Sometimes after being caught up in the hustling-bustling rah-rah-rah non-stop, let-go-of-my-goddam-throat, stress of living in the The Big Smoke, I can turn up to a concert a tad weary on my feet. How perfect then, that I find myself an empty stool at the Wrongbar as, after what seems like an eternity setting up, a band called Absolutely Free play just the kind of music I want to hear in this moment. I want to zone out, I want to be occupied with noise and lyrics, and this Toronto band are happy to oblige as they become my audio tour guides to lead my mind into a sweet blackhole of musical abyss.
Absolutely Free were one big bag of dreary delay. A bleary, wallowing wildebeest of noise lost down a dark tunnel and searching for the light. I loosely observe the musicians trading places and instruments between songs. Cool. There’s a song, or at least a lyric, proclaiming “there is no sun”, and whether it’s just a passing homage to the great late Jay Reatard or a subtle bit of acute awareness about it being nighttime, I’m not sure. But I like it.
As the set moves on, I find myself stepping deeper into the void. “The next song is called “Taliban” — brilliant. And yes, it actually was good. I lose myself in a monotonous riff, some kind-of eerie keys and the ever-present, heavily delay-effected vocals of Matt King. Echo… echo… echo.
At this moment, some bittersweet serendipity as an email on my mobile phone from Coachella music festival politely informs me I have been rejected for a press pass. And “all decisions are final”. At this point, the singer of Absolutely Free reminds me “you can’t have it all”. Deep. Screw Coachella. Radiohead are coming to Downsview Park anyway, so all is well. The set wraps up and by now I’m exactly in the place I want to be: This gig on a Thursday night in Toronto turns out to be the best live alternative to Interpol’s first album that I could have hoped for.
Sometime around midnight, Bishop Morocco take to the stage. The Toronto group, launching their six-song EP Old Boys tonight, do their best to “Melt My Mind” but in my case there’s no need. I’m already gone. Mind melted like grilled cheese, and just nodding to the music. Into it. Hoping for some hot sauce to go with the brain cheese, not quite getting it.
Bishop Morocco are more static on stage than Absolutely Free, which is not just a play on their names. While physically rigid, metaphysically they are on par with Absolutely Free in terms of the dreary, droning vibe of their music. It’s a different beast, but still lost down a tunnel looking for the light, all the same. Gotta love a good new wave show. Set your eyes to the floor and enjoy.
© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice
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