Monday, September 12, 2011

Five fall faves from Austra to Vagabond Opera

My fall picks for visiting acts to Vancouver appeared in WE a few weeks ago. 

Credit: supplied

It’s been over a decade since I experienced a regular school year, yet September is still more about the anxiety of fresh starts and not-forgotten failures than any drunken New Year’s Eve. If you’re like me, the sweet sounds of fall concerts should help banish those back-to-school blues (real or phantom). Skip sweating over the sold-out shows from Bon Iver, an imploding Kings of Leon, Opeth and Jay-Z/Kanye and, instead, take a chance on these five visiting acts that will help soothe even the most savaged of spirits.


On one level, George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, is another dude crafting songs alone in his bedroom. But the Brooklyn-based beat-machine isn’t making music for the maudlin introvert — he’s all about the solo dance parties. As is his opening act, the brilliantly fun Diamond Rings, Toronto’s one-man-electronic band. Sept. 28 at Biltmore (390 Kingsway), 8pm. $17.50 from Red Cat Records, Scratch, Highlife and


If Neon Indian and Com Truise’s electro and synth-heavy songs are any indication, the early ’80s never actually ended — the first part of the decade just took a prolonged sojourn in outerspace wherein it bashed away at the boundaries of bleeps and blips with New Wave hammers, biding its time until the perfect storm hit: advanced sound engineering and the threat of grunge’s return. This night all but guarantees a chill-out dance party and at least one or two scrunchie sightings. Oct. 4 at Venue (881 Granville), 8pm. $20 from Red Cat Records, Scratch, Beatstreet, and Highlife.


Sucker for a spectacle? The Vagabond Opera also has the talent to back it up. Featuring classically trained opera vocalists and musicians, this cabaret-inspired group takes its inspirations from pan-European bohemia: Parisian jazz to Ukranian folk-punk with heavy doses of klezmer, accordion and violin. It’s probably unlike anything you’ve ever seen this side of the Atlantic. Oct. 12 at the WISE Hall (1281 Adanac), 8pm. $15-$18 at the door or


As two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss helped put a lot of the “grrr” in the riot grrrl movement. Now they’re bringing back that much-missed vibe with their new punk rock super-group, Wild Flag, with Helium’s Mary Timony and the Minders’ Rebecca Cole. Thick, scuzzy guitars and pounding drums set against deceptively sweet vocals? Yes please. Nov. 12 at Biltmore (391 Kingsway), 8pm. $16 Red Cat Records, Scratch, Highlife and


A band’s best friends are sometimes all one needs as proof of awesomeness: indie electro-pop outfit Austra is tight with fellow Torontians Diamond Rings and Fucked Up. Need more proof? The trio’s stunning debut Feel It Break is a jarringly beautiful collision of influences and sounds — digital chamber pop that’s cinematic in scope. The album’s garnered gushing praise from major media outlets around the world and landed the band a coveted spot on the Polaris Prize shortlist. They’re a band destined for big venues. An intimate show like this will be one to remember. Nov. 16 at Electric Owl (918 Main), 8pm. $14 from Red Cat Records, Scratch, Highlife and
Next week’s MUSIC column will focus on five local acts rocking out this fall.

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