Hunter Valentine, The Box Tiger and Kieran Strange at the Great Hall – Show review and photos

March 30, 2013

Hunter Valentine - photo Rebecca Jaine, Music Vice Magazine

Who: Hunter Valentine, The Box Tiger, Kieran Strange
When: 27 November 2010
Where: The Great Hall, Toronto
In One Word™: Stunning

I kick off Canadian Music Week with Proud FM’s Wednesday night showcase at The Great Hall. The audience is mostly populated by women, which is an absolute rock & roll rarity. As well as featuring a kick ass line up of ladies who know how to rock out (each band at least features a female lead), a few of Music Vice’s favourite local bands are on the bill. Brian interviewed the girls of Hunter Valentine around the release of Lessons From The Late Night in 2010, and The Box Tiger were the first band to perform on Radio Wunderbar, and he’s been saying nice things about them since winter 2010.

Flamingo haired Kieran Strange is warming up the stage when we arrive. Live, the Vancouver based British transplant’s rock roots are more at the fore front than on her recorded work. But make no mistake, the artist who describes herself as a “cotton candy car crash” is a pop songstress at heart. With light hearted lyrics about crushes on sexy gamer girls, and pop punk anthems about embracing your strange side, Kieran is measures less obnoxious and put on than other punk princesses like Avril. And unlike Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”, her songs about girl lust come off more believable than Perry’s mildly offensive ditty.  She closes with a kicking cover of “Since You’ve Been Gone”, and a significantly more punk number written only 2 days ago titled “Flight Or Fight” (which suits my sensibilities quite nicely). Overall, Kieran’s first performance at CMW finds her endearing her way into many new hearts. (It’s hard not to like a girl who confesses to being addicted to Dungeons & Dragons midset).

What can I say about The Box Tiger? They haven’t even put out a full length record yet (look for their LP later this year), and yet they’re one of the bands that has been able to hold my attention over the past two years. This young, suburban band has an effortless indie rock sensibility about them that always surprises me. Seamlessly, The Box Tiger mixes youthful energy and edge, with a sound and stage presence that seems beyond their years. It cuts like a knife. It’s easy to liken their sound to some of the namesakes in Canadian indie rock who have managed to break the mainstream.  It’s great to see them opening up for larger bands all the time. They’re super easy to believe in, and it will be really interesting to see how far they go.

Finally, the main event. The audience response has been really warm for the first two bands, but it’s clear who everyone is here to see. Hunter Valentine’s fans may not quite fill the venue, but they are a diehard bunch.  It was my first time seeing Hunter Valentine, and they really exceeded expectations. The girls seem really exultant to be in their old home base after touring their latest release, and have picked up a new member Aimee Bassada since their relocation to Brooklyn. (She plays a shell pink Fender, which is totally envy inducing).

This is the third concert in a row I’ve attended where a band member has spit beer onto the audience. As far as Canadian lesbian rock goes- Hunter Valentine are less whiney than Tegan & Sara, more stylistically interesting than The Cliks, and sexier than the Pack A.D. (and almost as rocking). Kiyomi pulls drinks out of hands to quench her thirst, and rocks out until the sweat rolls down her face.

© Natascha Malta, Music Vice

Photos by Rebecca Jaine:

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