 minute set, or one time when I saw them taking turns walking up to each other mid-set and casually ripping bits of each others’ arm hair out, but Nick Cobham violently hurling copies of their old EP into the dancing hippy masses and silently mouthing stage banter into an over-extended microphone boom stand came pretty darn close.
7. The Wooden Sky @ Spatz Theatre, Halifax NS
Photo by Scott Blackburn
I’ve seen The Wooden Sky play in bars both full and empty, but it was an entirely different experience seeing them in a theatre setting. Without the pressure to play louder than the average drunken bar patrons, the subtle parts that shine through on their albums were finally able to be heard. Their set list was a proper blend of fan favorites and softer material that translated perfectly to the atmosphere of the Spatz Theatre. With a silent room and the glow of their giant “WS” stage lights, The Wooden Sky proved that versatile music will translate well in any setting.
6. Failure Epics @ The Seahorse (HPX), Halifax NS
Photo by Scott Blackburn
I’ve been a fan of Jon Epworth ever since I moved to Halifax in 2004 and he was playing with every band ever. He’s always been one of my favorite songwriters, but above all he’s always been a wonder for me to watch play the drums. He’s a man of many inspirations and projects, but after moving to Ontario a few years ago it’s been some time since A) I’ve seen him live at all and B) seen him behind a drum kit.
Halifax Pop Explosion took care of that though, and I got to experience Jon’s prog/psych/art-metal project Failure Epics in full force in October. Jon has clearly spent the last few years honing his craft even more as the band completely destroyed their set, keeping the crowd locked in at every angular turn-around that came up. With Jon on drums/vocals, the members of Glory Glory filled out the rest of the backing band alongside Halifax wunderkind Jason Vautour, and it was a as much a music lesson for some as it was a rock show for others. I would have been rocking out if only I could stop standing still and staring at Jon, wondering how the fuck one person can play the drums as hard and as fast as him and still be able to sing lead. He’s a wonder to behold, and someone you should try and catch every time he rolls into town.
5. Charles Bradley @ Jazz Fest Main Tent, Halifax NS
When Charles Bradley let out his first scream of the night I’d bet half of Downtown Halifax felt it in their spine. Playing to a sold out crowd in a tent on the waterfront, Bradley owned the stage with his incredible voice, stylish costume changes and his beaming smile that never left his face. To say Charles Bradley is humble would be an understatement, I’ve never felt so appreciated for being in an audience. With some of the best soul musicians in the business backing him up the band was in top form, extending key parts of his best songs and being on top of every shot, hit and pause Charles threw at them. I wasn’t alive for the 60s soul movement, but I’m seriously considering one of those jumpsuits.
4. M83 @ Sound Academy, Toronto ON
M83 as a live band were exactly what I wanted, loud, lush and full of energy. What put this show over the threshold of “cool rock show” however, were the lights. Holy shit the lights. With a starry night draped behind them, M83’s light show gave a you sense that you were in some sort of neon-psychedelic disco dream world. Add that to the fact that I was on the guestlist, took a pretty girl with me, and was able to stay and hang out with the band and other guest-listers in this weird VIP bar they opened up after the show, I’d chalk this up as a pretty swell night all around.
3. Evening Hymns @ Bus Stop Theatre, Halifax NS
The only reason I can fathom Spectral Dusk by Evening Hymns isn’t showing up on every year-end album list in existence is simply because it hasn’t reached enough ears yet. There is no way you can put that album on, close your eyes and not feel slightly changed once it’s done. Jonas Bonnetta’s tribute to his recently deceased father may be starkly personal, but his ability to manifest his pain and frustration into such a mature, modest and naturally beautiful album deserves accolades.
The Bus Stop theatre was a perfectly intimate setting for Jonas to open up about both his father and his family, and his stories and songs were all the more special for me as my own dad surprised me with a visit and came to the show. Sitting there with him and watching Jonas sing about the values and qualities he inherited from his deceased father was a genuinely surreal experience, and something I re-live every time I listen to the album. If you missed out on the Evening Hymns tour supporting Spectral Dusk then you’re out of luck - Bonnetta has said many times he would be shelving this material in his live set after the completion of his tour. You can only spend so many nights singing songs like this.
2. Father John Misty @ The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON
Before Father John Misty began his set on a Monday night at the Horseshoe tavern, a giant wooden triangle draped with a white sheet emerged from back stage, being passed over the packed crowd in an awkward, inconvenient fashion to eventually be placed on stage behind the drum kit. After a brief joke about setting it on fire at the beginning of the set it was NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. It was weird and unexpected, but it quickly became apparent that that’s the kind of night I was in for.
People usually walk into rock shows with moderate expectations that are frequently met. For example, I expected to see a great songwriter play some great songs that night in Toronto, but I didn’t expect a wailing, tortured madman captivating an entire room and just warping our worlds for an hour. J Tillman has flung himself head on into the character and idea of Father john Misty, and from antagonizing hecklers, to encouraging people to be sharper and wittier with their outbursts to smoking a joint on stage, it took no time at all for everyone in the room to shut up and pay attention to everything he was doing. It was all eyes on Tillman as he performed pretty much the entire “Fear Fun” album whilst strutting and flailing around the stage, at times a proud peacock, other times rolling around in beer, simultaneously parodying and behaving like the tortured artist people expect him to be. No one wasn’t completely in awe of his charisma. Father John Misty might just be the newest and best breed of rock Icon, and I feel like he’s just getting started.
1. Refused @ Metropolis, Montreal QC
This was not only the best show of the year; it will probably remain forever as the best show of my life. Nothing could ever top my unfaltering love of Refused combined with the feeling that something I had long ago reserved myself to accept wasn’t possible was happening directly in front of me. This was 2300 people in a sweaty, loud theatre all having the best night of their lives. I’ve never felt like I was at a show with thousands of other people who were all feeling the exact same mixture of wonder and excitement, having our collective high expectations met and then surpassed. I will never, ever in my life forget the night I saw Refused, and neither will anyone else who was there.
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You can check out Tiffany's Top 10 Favorite Shows HERE
Stay tuned for Dan's Top 10 tomorrow!