Gig/Concert: Volcano Playground w/ Bitter City, Charge of the Light Brigade
Venue: Crown and Tiger, College Street, Toronto, ON, Canada
Date: 25 February 2010
Headliners: Volcano Playground
In one word: Molten
There was a veritable snowpocalypse tonight in Toronto but that did not stop a crowd of gig goers from braving the elements to turn out at a dingy basement for some musical warmth provided by three local indie bands.
First on the bill were the unfortunately named Charge of the Light Brigade, which is one of the worst band names I’ve seen in a short while. I only caught the last three songs of this, their first ever show, so there’s little to be said here but the penultimate song “Young Love” had a decent riff to it. Then it was all over in a snap.
From the snap came the crackle of Bitter City, a band who delivered a rather nervy display but that stage anxiety seemed to quell by the end after favourable responses from the crowd. Their garage rock sound is lo-fi as you like and pretty abrasive but it rubbed me the right way most of the time, bar a few moments where the guitar was just a little too harsh to be enjoyable. There were some cool rhythms laid down by this quartet of three girls and a guy, and I particularly enjoyed a song at the tail-end that featured a keyboard intro and melody with a tone that reminded me of a fairground organ.
And so to the pop, or rather, the eruption…
This was my first time downstairs at the Crown and Tiger, which is pretty much like any other basement or back room style make-shift venue that you’ve ever come across: four walls, some cheap lighting and a lack of ventilation. It was the exact type of setting I’d been eagerly waiting to find Volcano Playground at since first encountering them back in September last year at an open-air event, and tonight in this dimly-lit little hole in the ground they shone like I knew they would.
Armed to the teeth with the various electro gizmos that the band employ to compliment their traditional rock instruments, Volcano Playground played a set which simmered throughout and at the best moments went molten. “Waiting” was a hot moment, and with disco lights dancing this fantastic electro whine came alive as eyes darted in the shadows and chased the light. This number is easily a leading song for the band, and one which should be happily devoured by anyone with a fancy for Interpol, She Wants Revenge or the like. “Last Ocean” was another hot moment, accented well with some nice heavy drum fills, while I’m glad I left this show with a copy of Volcano Playground’s 5-track EP because “Outer Spaces” is a particularly joyous intergalactic adventure that will fit very nicely alongside the likes of Pantha du Prince in my quest to create the ultimate ‘Chilled-out n Spaced-out’ playlist.
As Volcano Playground played through their set they also played their live band version of musical chairs, as the band members would frequently switch instruments and positions. Sure, this showed a dynamic edge and demonstrated their abilities as actual musicians, but I’d suggest that perhaps the band need to settle in their places a bit more to make these kind of changeovers more seamless – that’ll come with time. They’re a young band, rich with creativity and still finding their feet in many ways. Volcano Playground are currently at work on their debut full length album and it’s a release which I look forward to with much anticipation. Their music strokes the darkest parts of my subconscious mind, while also triggering morbidly giddy doodling in my notepad.
© Brian Banks, Music Vice
Volcano Playground setlist:
First Noise (SP?)
We Are Clashing
Fill It Up