Concert Review: AUTOPORTRAIT, BOCCE, RIVAL BOYS, KIDSTREET (2011-12-16 @ The Garrison)
On a cold winter night, there’s nothing that gets the blood flowing better than warm synths and catchy beats – fortunately both were in full supply when The Garrison played host to Waterloo electro-pop mainstays BOCCE, and KIDSTREET, as well as indie rock up-and-comers RIVAL BOYS.
Not being one to typically dance at a show, this great lineup managed to coax out my limited dance floor moves (much to the dismay of those in my vicinity, I’m sure).
BOCCE hit the stage first after my arrival and announced that they would be treating the audience to “Future Bocce”, as they would only be playing brand new material. I was glad to hear this, as I’ve been listening to their excellent Disambiguation LP for a while now and was itching for more; they did not disappoint, quickly getting straight down to business, with tons of synths; consistent, driving drumbeats; and vocoder-drenched vocals.
If KIDSTREET is the mainstream electro-pop act from Waterloo, BOCCE is their weird younger brother. During the first three songs I came to the conclusion that they would be completely at home dressed in silver jumpsuits. So shortly thereafter, when frontman Tony Salomone announced that their fourth song was ABOUT silver jumpsuits, I could barely contain myself!
There were a few hiccups in the set, notably when Salomone’s vocals cut out for the majority of the last song due to a malfunction in his complex processing set up, but overall it was a great, high-energy, jetpack-themed set.
Next up were RIVAL BOYS: they were the only act I didn’t know beforehand, but they came highly recommended. I was immediately impressed by their songwriting, which I would describe as indie-grunge with country/folk elements mixed in; and as a three-piece, they have a big sound – I especially loved their bass growl. Vocalist/bassist Lee Rose also pulled out her violin for a few songs, which provided some nice variety. Performance-wise, drummer Sam Sholdice was the star, as he beat the skins mercilessly and with charisma. There is something supremely satisfying in seeing a left-handed drummer completely kill it on a right-handed kit.
The quartet played a selection of songs from their LP Mutual Feelings of Love, as well as their upbeat version of “Frosty The Snowman” – quite fitting for a show so close to the holidays. They had a great ability to alternate between loud “rock out” moments, and softer violin-tinged harmonies. Although, to echo a friend who has reviewed them in the past, I did find myself wishing they had a fourth member to play bass during the times when Lee took up her violin. I was very impressed though, and will definitely be seeing them again.
The final act of the night was Waterloo electro-pop trio KIDSTREET. Edna, Karl, and Cliff, the three siblings that make up the band, have been making a name for themselves recently with their debut LP Fuh Yeah, released back in September. They’ve also secured a licensing deal with Ford, played prominent festival slots, and have opened for the likes of Girl Talk, Mother Mother and Dragonette – making them a real buzz act, and deservedly so.
They opened with their instrumental, “Song”, after which Edna announced they would be debuting some new material. I was pleased to hear the new songs, which were a lot more ethereal, spacey and M83-reminiscent than their beat-heavy older catalogue. Edna’s vocals especially delved into a different, more reverb-drenched space compared to the past, which was nice.
After the first few songs, they dove back into material from their LP with “X”, and the typical KIDSTREET dance party began. The siblings use a lot of warm synths and strong beats to keep the audience moving, so if anything, they’re consistent: a KIDSTREET show is always a party.
I’ve been waiting for a while for them to really make an impact, and with their recent relocation to Toronto, LP release, and consistently awesome live show, they are truly poised on the brink of breaking out.
Overall it was a great night at The Garrison: new material was debuted, old material was grooved to and surly new fans were made all around. Every act here was a must-see, so if you get a chance to catch any of these bands in the future, jump on it!
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Our reviewer was not present for Toronto pop quartet Autoportait, though we hear they're swell - check out photos of their performance along with the rest below]
Review by SHAWN BURGESS
Photos by LIZ GARERI