Mozart’s Sister at The Rivoli, NXNE 2013 – Gig Review

June 13, 2013

Mozart's Sister at the Drake

Who: Mozart’s Sister
Where: The Rivoli
When: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
In One Word: Ecstatic

Pop music is finally cool. I am grateful for this. It’s a change in cultural attitude that’s been coming for some time now, but after about a decade of the bogus hierarchical divisions between genre and “mainstream” and “indie” slowly but surely fading away into a utopian mess of hyperlinked art-collisions that results in major-label R&B records given every bit the same critical attention and consideration as the latest Sacred Bones release, it feels like we’re finally at that point where we can all let go of our dicks and quit indulging in the delusion that pop music is somehow inherently lesser than your favourite limited-pressing No Wave seven-inch. It’s an ugly, lazy system of evaluation that should rightfully be put to rest with the last fucking baby-boomer.

It’s in this brave, beautiful new world that an act like Mozart’s Sister can pack a room with a sincerely engaged and supportive audience the way it did last night. The dance-pop project of Montreal musician (and former Shapes and Sizes vocalist) Caila Thompson-Hannant is an outlet for exactly the kind of genre melting-pot music I’m talking about: Cyndi Lauper synths, booming beats, and big belted choruses – all in service of weirdo-love songs with lyrics like “I’m just tripping balls for you”. Live, her entire set-up consists of a couple of samplers and one additional performer contributing vocals, but at odds with the extremely bare bones staging is Thompson-Hannant’s affinity for great pop-diva stage gestures and earnestly dorky dance moves. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how much of a delight it is to watch musicians actually have fun onstage, but Mozart’s Sister perform with the unbridled enthusiasm of two eight-year-old girls having a Spice Girls singalong at a slumber party. They love the music they’re playing and they love to play it for people – it’s infectious.

Sometimes this would get in the way of the pesky logistics of actually carrying out the music – a couple of times syncing mistakes were made with the samplers, and this did serve to kill a bit of the performance’s momentum at around the halfway point. But the duo managed to regain their bearings pretty quickly, and even when they were screwing up they were fun to watch anyway, so no harm no foul. By the time of the set-closing “Mozart’s Sister” – a highlight off the recent and pretty excellent Hello EP – Thompson-Hannant’s command of the stage was undeniable, and the room loved her. It’s the kind of show where, if you didn’t have fun, it was because you were trying too hard to hate it.

Obviously grateful for the large, attentive crowd, before exiting the stage she said, “Thank you for being such good lovers to us tonight,” which was awfully flattering. It felt like she was doing all the work.

© J. Francis, Music Vice

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Mozart’s Sister

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J. Francis

J. Francis is a freelance music critic that sprouted like an unsightly growth from the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area and eventually ended up in Kingston, Ontario. He is a man of deliriously firm, contradictory convictions, with a life-long dream of dismantling high-art/low-art hierarchies. He loves pop music with a passion that many find unsettling and is often mistaken as being somehow ironic or insincere (nothing could be further from the truth). His favourite album is Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell. He knows that you think that's ridiculous. Regardless, he hopes you have a good day.

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