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Music, Year in Review 2013

Year in Review: The Best Concerts of 2013

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Sarah Rix
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Band: Franz Ferdinand
Venue: Kool Haus, Toronto
Date: October 24, 2013

When it comes to Franz Ferdinand, I am absolutely biased. They’re my favourite band (yes, my favourite band in the history of bands) – and, granted, I get a lot of flack for it. There’s a good reason why I love them so much though. All you need to do is see them live and you’ll understand. I walked in with the highest of expectations in my tenth time seeing them live, and thankfully Franz Ferdinand exceeded all of them. The Scottish quartet was animated, engaged, and they played to their crowd. They were fantastic in their return to Toronto’s Kool Haus – as were show openers Casual Sex and Frankie Rose – and songs from 2013 album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, fit in comfortably with the older singles like “Take Me Out” and “Michael”. If there was ever a threat of me forgetting my love for them (please note: there wasn’t), this was the show to remind me that the Scottish four-piece know what they’re doing, and most importantly, they do it well. I just wish they’d do it more often in Toronto.

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Band: Arkells
Venue: Fort York, Toronto
Date: July 5, 2013

Max Kerman of Arkells. (Photo: Neil Van/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Max Kerman of Arkells. (Photo: Neil Van/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

I feel like in the past, I’ve taken Hamilton’s Arkells for granted. This is silly of me because, as their show at the inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Festival proved, they really are quite good. The first part of their set belonged to them: the band playing songs from their two albums, Jackson Square and Michigan Left.

All things considered, they sounded great. But then they got to the second part of the show and things really got interesting. We’re talking a set of Motown covers. It was as much fun as you could hope for and it was enough to catapult the Arkells to best show of the festival (heck, almost to best show of the year), coming out on top of other TURF highlights such as Belle & Sebastian, Frank Turner, The Cat Empire, Camera Obscura, and The Hold Steady. All of the aforementioned were good, but nowhere near as memorable as Arkells. And really, who needs photos of She & Him anyway?

More photos here.

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Band: Jagwar Ma
Venue: The Hoxton, Toronto
Date: November 28, 2013

I made a last minute decision to go see Jagwar Ma at The Hoxton. Performing tracks from their debut LP, Howlin’, the show seemed to have slipped past a lot of people’s radars. I’m glad I went – the Australian band’s debut appearance in Canada was a big one. Despite a less-than-sold-out turnout, the show proved the three-piece is poised on the brink of something big: especially when you consider just how well their Australian contemporaries Tame Impala are doing.

While their on stage dancing needs a bit of work (it’s adorable and certainly appreciated, but it’s also awkward) – they managed to get the crowd moving, they sounded huge, and it’s easy to imagine people liking this music in both club and massive festival settings. So when they’re playing bigger venues, don’t mind me saying: “I saw them when…”

Read the review here.

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Band: Django Django
Venue: The Opera House, Toronto
Date: March 12, 2013

Vincent Neff of Django Django. (Photo: Bruce Emberley/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Vincent Neff of Django Django. (Photo: Bruce Emberley/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Okay, so from a photographer’s point of view: shooting this show was absolutely awful. I mean terrible, blinking strobes and not much else. BUT, musically, it was pretty near perfection. Django Django was upbeat, catchy, originally, and wonderfully quirky. They also interacted well with their crowd and obviously have that whole “stage presence” thing down pat. It was a show that I walked into with very low expectations but came away highly interested in their self-titled debut and their overall aesthetic. As a band, that’s the goal – so they definitely succeeded in that regard. I’m excited to see where they go next and, as an added bonus, they also managed to pull off matching shirts… and in my books that’s something to be congratulated.

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Band: Cut Copy
Venue: The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
Date: November 15, 2013

Cut Copy. (Photo: Steve Danyleyko/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

Cut Copy. (Photo: Steve Danyleyko/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)

The sold-out show at The Danforth saw something of an anomaly for a Toronto crowd: there was legitimate, actual dancing. People were really into the Australian four-piece – and for good reason, too. Cut Copy, now four albums into their career, has amassed an impressive back catalogue that they weren’t shy about sharing.

Their set made great use of new crowd favourites (see: the songs from 2013’s Free Your Mind) and the old standbys. The singles from 2011’s Zonoscope have aged amazingly well and sound much bigger than I’d originally remembered. Plus you will never, ever go wrong with 2008’s In Ghost Colours. In short: please don’t make us wait for another album before you come back, Cut Copy.

More photos & read the review here.

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  1. Pingback: The Best Music of the Year Lists from Music Blogs and Press | That Eric Alper - December 18, 2013

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