Date of show: January 7, 2011
Shot of choice: Jameson
The Cheap Speakers put on a rockin’ set. The quartet is comprised of Brennan Gault (vocals, bass), Natalia Manzocco (guitar, vocals), Tim Dafoe (guitar, vocals), and David Kochberg (drums, vocals). There is a fiery energy that Gault possesses as he belts out with what seems like all of his lung capacity. In fact, he seemed to be losing a bit of his voice towards the end of the set. Manzocco sings with equal passion but provides balance to Gault’s fire and takes the lead on more dreamy pop songs like “Love Affair”.
This power-pop quartet is a heavy hitter live, taking few breaks between songs except to give thanks to the crowd and the other bands with which they shared the stage. They are loud, with tuneful riffs from Dafoe and skillful rhythm work from Kochberg, but they are also melodic. The band works well together and they put on a great set to end off the night of solid indie.
The Maladies of Adam Stokes easily had the biggest turnout of the night. They also had the most energetic and drunk fans, dancing, cheering and yelling right up front. The Maladies of Adam Stokes is a six-piece band based out of Toronto comprised of Michael Hill (vocals, guitar), Kohji Nagata (guitar, vocals), Josh Awerbuck (guitar, vocals), Emily Anderson (piano, violin, vocals), Brett Harris (bass) and Ted Turner (drums). Their sound rides the line between folk and rock, with some mellower tunes followed by some energy-filled tunes. Based on what I heard, it is not surprising that the band cites The Wooden Sky as an artist they like.
It wasn’t a perfect set though, as multi-instrumentalist Nagata was plagued with technical difficulties. It almost seemed as though nothing was working out for him, including the trumpet, which Hill excused as being new. Fans did not seem to really notice, as the crowd participated in group handclaps and singing along. Hill’s vocals are moving, complemented by lovely harmonies. The Maladies of Adam Stokes put on an impressive and enjoyable set.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was sent The Fires Of album, which I felt was a strong debut. Fortunately, they also sound strong live, quite possibly even better live. The Fires Of is a seven-piece indie pop band made up of Graeme Donnelly (vocals, bass), Chris Hayward (vocals, bass, guitar) Lisa Di Diodato (vocals, guitar), Larry Yuan (vocals, keyboard), Peyton Leung (violin, percussion), Steve Canning (guitar), Greg Heard (drums).
The crowd seemed to grow throughout The Fires Of’s set. There is something comforting in the 4-part harmonies, melded so well with their often classically familiar sound. Their layers suit their sound, not overpowering in spite of being a larger band. On stage, the band works well together with a controlled energy. The enthusiasm is there, but they seem to mostly let the music speak for itself. It was a solid set from this Toronto-based band.
The crowd was a little sparse starting out the night, with most of the crowd hanging out in the seats. Toronto-based Graydon James & The Young Novelists opened up the night. Graydon James fronts a six-piece folk/roots rock band. The 5 individuals make up The Young Novelists are Noel Di Tosto (guitar, trumpet), Shawn Jurek (bass, vocals), Alex Dodd (keys), Mike Paddags (drums, vocals), and Lara Martin on vocals, who was filling in for new mother Laura Spink.
Their set was full of heartfelt and sometime cheeky lyrics (see “alyson, everything i know is wrong”). This six-piece maximizes their size with layers of instrumentation and beautiful 4-part harmonies. I’ve been hearing great things about Graydon James, particularly after the release of goodnight, young novelist, an impressive 40-track double-album. I must say that Graydon James & The Young Novelists lived up to the good things I’ve heard and I’m looking forward to catching them again.