Dan Deacon, Merchandise and DIANA at The Horseshoe, NXNE 2013 – Gig review and photos

June 19, 2013

Dan Deacon at the Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, NXNE 2013 - photo Renee Saviour, Music Vice

Who: Moon King, DIANA, Merchandise & Dan Deacon
Where: The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
When: Thursday 13 June, 2013
One Word: Mental

A few years ago I wrote a review that looked at the importance of chemistry in a band. While it’s true that band members should ideally have a connection with each other, Thursday night’s NXNE line-up at The Horseshoe reminded me that the right chemistry also includes the right balance of elements.

The first case in point is Moon King. When lead singer, David Benjamin (aka Daniel Woodhead) sang on his own, his voice sounded flat and was only tolerable in small doses. His on-stage theatrical flailing did little to make up for it. Bassist/singer Maddy Wilde fared much better on solo vocals. But it was when the pair harmonized, that the result was at times, hauntingly beautiful. Pure magic occurred when the quiet harmonies were juxtaposed with fuzzy, crashes of sound between verses. Sadly the moment was singular.

Next up was DIANA, a band that has been getting a fair bit of buzz over the past few months. After a slight delay caused by a missing mini-cable, they plunged into a solid set. Singer Carmen Elle crooned sweetly and soulfully against a backdrop of a myriad of influences including 80s synths and drums. Keyboardist Joseph Shabason occasionally broke out the sax, adding a funky dimension to their sound. You know you have a solid live act when you find yourself watching all members of the band and not just the charming front person. I definitely look forward to seeing more of this band in the future!

Following DIANA was Merchadise, a straight-up rock band from Tampa, Florida. Carson Cox has a smooth, sexy voice but from my auditory vantage point it, it was overpowered by the bass, which was a shame. It was hard to make out the lyrics to any of the songs, but that didn’t seem to matter to the dancing audience who was shouting for more at the end of the set.

Shifting gears completely was Dan Deacon whose fun, wacky aesthetic was suitably balanced by his interactive approach with the audience. He set up his speakers and laptop on the stage and performed on the floor in front of a table that held the rest of his kit of electro-gadgetry. With every instruction – to get in a large circle, participate in wacky dance-off, create a human tunnel etc. – the audience excitedly obeyed. It was the Romper Room on ecstasy, with an amalgamation of Looney Tunes characters deejaying the rave. Energy, joy, and happy sweaty humanity were just bouncing off the walls creating such an impact that at the very end, the table holding up Deacon’s gear collapsed. It was saved by the collective grasp of the punters hovering around it.

© Renee Saviour, Music Vice

Photos by Renee Saviour, Music Vice:

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Dan Deacon

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Renee Saviour

activist, teacher, book lover, music zealot

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