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#83 Oliver Wickham


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Monday
Dec052016

Plants and Animals at Mill's Hardware, Hamilton, ON (04/12/16)

 

 

This past Sunday night, in the town of Hamilton, Ontario - Montreal band Plants And Animals took a quick break from their work as support for Half Moon Run to make some magic at the one and only Mill's Hardware.

Mill's Hardware is an incredible event space / concert venue with awesome sound and acoustics and enough space for everyone to enjoy the show comfortably.

We had the pleasure of learning about Plants And Animals many years go, opening for Secret City Records label mate Patrick Watson at the Mod Club in Toronto. We were hooked from the jump - but they have genuinely gone from an awesome band that we dug right away to an absolute force. In ten or so years they have released four full length records and have toured relentlessly.

All of this was clear as day the moment they set foot on stage on Sunday and treated the appreciative crowd to an intimate show comprised of most of the new record Waltzed In From The Rumbling, as well as a glorious selection of classics and favorites and a beautiful Leonard Cohen cover during the encore.

Plants And Animals create raw electricity on stage. It's cliche as hell, but it's true. You will zone out entirely. You will rack your brain to find other bands as captivating. You will love every second of it.

Make sure that you check out and really absorb the new Plants And Animals record. It is absolutely so great. Every song. Make sure you see the band on tour as well. You will be so happy you did.

http://millshardware.ca/

http://plantsandanimals.ca

Friday
Oct072016

Ta-Ku at The Opera House

Ta-Ku and Wafia may have just released their collaborative EP '(m)edian' but there's a lot more music from them that we were dying to witness.  And we weren't the only ones.  The Toronto stop on their tour sold out rather quickly, and if that wasn't enough indication the anticipation leading up to the show was quite evident in the audience.  It's a unique experience to find such a tightly packed crowd for artists synonymous with delicate, beautiful slow jams. 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct032016

Natasha Leggero at #JFL42

What can you expect from Natasha Leggero?  At her headline show at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for JFL42 she delivered the irreverent, outrageous show we'd hoped for.  Along with her she brought the incredible Nate Bargatze, and unexpectedly though unsurprisingly Moshe Kasher.  Bargatze delivered a unique version of the material he'd performed in his own headliner sets earlier in the week.  It was a testament to his skill to adapt and still win over the audience.

Kasher is so quick chances are you'll miss a bit of what he does, no matter how closely you watch.  He's a prime example of what we love most about stand up comedy, he's bringing real issues in our world to the conversation but in a way that is disarming and thought provoking.  The outspoken comedian treads into some territory that bordered on offensive for some of the Toronto audience, but the fact is he's addressing bigotry certainly not participating in it.  He brings a pronounced physical energy to his set, making it emphatic in a way that is a perfect compliment to Bargatze's laidback style. 

We'd been looking forward to this show for some time, but really weren't sure what to expect.  As tough as it must be with such a large audience, she lets us into her personal life and shares what a new experience getting married has been.  An interesting highlight came when she discussed meeting a long time female friend of Kasher's and the competitiveness that ensued.  The free form discussion of a real life situation that is largely relatable (we're not all travelling comedians) helped the audience connect to Leggero.

Then there were those moments where they turned ice cold.  A couple of times as Leggero delivered outrageous lines, cutting in their wit and landing close to home, she drew gasps from the audience rather than laughter.  This came as a surprise for us, after following her career we expected even more.  To close out the show, Kasher returned to the stage and he and Leggero invited a couple onstage.  The newlyweds offered up some advice for the couple from the audience, a very endearing moment serving as the finale for an unpredictable, exciting show.

Sunday
Oct022016

Nate Bargatze at #JFL42

Nate Bargatze takes the stage and has an instantly disarming presence, no matter the venue.  Within moments his stories seem like they're coming from an old friend.  It's not exactly obvious but part way through the show we realize this is a big part of Bargatze's mastery of the craft.  With such casual ease he performs material that makes it feel like he isn't performing at all. 

The Royal Theatre hosted his headlining performance, and along with him came opener Sarah Tiana.  Her energetic show was a perfect compliment to Bargatze.  She had the audience losing their minds within minutes and set up a brilliant long form set.  Later in the week Nate performed at the Queen Elizabeth theatre opening for Natasha Leggero.  It was incredible to witness his ability to tailor the material to a different audience and setting. 

He lets us into his world, and has no fear in admitting how much he loves Wal-Mart.  Bargatze puts a brilliant shine on everyday life, and keeps you thinking outside your own experience.  He's never loud or outrageous, he'll ease you into a new idea and surprise you everytime.  The Nashville upbringing and laidback attitude seemed to make him a favourite with Toronto audiences.  Impeccable timing and a politely subversive perspective make him a legend, because he makes it looks so easy.

Thursday
Sep292016

Kumail Nanjiani at #JFL42

Upon greeting the audience Kumail Nanjiani pointed out that this was in fact the second performance of his career in Toronto.  He noted that this was the first show announced, so these are his fans that were really on the ball and yet they lose out on the experience of the first show.  Whether fans of 'Beta Male', 'The Meltdown', 'Silicon Valley', or more likely all of the above, no one in the audience had more impact than Amir.  Nanjiani spotted the young man in the 'Make America Rage Again' hat who cheered when Kumail mentioned he grew up in Pakistan...

...and so began the only stand up show we've seen of it's kind.  We learned a great deal about Nanjiani's life through his discussion with Amir and his mother.  At one point he joked that everyone else should leave so he could talk with them.  At what point Nanjiani shifted from this honest and open discussion to his prepared material was imperceptible.  There we see his true gift for timing, and his compassionate, insightful way of seeing the world. 

A few times the material grew a little raunchy, and the knowledge that a 14 year old was present created tangible awkwardness.  Ever self aware, we witnessed the odd moment of the performer turning his back on the audience in order to be able to tell certain parts of the story of a family visit to 'Fun Land'.  It's a tale that will yield equal parts cringe and laughter should you have the chance to hear it.

In an unpredictable, free flowing, and seemingly partly improvised show there were a few standout moments.  Hearing his parents response to his stand up special 'Beta Male' was relatable and hilarious, especially considering the success of that project.  None was more memorable than his 'encore', where he offered up the last few minutes to questions from the audience.  This element showed his incredibly quick wit, and the unique variety of people that comprise his audience.

The ultimate moment was when he was joined briefly by his wife Emily Gordon, producer of 'The Meltdown'.  The show (co-hosted by Nanjiani and Jonah Ray) has just started its final season, and the two responded together to a question about how they feel about it ending, and what's next.  The openness and honesty in that tiny moment are present throughout his whole show.  Kumail Nanjiani's story, and his ability to make it relatable are what make his work powerful.  Though we may laugh our asses off, we leave thinking about real issues like race, sexism, and whether or not that show is ok for a 14 year old.