By: Tom Beedham (@Tom_Beedham) –
The fourth and final night of Wavelength 14 took place at The Garrison in Toronto and featured Halifax-based indie-rock duo Cousins, who will release their new album, The Halls Of Wickwire, on May 13th via Hand Drawn Dracula (CAN) and BaDaBing (USA), Toronto-based math-punk power-quartet Greys, Edmonton-based rock’n’roll marching dance band The Wet Secrets, who released their third album, Candy, on February 4th, Toronto-based Colombian-Canadian electro-freak-pop singer Lido Pimienta, and Guelph, ON-based instrumental hip-hop beatmaker Elaquent.
Cousins @ The Garrison
Sometimes it just takes two.
Halifax drummer Leigh Dotey and guitarist Aaron Mangle’s epic drums and guitar duo Cousins closed out the festival to a crowd that took cues from preceding act Greys and moshed to the band’s fuzzy indie rock all throughout the performance.
After a 40-minute set that closed with a new song about the Harper budget, fans weren’t ready to call the festival quits. They cheered relentlessly for more, and after some short time, the band returned to the stage as Mangle asked, “Can we?”
The reply Mangle got was a simple thumbs up from the sound technician, and the band used the opportunity to play two last songs from their 2012 album, The Palm At The End Of The Mind, in “Thunder,” and “Die,” which topped off the festival on a high note.
Greys @ The Garrison
Toronto-based quartet Greys’ dynamic performance of beat-peppered post-hardcore saw them bouncing around the platform like heated atoms, their conduct infectious enough to stir up the festival’s first mosh pit this year.
When they weren’t doing that, true to the cultural spirit they address in “Drag,” they managed to spend more time asking people why they were skipping a night of new TV shows like Girls and True Detective than they did fleshing out further details of a forthcoming album they teased (they just finished writing it, with a June release date), even dedicating a song to Lena Dunham.
The Wet Secrets @ The Garrison
Having just released Free Candy—their third album and follow-up to 2007’s Rock Fantasy—on Feb. 4, Edmonton indie rock outfit The Wet Secrets didn’t need their marching band shtick to keep a packed audience on its toes. Though it didn’t hurt.
The band reaped from the buzz of their new record, but The Wet Secrets are so much more than what’s on wax. Their heavy, furry costumes in tact, they were exuberant live, with their music being accompanied by fully choreographed dance moves. Fans ate up the new material, as they danced and sang the chorus lines back to the band, and in some cases, even let out bursts of joy when backing vocalists/horn players Emma Frazier and Paul Arnusch pointed them out individually as they sang the title lyrics to “Get Your Shit Together.” If they were a marching band, they’d be a force to reckon with.
Lido Pimienta @ The Garrison
Lido Pimienta might have played The Garrison back in November for All Toronto’s Parties, but her performances are never duplicated. While that show saw Pimienta poised and performing in more of a headliner capacity, resulting in an invitation to the crowd to start an onstage dance party and Pimienta herself taking a stage dive, the earlier Wavelength gig was more about theatrics than vibe dissemination.
Bringing friends and frequent visual collaborators Tough Guy Mountain onstage to decorate the environment with an upside-down Canadian flag, streamers, and the satirical visual brand experiment’s members themselves to provide some lackadaisical Canadian flag waving, at the top of her set Pimienta strolled onto the stage in a trapper hat and red sweater that showed trademarked Canada logo, and then—posed as if to sing lyrics off of her cellphone—Pimienta delivered her own spin on the national anthem, “O KKK Canada.”
Frequently outspoken at concerts, Pimienta will often break to give rants about social and cultural issues, including Stephen Harper’s control over the Canadian government. For the most part, this performance was void of such digressions, no doubt to let the opening skit speak for itself.
It’s not the first time the musician has juxtaposed the country’s name with that of the infamous hate group. Pimientahas made passing remarks about it at previous concerts, and recently tweeted it in a message turning followers on to a CTV news broadcast about a woman, her children, and others who were removed from a Harper’s visit to Blood Tribe (an Alberta First Nation 200 kilometers south of Calgary) for “tweeting” remarks that were critical of the prime minister’s agenda: to discuss the First Nations Education Act, a controversial new legislation that detractors complain resulted from insufficient consultation with First Nations themselves.
“KKKANADA,” the tweet began, going on to link to the YouTube video in question. “SHAME ON @PrimeMinisterH EVIL REGIME KKKANADA – Our home ON Native Land!”
The rest of the show was more about the music, although Pimienta did break to opine on “dick pics” at one point. But regardless of your position on the separation of concert and state, the politicking Pimienta does at her Toronto shows is essential to her project. Although frequently gigging in front of white, English-speaking crowds, the Barranquilla, Colombia-born Pimienta sings entirely in Spanish. The English spoken political asides provide context and (to a degree) protect her music from exoticization. And so it goes to follow that at the very least, paying attention to the banter andrespecting it at the same time that you enjoy her music is to get the full listener’s experience. It will not only make you want to move in revolutionary ways, but also make you a better person.
Elaquent @ The Garrison
For the most part, Wavelength reserved the initial slots at the top of each of the festival’s proper concert lineups for acts that were stylistically divergent from the other performers with which they would share their stages, giving festivalgoers that turned out early a reward that was both refreshing and unexpected. With Guelph, ON producer Sona Elango’s instrumental hip-hop beat project Elaquent, there was no exception.
As audiences filtered into The Garrison’s cavernous concert hall, they stumbled upon a pastiche of diverse sound references to everything from noisy mechanical processes, glitches, 8-bit video games, compressing hydraulics, and lasers, to percolating synths and twinkling atmospheres (think DJBucktown meeting Four Tet backstage in a particularly plush green room). And while the set wasn’t a visually engaging performance—for the most part Elango stood stoically with his head down so as tomanage the technical processing of his sampled material—those that did show up to realize the fullest worth of their concert passes wandered over to the front of the stage to pay the music the respect and curiosity it deserved.