The Gig: Bombay Bicycle Club, The Coppertone, The Jezabels, Dinosaur Bones (part of Canadian Music Fest 2011)
Where: Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Ontario
When: Saturday 12 March 2011
In One Word: Driven
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. There have been plenty of gigs and festivals where bands – particularly opening acts – seemed like forgettable filler, and had you checking the time for when the band you really came for would be on. And then there are those great nights where the first act just blows you away, setting the bar high for what’s to follow, and what follows hardly disappoints. This is exactly what happened at Friday night’s CMF Buzz-Factor showcase at Lee’s Palace.
The evening began with The Coppertone, aka Amanda Zelina from Toronto. The minute her pipes hit the mic, she commanded attention. Simultaneously sweet, sultry, gritty and soulful, the voice is the first thing you notice. It doesn’t take long before the mad guitar chops also stand out. Zelina plays with a skill once described by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons as “mighty fine”. Now blues rock is not exactly high on the list of genres that I listen to, but The Coppertone’s songs were strong and left me wanting more.
But more came from an entirely different direction. Next in the lineup was Australia’s The Jezabels, a four-piece band who have developed quite a following among Aussie-files in Toronto. Like Amanda Zelina, singer Hayley Mary’s voice is a standout, but hers is notable for its range and ethereal qualities. Moving about the stage with expressive, flowing arms, she hits very high notes effortlessly. Clearly influenced by Kate Bush and the Scissor Sisters, The Jezabels fill a void that their predecessors left open for far too long. “Mace Spray” the single from the EP Dark Storm was one of several highlights from their set, which by the way, was also too short.
The Jezebels were followed by CMF spotlight band, Dinosaur Bones. Playing basic straight-up rock, they performed with great intensity. Celebrating the release of their debut album My Divider, the band rocked it out with tonnes of vigour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone batter a tambourine as hard as keyboardist Dave Wickland. Each member has a very strong, unique presence and as a band they are clearly driven and don’t seem to approach anything half-assed.
At midnight the band everyone was waiting for, Bombay Bicycle Club, hit the stage. The BBC is a classic example of a band whose studio work, though very good, has yet to match the energy of their live show. Singer Jack Steadman’s awkward, frenetic, epileptic-like head thrashing is as unique and distinctive as his sound. The set consisted mostly of songs from their 2009 release, I Had the Blues But I Shook them Loose. Highlights included the beautiful “Dust on the Ground”, the bass driven “Always Like This”, the teasingly fast-slow “Lamplight” and “Magnet”. By the time the band reached their last song “What If”, the til then polite, personal space respecting crowd, had broken loose in a surge of mad love. Not bad for Bombay Bicycle Club’s North American live debut.
© Renee Saviour, Music Vice
Pictures of The Coppetone, Dinosaur Bones, The Jezabels and Bombay Bicycle Club