Walking towards Horseshoe Tavern in the late afternoon with headphones clad and high spirit, I was leaping at the premise of hearing Peter Silberman’s distort vocals lull me into trance and shouting back the lyrics to ‘Head Rolls Off’ by Frightened Rabbit. Meandering past the dimly lit bar and a few security officers, I found a snug position next to the stage between a set of speakers. The following three hours consisted of worn vocal cords, stolen set lists, and intermittent declarations of undying love to the various performers and audience members alike.
Glowing underneath crimson stage lights, a serene Joshua Bertram approached the stage alongside drummer Kerry Latham as the evening’s first act. The pair modestly introduced themselves as Our Brother the Native and began their set to what can only be described as an hour of shattering ambient bliss. With melodic layers abound and warped vocal loops, the duo from Ann Arbor, Michigan flooded the patchwork dance floor with sound. Hidden between two boxes overflowing with wires and electronics, Joshua thanked the now burgeoning audience and finishing the set, left the stage, leaving a comforting ring and gratifying resonance in the crowd’s ears.
Josh Bertram adjusts levels to ambient splendour.
Kerry Latham sends cymbals crashing.
Our Brother the Native released their third full length titled Sacred Psalms on FatCat Records this past May. Intricate textures and heavy samples imbue their performance as a mesmerizing tribal ritual balanced with shimmering noise flowing seamlessly as if Gang Gang Dance was hosting a sacrificial ceremony with Pocahaunted. The band is finishing their tour making stops in Montréal and Providence, you can find out more about ‘Our Brother the Native’ on their website.
The Antlers then took the stage and announced to an astounding reception that it was their first time in Canada and that “this place is awesome”. Horseshoe Tavern suddenly blossomed as the venue overfilled within the first notes of ‘Bear’. Peter Silberman carefully whispered the verses to ‘Atrophy’ as if each listener was part of a graceful secret lasting only that instant. Dim scarlet lightning swept over the audience as the Antlers justified the entire evening with the words…
Little porcelain figurines, glass bullets you shoot at the wall.
Threats of castration for crimes you imagine when I miss your call.
With the bite of the teeth of that ring on my finger,
I’m bound to your bedside, your eulogy singer.
I’d happily take all those bullets inside you and put them inside of myself.
Peter Silberman cries out Atrophy.
Darby Cicci plays the keyboard.
Something died that moment awash in a communal sway with the crowd – and it was beautiful in a way felt through watching the audience with eyes shut forget that there was ever anything outside the doors of this bar in Toronto. The band fulfilled all the romantic promises of their album Hospice using what few loving words they needed, leaving shivers that would linger long through the falsetto climax of ‘Epilogue’. The Antlers will be celebrating the release of Hospice on French Kiss Records this August in New York, you can learn more about them on their website.
“Well, fuck me Toronto, this is great,” exclaimed Scott Hutchison in an animated Scottish accent as Frightened Rabbit adjusted their equipment and took a swig of their drinks. Opening with ‘Modern Leper’ the title track from their latest album The Midnight Organ Fight and following up with ‘Fast Blood’ prompting iPhones and digital cameras to be ripped from pockets and pointed to the stage faster than the band could blare out the chorus. Scott’s brother and drummer Grant Hutchison lead the crowd into shouting out the lyrics to ‘I Feel Better’ as a satisfying reverb poured through the speakers. Concluding ‘Square 9’ drenched in sweat the band concurrently dropped their instruments to the floor and walked off stage to a mixture of sexual innuendo hollered by elated listeners and a deafening chant of ‘Music Now’.
Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit plays Modern Leper.
Grant Hutchison smashes the drums.
A timidly convinced Scott Hutchison returned to the stage and picking up an acoustic guitar ambled uninhibitedly into the audience playing ‘Poke’ as flashes lit up and drinks rose to the ceiling. The folk-tinged trio ended the night with ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ as the audience sang back each verse at twice the volume. Amidst profuse gratitude, a net of tangled wires, and discarded guitars decorating the floor, Frightened Rabbit disappeared off stage. The band is continuing their tour across the United States and Europe throughout September. Find out more about them on their website.
Scott Hutchison approaches the crowd during ‘Poke’.
A big thank you to the staff at The Horseshoe Tavern who were most accommodating while organizing the show, and of course Our Brother the Native, The Antlers, and Frightened Rabbit for putting on a fantastic concert. To friends both new and old, ear-shattering guitar riffs, and uninhibited dance moves throughout the evening, I thank you for making it a wonderful night out. For more photographs from the show you can check my Flickr.
The Modern Leper
Good Arms vs. Bad Arms
I Feel Better
Old Old Fashioned
Head Rolls Off
My Backwards Walk
Floating in the Forth
Keep Yourself Warm