Upcoming In Toronto

The Toronto concert season is getting sexy. The following shows are ones I’ll either go to, or kick myself for missing.

September 5

Sir Richard Bishop at Geary Lane. A guitar-driven journey into territories no map can find.

September 6

Tim and Eric w/ Dr. Steve Brule at Danforth Music Hall. Absolutely ridiculous.

September 12

The Growlers at Lee’s Palace. Dose regularly on these surf-people.

September 15

The War on Drugs at Phoenix Concert Hall. I’m new to these guys but I like everything I’ve heard. According to their site, this show is SOLD OUT.

September 21

Ty Segall at Danforth Music Hall. On tour with his new album Manipulator.

Steven Wright – Oakville Center for the Performing Arts. Always thought this guy was fairly genius.

October 3

Beach House at Lee’s Palace. I’ve never seen them, but I have been to Twin Peaks. This show is apparently SOLD OUT.

October 11

Secret Chiefs 3 at Lee’s Palace. SC3 are simply unhinging.

October 28

Slowdive w/ Low at Danforth Music Hall. It’s Slowdive.

And since the Moon Duo show was cancelled, you can watch this:


Your Life Is A Lie

It’s great when labels put up good money so bands can make ridiculous videos. Let me direct your attention to “Your Life Is A Lie” by MGMT. Their latest, self-titled album is bizarre, alien-themed, and fan-tastic. The video fits the song – short and sweet like this week’s blog post.

If you liked that, you might like “Cool Song No. 2”. This video is much stranger, pretty violent, ultra-slick, a little disturbing. It looks like it cost a fortune. I’m looking forward to the live show.


Goblin wsg Secret Chiefs 3

Friday I went to The Opera House to see Italian soundtrack legends Goblin with their special guests Secret Chiefs 3. SC3 opened the night and blew everybody away with their matchless blend of Middle Eastern music, prog-rock, surf, and Spaghetti Western score steeped long and hard in a narcotic brew of esoteric philosophy and magick.

TreySecret Chiefs 3 do not put on your typical concert. The material can be challenging for listeners. Bizarre time signatures, Middle Eastern scales, and enough dynamic range to scare you means that you’re in for a real experience as an active listener. Musicians out there couldn’t ask for a more prodigious group.

SC3Watch this video from their visit in May when they played Ananada Shankars “Renunciation”.

I have seen these guys three times in the last year and a half. Each time has been more impressive than the last. When they left the stage I wondered how anyone could follow them. I particularly wondered how Goblin would sound. Sometimes a band comes back after a 40-year hiatus and their sound isn’t fresh, feels put-on, and they play new material that is vastly inferior.

goblin-2013But Goblin’s appeal was never about tight performances and musicianship, necessarily. As the soundtrack music for some of the most stylish horror films ever made, it was always about the style, about the emotional climate they created and their distinct mood. When they came on stage they brought the goods.


They rocked. Their songs have such distinct character that they could have hardly messed it up. I don’t believe they were ever a touring band, so maybe their act hasn’t been on the shelf so long it’s stale. The attitude in the room was perfect, the performances were impressive and their set list was great.

The show made me pretty eager to dip back into some Argento horror films. Suspiria makes for a good Halloween tradition.

The Invisible Brat

Sorry! I saw the Toronto Maple Leafs give up a three goal lead to lose in overtime last night, and I’ve been informed that it was probably my fault. I jinxed them, apparently. Whatever your theories might be on Reimer’s rebound control, lack thereof, or Toronto’s unique talent for giving away leads at the last minute, put it all to bed; it was me.

Sports are full of superstitions. So are the arts. Some athletes wear the same item during every game, regardless of whether it brought them a win or loss in the previous game. Actors will curse you if you say “Macbeth” backstage at a play, even if the play they’re performing is Macbeth. It’s a strange world out there, full of strange beliefs.

Interestingly, today I read an article in Scientific American about the power of rituals. The article points out that according to a few recent studies, rituals work. And they work regardless of whether you believe they will. Now, when I say “work”, I don’t mean they make the impossible possible, but they have an effect on the people who do them.

And why shouldn’t they? So many unconscious processes affect us all the time that we really can have only a vague idea why we succeed at some things we attempt and not others. Many of our unconscious processes contradict our conscious intentions, so we often manufacture failure for ourselves without realizing it. If we can perform some ritual to prime our unconscious, to let that invisible brat know it’s game time, we might find our performance enhanced.

I know from experience that the best plays and the most outstanding goals usually don’t spring out of a conscious plan. They happen when the player’s conscious mind gets lost in the chaos of the game and the instinctual unconscious takes action. This is why “beginner’s luck” exists. A new golfer might hit a hole in one while a veteran may wait his or her entire life and still never get one. Beginners don’t out-think their unconscious intent because they haven’t had all the lessons, haven’t heard all the ways their swing is incorrect.

On the other hand, there is a popular theory that we can become an expert at just about anything by accumulating 10 000 hours of practice. This makes sense too because the repetitive conscious practice drills the desired behaviors into our unconscious through muscle memory and long-term potentiation in the brain. When you’ve racked up that much time doing anything, you don’t need to think about it a whole lot to have success. Just let the invisible brat do it.

But make sure you don’t piss the invisible brat off. There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “If you want to see God laugh, tell Him your plans.” The brat loves to mess with conscious intent, and it has the mentality of a four year old. So don’t talk about your goalie’s shutout or your pitcher’s no-hitter until the game is over. I keep my important plans silent so God doesn’t know what to think.