The Gazette's North by Northeast festival picks

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Most Likely to Be From Another Planet: Mother Mother (The Boat)
It’s hard to describe this Vancouver band. With the lead singer resembling a timid blonde college boy, the sound coming from this quintet seemed unnatural to hear during its first-night set. Mother Mother went onstage dressed in sharp matching black suits and dresses, immediately releasing a plethora of unconventional sounds, from robotic synchronized female harmonies to alien-like angelic vocals to cooing chipmunks. Following the same no-structure trend as Deerhoof, each song kept the audience’s interest until the very end.

Most Hyper Band: The Ghost is Dancing (Sneaky Dee’s)
With eight band members and a song simply titled “Running Song,” The Ghost is Dancing set was like watching unlikely characters bond at a random party. You had the nerd, the preppie, the flashy ‘80s-inspired showman, the cute girls, the skater boy, the awkward guy and the grungy bearded free spirit. Think of every instrument possible " recorder, trumpet, accordion and violin " and they played it, switching instruments after every song. This version of musical chairs wasn’t as hectic as it seemed. Instead, it boasted the band’s talent and genre-mixing, creating a peppier and poppier Broken Social Scene.

Couple You Should Be Jealous Of: Handsome Furs (Comfort Zone)
The venue was at capacity last Friday as a sea of heads skimmed Comfort Zone’s low ceilings to hear Wolf Parade’s Vocalist Dan Boeckner and his fiancée Alexei Perry play together as Handsome Furs. The duo created a brilliant sound with repetitive drum machine beats and minimal guitar riffs, reminiscent of a more electronic Jesus and Mary Chain. Despite Boeckner’s hauntingly dark vocals, what made the set near perfect was the chemistry between the 80s punk-looking pair. Perry’s infectious smiles and Boeckner’s passionate vocals from the opening song, “What We Had,” to the closing Tom Petty cover gave the crowd reason to ditch all the other bands.

Most Likely to Wear Sunglasses at Night While Head Banging: You Say Party! We Say Die! (Legendary Horseshoe Tavern)
If there’s one word to describe this band, it’s ‘eclectic’. Going from country to dance-punk might not seem right, but this West Coast act dashed away any skepticism. Inspiring a mosh pit in the front rows with songs off the recently acclaimed record Lose All Time, the band wasted no time in delivering songs like “Goodnight Downtown Mayors, Alley Kids Rule!” to the unruly mob. Singer Becky Ninkovic led the assault, often stopping mid-song to engage the audience in a clap-along as they bounced in front of the stage " one fan even made an ill-advised attempt at body surfing.

Best Rule-Breaking Band: The Carps (The Silver Dollar)
The Carps have created a new genre: electro hard-rock R&B. Vocalist Jahmal Tonge’s funky R&B vocals and stylistic drumming battled Neil White’s heavy Death From Above 1979 bass riffs and electronic loops. The Scarborough natives are well on their way to becoming the next Bloc Party. Tonge never missed a beat, belting out soulful trills, drumming a mile a minute while White rocked his black Badtz-Maru bass. By the end of the night, every hand was up in the air jumping to the soca beat of “AllTheDamnKids.”

Most Likely To Make Teenage Girls Weep In the Next Five Years: Two Hours Traffic (Legendary Horseshoe Tavern)
Every time these youngsters hit the stage, they get better. The newest protégés of the legendary Joel Plaskett, Two Hours Traffic hails from Prince Edward Island. Taking the stage in the wee hours of the morning, this band reinvigorated a crowd that had been on its feet for over five hours. With the front row singing along with every song off their most recent EP, Isolator, Two Hours Traffic proved they have more than enough hooks to satisfy any audience. Tracks like “Stuck for the Summer” kept weary eyes open and tired heads bopping even as the clock neared 3 a.m..

Most Likely To Make London Funky Once Again: God Made Me Funky (Yonge and Dundas Square)
Playing on Saturday afternoon, God Made Me Funky (GMMF) took over Yonge and Dundas square, bringing a pile of funk with them to spill onto the audience. Ignore the innuendo. Waking a crowd ranging from five year olds to grandparents, this eclectic act relied on crowd participation and its own exuberance to get the party started. Performing covers of hip hop classics and their own material, including “If You’re Funky and You Know It,” GMMF seemed to be having more fun than the audience. No matter how ridiculous things got on stage, the crowd seemed happy to follow. Who wouldn’t want to get their funk on?

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