Tag Archives: Attack in Black

SappyFest 2010, Sackville, NB
30/07 – 01/08/2010

In the fall of 2006 I saw Shotgun & Jaybird play in my hometown of Oshawa. It was the only time I ever got to see them play, but it really changed my life. I’ve told the whole story here before, but in fewer words, that was the night I discovered the great festival that is SappyFest, which I had the pleasure of attending in 2008, 2009, and again just this month. It’s actually the end of the month now – I’m not sure what’s taken me so long to get down to writing, but if I wait any longer no one will care anymore.

This year for SappyFest I decided to go for an entire week instead of the usual 3-4 days. Part of the reason I went for longer was so that I could just relax in a nice environment, but I also wanted to check out more of Ok.Quoi?!, an arts festival that happens each year in the week leading up to SappyFest. I went to a roundtable discussion about public art installations, listened to some live experimental music, saw a ton of amazing short films and animations, and even participated in the “Consensus Bus” (a free bus trip open to anyone, but everyone who comes has to agree on the destination).

Of course, SappyFest itself was another fine 3 days of music, with a whole lot of my friends and favourite bands playing this year that was a given, but there were also a few new discoveries along the way. I had planned to shoot a lot of video during the festival, but of course, once I’m having fun I tend to “forget” my camera when I go out… but I did manage to capture two bands from the first night. Neither band should need any introduction for readers of this website as I’ve shot them both many times before.

Toronto’s best party band Steamboat played to a packed mainstage tent in what I believe was their first out-of-town gig! The response from the crowd was enthusiastic, and the band had another chance to get people dancing when they did another set (with plenty of special guest vocalists), closing out the festival on Sunday night at George’s Fabulous Roadhouse.

Finally, here’s Attack in Black playing a few songs. Lots of new material in their set, really hope they record them and make another album.

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NXNE 2010, Toronto
17/06 – 19/06/2010

Well, I’ve been putting off writing this for days now and I really don’t think I can wait any longer. This year, like the last two years, I attended North-By-North-East. I decided to make more of an effort this year to check out multiple shows each night and in the end I did pretty well. As usual though, I ended up gravitating towards bands I already know and love rather than checking out new stuff. Here’s my weekend, day-by-day.


My night started at The Great Hall, a 120-year-old building at Queen and Dovercourt that recently started hosting concerts. It was my first time there, though I’d previously been to The Theater Center (which is in the same building). The Great Hall is a similar room, with a balcony wrapping around the room, but instead of seats in the middle, the main floor is entirely flat, which I guess explains the “hall” part of its name. I didn’t get too close to the stage, prefering to lurk in the shadows underneath the balcony, but the sightlines were good from wherever I stood. This would be thanks to the high stage, which reminds me of a miniature version of the one you would find a The Opera House or The Phoenix. Together with some great lighting and sound made for a pretty fine place to see some music.

The first band I saw was Women, who I last saw at the Horseshoe in March 2009, during CMW. The Calgary quartet’s first album came out in 2008 and I can’t say I’ve listened to it more than a handful of times, but I remember liking much of it. Unfortunately, the band really stayed a bit too still for my liking and my excitement waned early on. Still, the new songs were solid.

Taking the stage after them was LA’s Best Coast, who I caught last time they were in town back in April. I liked ‘em then, and I liked them here too. Good songs, good style, looking forward to hearing their album.

I left after a few songs, hoping to catch Metz at The Garrison, but by the time I arrived they’d finished playing. Nevertheless, DD/MM/YYYY were about to take the stage, so I decided to stick around because it had been a long time since I’d seen them play. I’ve never really connected with their music in the past and my attitude didn’t change too much this time, but I do appreciate what they do more than before. Their long repetitive grooves reminded me of Oneida, which I liked. They’re fun to watch and while the music isn’t always my thing, they obviously work very hard and I can back that.

I hurried over to the Kelp Records showcase at Clinton’s, and caught a bit of The Michael Parks (featuring Andy Swan, Sandro Perri, Greg Smith of the Weakerthans, and Shayne Cox, most recently of Sports: The Band) and stayed for some of Andrew Vincent. Both acts were laidback, loose, and delightful. Andrew Vincent was especially entertaining, as he decided to sing/rap over pre-recorded backing tracks for the first few songs. That might sound strange, but his smart lyrics, awkward gestures and hushed voice made for fascinating show.

I ended the night back at The Garrison, where my house-guests for the weekend, PS I Love You, were playing at 2 am. Not too many people were still there at that late hour, but you could tell that everyone who stuck around and saw them was pretty excited.


The first stop of the night for me was the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom for the NOW Magazine showcase. I was there to see Halifax’s Tasseomancy (formerly Ghost Bees, they announced the name change mid-way through their set), the project of twin sisters Romy and Sari Lightman. I last saw them when they played a show at my apartment in March, and their new songs have really stuck with me. Right off the start I knew I was in for a treat, when I realized that Timber Timbre‘s Taylor Kirk and Simon Trottier would be accompanying the twins, switching between drums, guitar, keyboard, and lapsteel. Also sharing the stage were a group of women covered in body paint and carrying staffs and sculptures and essentially just adding a theatrical element to an already dark and creepy set of music. One of them even did an interpretive dance to one of the songs, freaking me out further. Best thing I saw at NXNE this year, for sure!

Obviously I wanted to stick around to see Timber Timbre, but I also really wanted to go check out Katie Stelmanis at Wrongbar. I decided to try to see a bit of both sets, ducking out during Timber Timbre’s third song to make my way west along Queen St. I don’t think I missed much – I’ve seen them play so often and I always enjoy it, but I’m really itching for some new material!

It was my first time visiting Wrongbar, and the layout was not at all how I pictured it in my mind, but I still thought it was a pretty cool room. I was able to catch the last half of Katie and her band’s set, which included one very danceable number that I’d never heard her play before. They’re one of my favourite acts in Toronto right now and I hope more people catch on to what they’re doing because it’s really quite good.

Diamond Rings played next, dressed like a peacock. People lost their shit, of course.

At midnight, I hurried over to the Dakota to catch Evening Hymns. The place was jam packed, and unfortunately it seemed like a lot of the people weren’t there to listen to music. It was a damn shame people didn’t shut up for their set because from what I could hear it was beautiful. I got fed up with the chatter and left early to try to get into Lee’s Palace for PS I Love You.

When I arrived, Japandroids had just finished and there was a steady stream of people exiting the building. All I could think to myself is, “These folks don’t know what they’re missing!” I think a lot of Japandroids fans would dig PS I Love You – they’re both guitar and drum duos who write really catchy energetic anthems – but if I’m not out there checking out new bands, I can’t expect others to as well. I found my spot up front and had my brain melted by them for the second night in a row.


I was pretty exhausted after the first two nights, so for Saturday I chose to just one show: The D’Urbervilles at The Drake. They weren’t going on until midnight though, so I decided to go see if my boys in Attack in Black were hanging out at the Horsehoe. I’d be missing their set for The D’Urbervilles, but it was good to hang out for a while anyway. I did manage to catch some of Bruce Peninsula‘s set, and to my ears they’ve never sounded better. I wish I could have stuck around for their whole show.

So yes, the festival ended at The Drake, with my old friends The D’Urbervilles. Seeing them play is a NXNE tradition that I’m happy to keep up.

To wrap things up, I agree with everyone else who has said this was the best NXNE ever. Though I wasn’t around in the mid-90s when it began, it was certainly the most fun I’ve had out of the past three that I’d attended. With all the new venues that have opened up in the last year, and with the nice weather we had over the weekend, walking around the city at times reminded me of being in Austin for South-By-South-West. About a million less people, but the feeling was still there.

If you’ve read this far, congratulations, here’s a video of PS I Love You playing their song “Meet Me at the Muster Station” at Lee’s Palace from the Friday of NXNE.

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Daniel, Fred & Julie, and Baby Eagle at The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto

Last Thursday I went and saw Daniel, Fred & Julie play at the Horseshoe, the perfect venue to hear them play their gentle folk songs. Last fall when I first caught wind of this project, I immediately knew I’d love the record. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the music these three people make, so to have them team up for a record had me pulling out my wallet faster than you can say “Sackville.” Truthfully, it made sense for them to join forces: Julie played in Fred’s old band “Shotgun & Jaybird,” and when that band broke up, ex-member Shotgun Jimmie recruited Daniel’s band Attack in Black to be his backing band. Attack in Black’s album Years featured guest vocals from Julie Doiron, who in turn covered two of Fred’s songs on her last album.

Are you with me still? If so, please enjoy their song “Runner” from their self-titled debut record, out now on You’ve Changed Records.

Opening the show was Baby Eagle. What’s there to say about little ol’ Baby Eagle, other than it’s the project of the Constantines’ Steve Lambke, and that he’s great? I guess the first peep I ever heard from him was the last track on the third Cons album (Tournament of Hearts), a ditty called “Windy Road.” It had Steve singing, but instead of the usual scrappy punk song we got a pleasant acoustic number. It was an album highlight for me, so I was happy when he started playing solo shows later that year. Two quick albums in 2006 and 2007 followed by a split with Attack in Black late last year brings us to today. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from him soon – his setlist was all new songs, and it looks like he’s going electric.

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Attack in Black, with Dog Day at Il Motore

I shot some video of Attack in Black during my recent trip to Montreal. I will never get tired of seeing this band (in fact I’ll be seeing them again next month when they open for the Cons at Lee’s Palace). This song above is on their latest album, called Years (by one thousand fingertips), but check out my YouTube channel for a few more songs from their set.

Dog Day just put out a limited edition 12″ EP called Elder Schoolhouse. I was hoping they’d have it with them when I saw them last week in Montréal but alas, the timing didn’t quite work out and the band didn’t have them in time for the show. The album was recorded by Rick White, who pretty much has a flawless track record when it comes to these sorts of things (Julie Doiron, $100, going back to Plaskett’s first album). I’m sure I’ll have a copy in my hands soon enough, but in the meantime all I have is this video of them playing one of the more sinister tracks off last spring’s Concentration. Sorry for the muddy audio.

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SappyFest 2009, Sackville, NB
31/07 – 02/08/2009

One of the first bands I saw this year at SappyFest was The Harbourcoats, the still-sorta-new-because-they’re-relatively-unknown band led by Bry Webb from the Constantines. It was a really nice way to kick off the festival and definitely had me humming the songs to myself all weekend. This wasn’t my first time seeing Bry playing away from his regular gig – I remember hearing at least one of these songs when he did a set at the Three Gut Records 5th anniversary party years and years ago at the Tranzac, and I’ve subsequently seen him play on a few other occasions leading up to last Friday. Joining him this time ’round was Mike Feuerstack (aka Snailhouse) and my old pal Jonas Bonnetta (aka Evening Hymns). The songs were subtle and majestic, showcasing Bry’s powerful voice in a whole new way. I’m super excited to hear their forthcoming record, too bad no one knows when it’s coming out. Maybe I should look into getting that Constantines acoustic EP they put out a few months back to hold me over. Which reminds me: if anyone from Arts & Crafts is reading this, can you please press it to 10″ vinyl and send me a copy? What’s with this digital-only foolishness?

Anyway, while watching the video, please try to ignore the crowd chatter and shaky camera work and just appreciate the song. Doesn’t it make you want to hold somebody?

I didn’t end up shooting much video while out east. In fact, I brought about eight tapes but only shot 60 minutes worth of footage. It’s kind of hard to party when you’re carrying around a bunch of gear, and my main intention at SappyFest was to have a good time (and I ended up having the time of my life) so it ain’t such a big deal that I only got a couple videos. Here’s $100, who I’ve seen more than any other band this year, playing with their newest recruit, my old homie from Oshawa, Jeff Peers. They’re running through a great tune written by Rick White, who is also sitting in with them for this number. I’m pretty stoked ’cause Ian is playing the electric guitar. It’s all my dreams coming true. Enjoy.

After his set at this year’s SappyFest, I said, “Jon-Rae, wanna go play a song for me in the marsh?” and he said, “Sure Colin.” Once we got there, he told me that the marsh was haunted by an old woman with a lantern. He decided upon “Ghostsong” from his album Knows What You Need, which seemed appropriate. What you can’t see in the video is there were a couple skater kids watching from down the boardwalk. Once we were done filming, we started walking back to town, and as we passed them they told Jon-Rae how beautiful his song was. Yeah, it is pretty beautiful.

On the last day of the festival in the middle of the afternoon we all packed into the Vogue Theater to watch Snowblink. It was about 300 degrees in there – people were literally sticking to the seats. Anyway, the band invited a bunch of their friends to come sit on stage and clap and ring bells, and once they all started playing it really didn’t matter how hot it was in there. Grab their newest album Long Live… because it’s gorgeous!!

Attack in Black closed out the festival for me with this amazing new song. Highlight of my summer.

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