Pre-CMW Nu Music Nite at the Horseshoe

The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12

Date of show: March 20, 2012
Written by: Chiara DiAngelo

On the eve of CMW, while many of the other “smart” bloggers were at home banking sleep, we were taking in a Pre-CMW Nu Music Nite at the Horseshoe. With a line-up this stacked, it was too good to resist.


Rococode

Featuring former members of Said the Whale and Tegan and Sara’s backing band, Rococode are no strangers to the music world. At times dark and depressing, at others, intense and melodic, but always hard-hitting and passionate, Andrew Braun, Johnny Andrews, Laura Smith and Shaun Huberts kicked off the night playing songs off their recently released debut album Guns, Sex & Glory. Co-produced by Ryan Guldemond of Mother Mother, that influence in their sound is evident, especially on the thumping, hauntingly reverb-laden “Dreams” and “Ghost II” on which Smith’s vocals share the same eerie quality of Mother Mother’s Molly Guldemond. Singles “Weapon” and “Empire” had the early crowd on their feet and me singing along. Their set ended with the dramatically intense “Blood” and Smith dancing about the stage clapping the tambourine.

With a riotous stage performance, filled with belting voices, pounding drums and keys, there are big things to come from this band as they continue to take Guns, Sex & Glory across the country.

Rococode @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Rococode @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Rococode @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Rococode @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Rococode @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Rococode @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Rococode @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12


Grounders

Technical difficulties unfortunately delayed the start of Grounders’ set, and with the Horsehsoe operating on a strict CMW schedule, they were left with 20 minutes to perform. They did what they could with the time they had and were able to pull out an impressive set, that featured guitarist/keyboardist Dan Busheikin wrapping himself in Christmas lights, and even inspiring some interpretive dancing in the crowd.

The bright bell-like keys paired with Andrew Davis’ ghostly vocals on “Along the Line” get me every time. This band has all the makings to be Toronto’s next big experimental indie group and our answer to the now defunct Wolf Parade; I’m looking forward to watching them progress and hoping to finally get my hands on a recording, hopefully in the near future!

Grounders @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Grounders @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Grounders @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Grounders @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Grounders @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Grounders @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12


Mike O’Neill

Backed by The Pinecones, Mike O’Neill took the stage next. With many fans of his 90’s band The Inbreds in the crowd, there was obvious anticipation hanging in the air as they set up.

Playing straight-up old school pop rock with a smooth retro 70’s feel and easy loping harmonies, the band performed songs off O’Neill’s new record Wild Lines, with the highlight for me being “I Only Have One Pair of Shoes,” a song about an invisible man. With a Neil Young-esque twang to his voice, O’Neill also played “Andy,” which some may recognize as a cover made popular by Neko Case. Their set came to a triumphant end complete with swinging guitars, leg kicks, and jumps.

A seasoned performer, O’Neill was graceful and appreciative, thanking the “very nice audience” for being so polite and encouraging throughout his set. The band packed up the stage as the packed house demanded one more song. Unfortunately having to adhere to CMW time schedules meant that this sadly just couldn’t be delivered.

Mike O'Neill @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Mike O'Neill @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Mike O'Neill @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Mike O'Neill @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Mike O'Neill @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 Mike O'Neill @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12


The Stone Sparrows

A four-piece country folk band based out of Toronto, The Stone Sparrows are Sam Balson (vocals, mandolin, guitar, harmonica), Oliver Ward (fiddle, guitar, vocals), James Gorry (upright bass) and Meghan Patrick (vocals, guitar, banjo). Playing an upbeat twang-filled set that had a country hoedown feel to it at times, they had the crowd dancing away. The dynamic between Balson and Patrick’s belting vocals is really something special, but it was perhaps Ward’s expert fiddling that truly won me over. With her mother in the audience, Patrick dedicated “Wild Spaces” to her, which ended on a slow and emotional note, complete with harmonica and fiddle solo. They closed out their set with the upbeat single “Cold Out Sunshine.”

The Stone Sparrows are currently working on an EP in follow-up to their 2011 self-titled CD.

The Stone Sparrows @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Stone Sparrows @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Stone Sparrows @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Stone Sparrows @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Stone Sparrows @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12


The Love Machine

Allan Gauthier (guitar, vocals), Sean Prescott (guitar, vocals), Jordan David (bass, vocals) and Mike Laing (drums) of The Love Machine closed out the night. Starting with a band high-five, David then asked the crowd “Who likes Adele? Cool. Me too. This is a new song” before launching into perhaps the most endearingly adorable set I’ve ever experienced.

With the three frontmen sharing lead vocals, their different styles give different sounds to each of the songs. What never changed however was the level of passion in their performance and the happiness they exuded from being on stage. They played songs off their record Sweater Weather, including heavier rock song “Width Eyes” and the ever infectious “J.C. & The Gamblers”, as well as their Big Money Shot single “The Good Life”, which oozes with the essence of summertime. They also threw in a cover of “Hounds of Love” saying “Kate Bush, this one’s for you.”

Best awkward stage banter? Check. Best awkward rendition of the robot by David? Double check. While their song “No Matter” may start with the lyric “you’re not rock stars, or maybe you are,” it is completely obvious that these guys definitely are rock stars in their own right.

The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12 The Love Machine @ Horseshoe Tavern, 20-03-12

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Categories: Live Music

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2 Comments on “Pre-CMW Nu Music Nite at the Horseshoe”

  1. hmm
    March 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM #

    mike o’neill wrote ‘andy’, neko case’s version is a cover.

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